From Haymarket to Little (Republic) Steel

This is the web site for the Waldheim Cemetery, with pics and a virtual tour including the Haymarket martyrs burial site and others associated with the radical movement: .  The link takes you directly to Haymarket, and you can scroll forward or backward from that spot.

The Illinois Labor History Society maintains a connection to a number of resource materials on Haymarket, which you can access here.  Examples of what can be found include an extensive archive on the Haymarket massacre, a section on Pullman and the Memorial Day massacre, and a full list of labor events of significance in May (from May Day to the Republic Steel massacre on Memorial Day).

Chicago also boasts the presence of Charles Kerr publishers. “In the wake of Haymarket and of the 1894 Pullman strike, the property question was to become an increasingly sharp concern for Kerr and for his wife, the feminist temperance advocate, May Walden. After first embracing the monetary reform ideas of the Populist movement, the couple accepted socialism at the century’s turn. A 1900 Kerr Company catalog suggests the expansive range of interests which the publishing house brought with it in joining forces with the organized left, promising books ‘on socialism, free thought, economics, history, hygiene, American fiction, etc.'” The

Haymarket Scrapbook 0882861476 $19 paperback

press continues this tradition today, including a number of books on Haymarket.  The Haymarket Scrapbook is the most authoritative single volume of source materials from people engaged in the trade union movement and the movement for the 8 hour day at the time.

If the May Day celebrates a workers’ holiday that hearkens back to the coming together of the first mass movement of the working class throughout the nation, then the Republic Steel massacre, on May 30 1937 marks the beginning of a period in  which the militant labor movement suffers a dramatic setback and decline.  Novelist Howard Fast wrote this account of Memorial Day 1937 from the perspective of a half-century’s hindsight.

Here Leon DePres is seen on video talking about the Republic steel massacre; “Site of the Memorial Day Massacre in 1937 when workers at Republic Steel joined 85,000 workers at other steel plants in a mass strike organized by the CIO’s Steel Workers Organizing Committee (SWOC). To stop the picketing, approximately 200 Chicago police officers set up a barrier across 117th Street. In a matter of minutes the police fired over 200 shots, four marchers were fatally shot, six other were mortally wounded, and thirty others suffered gunshot wounds. The gunshot wounds of the dead were all back or side wounds. The accompanying photograph shows the melee in progress with police officers and others wielding clubs against demonstrators.”

1894 massacre at “Little Steel”


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