Tom Copeland research materials on Elmer Smith and the Centralia Tragedy, 1905-1998  PDF

Overview of the Collection

Collector, compiler
Copeland, Tom, 1950-
Title
Tom Copeland research materials on Elmer Smith and the Centralia Tragedy
Dates
1905-1998 (inclusive)
Quantity
1.95 cubic feet (3 boxes) plus 1 oversize vertical file
Collection Number
2021 (Accession No. 2021-001)
Summary
Tom Copeland’s research materials on Elmer Smith, attorney for the Industrial Workers of the World involved in the Centralia Tragedy of 1919.
Repository
University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections
Special Collections
University of Washington Libraries
Box 352900
Seattle, WA
98195-2900
Telephone: 206-543-1929
Fax: 206-543-1931
speccoll@uw.edu
Access Restrictions

No restrictions on access for paper-based materials; however, no user access copies are currently available for audiocassettes or 7" reel. Users may obtain a reproduction of the media for a fee by contacting Special Collections. Access to CD-ROMs can be arranged by making an appointment with the Labor Archives curator prior to viewing. Contact UW Special Collections for more details or to request an appointment.

Languages
English
Sponsor
Full processing supported by the Labor Archives Fund and the Labor Archives of Washington State Budget


Biographical NoteReturn to Top

Tom Copeland is the author of The Centralia Tragedy of 1919: Elmer Smith and the Wobblies and has worked in the family childcare field since 1981.

Historical BackgroundReturn to Top

Elmer Smith, who is documented in this collection, was a progressive lawyer in Centralia, Washington who defended the Industrial Workers of the World members arrested following the Centralia Tragedy of 1919. Smith was a high school teacher before becoming an attorney. As an attorney he represented IWW members, loggers and miners. After hearing rumors of a planned attack on their IWW meeting hall, several Wobblies consulted with Smith about whether they had a right to defend themselves and their hall. Their previous hall had been attacked the year before during a parade. Smith contacted Washington’s governor and the IWW’s asked for protection from Centralia law enforcement. However, both attempts were denied as were IWW member efforts to plead for justice from town residents. Smith then advised the Wobblies it would be legal to physically defend themselves if attacked first.

On November 11th, 1919, under the guise of an Armistice Day Parade, American Legionnaires attacked the Centralia IWW hall. IWW members shot and killed four Legionnaires during the attack and wounded several others. A posse later mistakenly killed one of their own. IWW member Wesley Everest fled the scene, killing one of the men pursuing him, and was put in jail. That night,he was pulled from his cell by a group of vigilantes and lynched on a bridge above the Chehalis River. Ten men, including Smith, were arrested and tried for murder during a trial that was heavy with fear and intimidation. Seven men were found guilty and one was judged insane. Smith was acquitted and spent the rest of his life advocating for their release. He was harassed, arrested and disbarred for his work. He was reinstated before he died.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

This collection contains Tom Copeland’s research materials on Elmer Smith, attorney for the Industrial Workers of the World involved in the Centralia Tragedy of 1919. These materials were used by Copeland in the writing of his book, The Centralia Tragedy of 1919: Elmer Smith and the Wobblies (1993). Also included are research materials from his 1986 article, "Wesley Everest, IWW Martyr" published in The Pacific Northwest Quarterly . As a part of his research, Copeland conducted a series of oral history interviews with Centralia residents in the 1970s, including members of Smith’s family, IWW members, classmates, and others who knew him.

Collection contents include Copeland’s research notes as well as reproductions and originals gathered by Copeland from family members and archival repositories of news and magazine clippings, pamphlets, correspondence, and other primary sources, including papers and photographs from Elmer and the Smith family. The collection also contains several scholarly papers and manuscripts, including a draft with notes from Virginia Waddell, Smith’s daughter, of her in-progress biography of her father. Other research materials include correspondence between Copeland and people who knew Smith as well as a large series of oral history interview materials, including correspondence between Copeland and interviewees, paper and digital copies of transcriptions of some of the interviews, and analog and digital audio recordings of many of the interviews.

See the Arrangement Note for a full list of series and subseries. More detailed description of each series is also included in the collection inventory, integrating Tom Copeland’s notes on the collection when available.

Other Descriptive InformationReturn to Top

Forms part of the Labor Archives of Washington.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Preferred Citation

Labor Archives of Washington, University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections, Tom Copeland research materials on Elmer Smith and the Centralia Tragedy, 2021-001, box number, folder number

Restrictions on Use

Creator's copyrights transferred to the University of Washington Libraries.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top


Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

 

SERIES 1:  SUBJECT FILES AND RESEARCH NOTES, 1905-1998Return to Top

Container(s): Box-folder 1/1, 1/4, 1/12-13, 1/17-18, 1/20, 1/22-28, 1/30-31, 1/35-36, 1/39-40, 1/42, 1/44, 1/45-46, 1/48-50, 2/1-7, 2/11-13, OSVF0203

Contains assorted research materials gathered by Tom Copeland, some reproductions from archival repositories as well as originals. Pamphlets located in Series 1 include:

  • A Survey of the Workings of the Criminal Syndicalism Law in California
  • Let Us Suppose
  • Legion Officer and Over Seas Captain Demands Release of Centralia Victims
  • Schreckens-Herrschaft in Amerika
  • Three New Witnesses of Centralia Tragedy
  • Suppressed Evidence in The Centralia Case
  • Judicial Murder
  • Lumber vs. Labor
  • Elmer Smith Pleads of Liberty of Centralia Men
  • Equality Before the Law
  • Washington's Legal Mockery
  • Centralia Case
  • Washington's Judicial Mockery
  • The Centralia Case by an American Legionnaire
  • You Ought to Know
  • Speeches by Elmer Smith
  • Capt. Edward P. Coll on The Centralia Case

Container(s) Description Dates
Box/Folder
1/20
Subseries A: Edward Coll: Letters, Pamphlets, and Newspaper
Includes original notebook of Coll's 1928 handwritten open letter to the American Legion and pamphlets regarding this letter.
1928-1929
1/13, 1/23, 1/30, 1/35, 1/50, 2/2, 2/4-6, 2/11-12, OSVF0203
Subseries B: Elmer Smith
1905-1990
Box/Folder
1/13
Newspaper Photocopies and Notes on Elmer Smith
Includes copies of Centralia Tribune, Chehalis Bee Nugget, the Montesano Vidette, Morning Olympian, New York Call, and New York Times.
1919-1923
1/23
Notes on Washington Archives Lewis County Criminal Court Files (1915-1939)
approximately 1970-1990
1/30
Elmer Smith History at St. Paul College of Law
approximately 1972
1/35, 1/50
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Files on Elmer Smith
1919-1923
2/2
Virginia Waddell's Unpublished Manuscript Draft on Her Father, Elmer Smith
Includes Waddell's notes.
1973-1974
2/4
Elmer Smith's Correspondence with John Nicholas Beffel of the American Civil Liberties Union
1924-1932
2/5
Elmer Smith's Correspondence with Upton Sinclair of Indiana University
1926-1931
2/6
People of the State of California v. J.H. Casdorf and Earl Firey: Elmer Smith's Legal Defense Address
1922 April 10
2/11
Biographical Sketch of Elmer Smith
approximately 1970
2/12
Elmer Smith Disbarment Notes and Documents
Contains Copeland's research notes on Elmer Smith's disbarment files held by the Washington State Supreme Court with photocopies of Plaintiff's exhibits of two of Smith's speeches used to disbar him and Defendant brief in support of Smith.
approximately 1925, 1970-1990
Box
OSVF0203
Elmer Smith and Football Team Photograph
approximately 1905-1915
1/17
Subseries C: Wesley Everest and Family
Contains note on Copeland's Pacific Northwest Quarterly research article, "Wesley Everest: IWW Martyr"; letters from brother and others; Evergreen State College magazine "ReView" on Centralia Mural Project featuring Everest; flyer for dedication of the Wesley Everest mural on December 13, 1997; and speech given by Eugene Barnett's daughter, Esther Barnett Goffinet, at mural dedication.
1977-1998
1/44
Subseries D: Radio Broadcast by Eugene Barnett
Transcript of radio broadcast in the 1940s on his life and the Centralia case
approximately 1940
1/4, 1/18, 1/26, 1/36, 1/45-46, 2/3, 2/7
Subseries E: Centralia Tragedy and Trial
1916-1994
Box/Folder
1/4
National Archives Military Intelligence Division: Photocopy of Memo to Fay W. Brabson
1921 August 31
1/18
Centralia Publicity Committee
1926-1929
1/26
Evidence for the Centralia Case
1917-1929
1/36
"What We Fight For" Theatrical Play about Centralia Case by Park Goist
1994
1/45
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Documents
1922-1930
1/46
Centralia Trial at Montesano
1919-1920
2/3
Documentation of the Montesano Trial
1916-1975
2/7
Petition to the Acting Secretary of the Centralia Publicity Committee
1932 May 4
1/22, 1/25, 1/40
Subseries F: Scholarly Papers and Manuscripts
1960-1991
Box/Folder
1/22
Senior Research Paper, "The Centralia Massacre" by Lewis & Clark College Student, Christine Edmands
approximately 1960
1/25
"George F. Vanderveer: A Summary of His Noted Cases and His Use of Labor Ideology and Civil Liberties in the Centralia Massacre Trial" by Robert Omberg
1982 June 1
1/40
"The Centralia Armistice Day Riot" Nomination to National Register of Historic Places by Robert R. Weyeneth, Ph.D.
Contains document to nominate various sites in Centralia to the National Register of Historic Places.
1991
1/12, 1/24, 1/27-28, 1/31, 1/39, 1/42, 1/49, 2/13
Subseries G: Newspaper and Magazine Articles
Contains photocopies and Copeland's notes, including typed and handwritten transcriptions of some articles.
1915-1974
Box/Folder
1/12
Photocopies and Descriptions of Industrial Worker Magazine
1920-1932
1/24
Assorted Newspaper and Journal Articles on Centralia Case and Industrial Workers of the World (IWW)
1919-1925
1/27
Notes and Newspaper Articles from the Centralia Chronicle
1915-1974
1/28
Notes on Industrial Solidarity
1922-1925
1/31
Industrialisti Magazine
Contains copies of Finnish newspaper with articles covering the Montesano trial.
1919-1920
1/39
Seattle Union Record
1919-1924
1/42
California Newspaper Coverage
Contains copies of the Humboldt Times-Standard and the San Francisco Call-Bulletin
1922
1/49
The Labor Defender Newspaper Coverage of Centralia Leaders
1927-1933
2/13
The Farmer-Labor Call Newspaper: Photocopies with Articles on Industrial Workers of the World Trial and Elmer Smith
1920 October
1/1, 1/48, 2/1
Subseries H: Smith Family Papers
1914-1945
Box/Folder
1/1
Elmer Smith and Family: Letters, Records, and Certificates
Includes notes from the Smith family bible indicating birth and death dates of family members, Elmer Smith's death certificate, a copy of a high school essay on ethics written by Smith, his business card, a portion of a poster when he was running for Prosecuting Attorney with his signature, and a Macalester College Debate Society program.
approximately 1914-1945
1/48
Black and White Photo Reproductions of Elmer Smith, his office, Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) Members on Trial, and other Unidentified Individuals
approximately 1915-1925
2/1
Photographs and Negatives of Elmer Smith, Family, and Acquaintances
approximately 1920

SERIES 2:  CORRESPONDENCE, 1942-1995Return to Top

Container(s): Box-folder 1/3, 1/5-6, 1/29, 1/37, 2/14

Contains letters to and from Copeland and members of Smith's family and others who knew him, providing information about Smith's life and feedback on Copeland's draft manuscript before and after publishing.

Container(s) Description Dates
Box/Folder
2/14
Assorted Letters to Tom Copeland about Smith and in Response to Book Publishing
1972-1994
1/29
Coll, Edward
Correspondence to and from Edward Coll, including conversations with Tom Copeland.
1942-1981
1/6
Edwards, Herb
1972-1977
1/37
O' Connor, Harvey
1962-1977
1/5
Smith, Stuart
Correspondence between Elmer Smith's son Stuart and Tom Copeland
1972-1995
1/3
Thompson, Fred
1983-1986

SERIES 3:  ORAL HISTORY INTERVIEW MATERIALS, 1972-1990Return to Top

Container(s): Box-folder 1/7-11, 1/14-16, 1/19, 1/32-34, 1/38, 1/41, 1/43, 1/47, 2/8-10, 3

Copeland conducted a number of interviews with people who knew Elmer Smith on cassette tapes and transcribed them. Later, Elmer Smith's grandson digitized many of the tapes and transcriptions onto two CDs. Most of Copeland's interviews were taped, but some were not and exist only as transcripts or notes.

Interviewees and relation to Smith:

  • Baxter, Sam, Client of Elmer Smith
  • Beal, W.H., Classmate of Smith at Macalester
  • Beard, Nora, Smith's secretary
  • Behrbaum, Orville, Lewis County historian
  • Bell, William, Classmate of Smith at Macalester
  • Bertagnolli, Frank, IWW member and friend of Elmer Smith
  • Boyle, Harry, Classmate of Smith at Macalester
  • Burnley, Charlie, Classmate of Smith at Macalester
  • Cloud, Lucy Ann, IWW member
  • Coll, Edward P. and Aimee Coll (Spouses), American Legionnaire
  • Doty, Margaret, Classmate of Smith at Macalester
  • Drews, John, Classmate of Smith at Macalester
  • Dysart, Lloyd, Centralia lawyer
  • Edwards, Herb, IWW member
  • Faulkner, Bert, IWW member
  • Finan, A., Centralia resident
  • Fisk, Wilbur, Classmate of Smith at Macalester
  • Fusco, Marie, Centralia resident
  • Grundfossen, Iver "Swede", IWW member and logger
  • Harmon, Connor, Brother in law of Smith
  • Harris, Mabel, Sister in law of Smith
  • Heathcote, Hiney, IWW member
  • Hodgman, Stanley, Classmate of Smith at Macalester
  • Hurd, Loren
  • Johnson, John, Classmate of Smith at Macalester
  • Killen, Mary, Sister in law of Smith and wife of Smith's Brother Jim
  • Lipert, Helen, Centralia resident
  • Murphy, Joe, IWW member
  • Ruuttila, Julia, Journalist
  • Skinner, Grace, Sister in law of Smith
  • Skoog, Lawrence
  • Smith Nelson, Edna, Sister in law of Smith and wife of Elmer Smith's Brother Bill
  • Smith, Stuart, Son of Smith
  • Taylor, Elizabeth
  • Tripp, Oakley
  • Waddell, Virginia, Daughter of Smith
  • Willits, Laura, Smith's Wife

Container(s) Description Dates
Box/Folder
1/7-11, 1/14-16, 1/19, 1/32-34, 1/38, 1/41, 1/43, 1/47, 2/8
Subseries A: Transcripts, Notes, and Correspondence
1972-1990
Box/Folder
2/8
Copeland Interview Tapes Index with Notes from Elmer Smith's Grandson
approximately 1972-1990
1/19
Baxter, Sam: Notes
1972-1979
1/19
Beal, W. H.: Notes
1972-1979
1/47
Beard, Nora: Transcript and Correspondence
approximately 1972
1/19
Behrbaum, Orville: Transcript
1972-1979
1/38
Bertagnolli, Frank: Notes from Interview
1977 June 10
1/15
Cloud, Lucy Anne: Transcript and Correspondence
Includes photograph of Lucy.
1972-1973
1/19
Dysart, Lloyd: Notes
1972-1979
1/34
Edwards, Herb: Transcript and Correspondence
1972 October 1
1/19
Faulkner, Bert: Notes of Phone Conversation
1972-1979
1/19
Finan, A.: Notes
1972-1979
1/19
Fusco, Maria: Notes
1972-1979
1/8
Harmon, Connor: Transcript and Correspondence
1972-1973
1/7
Harris, Mabel: Transcript and Correspondence
Includes photograph of Mabel and daughter Dorthy Jean West
1973-1977
1/43
Heathcote, Hiney: Transcript
1974 September 29
1/19
Hurd, Loren: Notes
1972-1979
1/16
Killen, Mary: Transcript and Correspondence
Includes photograph of Mary.
1972-1990
1/19
Lipert, Helen: Transcript
1972-1979
1/41
Macalester College Classmate
1972-1974
1/33
Murphy, Joe: Notes
1981 July 27
1/9
Ruuttila, Julia: Transcript and Correspondence
1972-1990
1/11
Skinner, Grace: Transcript and Correspondence
1972-1979
1/32
Smith Nelson, Edna: Transcript and Correspondence
1972-1990
1/10
Waddell, Virginia: Transcript and Correspondence
1972-1977
1/14
Willits, Laura: Transcript and Correspondence
1973-1990
2/10, Box 3
Subseries B: Interview Audio Cassette Recordings
1972-1980
Box
3
Beard, Nora: Interview at Her Home
2 tapes
1972 September 17
3
Cloud, Lucy Anne
2 tapes
1972 August 24
3
Coll, Edward and Amy
2 tapes
1974 November 6
Box/Folder
2/10
Edwards, Herb: Interview by Tracy Dalton
7" film reel
1972 February 12
Box
3
Edwards, Herb: Interview at his Home
2 tapes
1972 October 1
3
Grundfossen, Iver "Swede": Interview at the Home of Edna Smith Nelson
1 tape
1972 September 6
3
Harmon, Connor: Interview at his Home
1 tape
1972 September 9
3
Heathcote, Hiney: Interview at his Home
2 tapes
1974 September 29
3
IWW Member (Unidentified Interviewee)
1 tape
approximately 1972-1974
3
Killen, Mary: Interview at Her Home
2 tapes
1972 September 30
3
Ruuttila, Julia: Interview at the Home of Edna Smith Nelson
2 tapes
1972 September 7
3
Skinner, Grace: Interview at Extended Services for the Elderly
1 tape
1972 October 2
3
Skinner, Grace: Interview at the Seattle Public Library
1 tape
1973 April 21
3
Skoog, Lawrence
1 tape
approximately 1972-1974
3
Smith Nelson, Edna: Interview at Her Home
2 tapes
1972 September 9; 1980 October 13
3
Unidentified Interviewee
1 tape
1972 September 6
2/9
Subseries C: Digital Copies of Interview Transcripts and Recordings
Contains 2 cd-roms with digital copies of interview transcripts and mp3 files of interview audio recordings for many of the individuals mentioned above. It is possible that these cds contain materials and recordings that only exist in digital form from interviews with individuals not listed above.
approximately 1972-1990
Beard, Nora
Behrbaum, Orville
Bell, William
Boyle, Harry
Burnley, Charlie
Cloud, Lucy Ann
Coll, Edward and Coll, Aimee
Doty, Margaret
Drews, John
Edwards, Herb
Fisk, Wilbur
Grundfossen, Iver
Harmon, Connor
Heathcote, Hiney
Hodgman, Stanley
Johnson, John
Killen, Mary
Lipert, Helen
Ruuttila, Julia
Skinner, Grace
Smith Nelson, Edna
Smith, Stuart
Taylor, Elizabeth
Tripp, Oakley
Willits, Laura

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • Centralia Massacre, Centralia, Wash., 1919--History--Sources
  • Labor movement--Washington (State)--History--Sources
  • Labor unions--Washington (State)--History--Sources
  • Labor--Washington (State)--History--Sources
  • Lawyers--Washington (State)--Sources
  • Personal Papers/Corporate Records (University of Washington)
  • Riots--Washington (State)--Centralia--History--Sources
  • Trials (Murder)--Washington (State)--History--Sources
  • Trials (Riots)--Washington (State)--History--Sources
  • Personal Names :
  • Smith, Elmer, 1888-1932--Sources
  • Corporate Names :
  • Industrial Workers of the World--History--Sources
  • Other Creators :
    • Corporate Names :
    • Labor Archives of Washington (University of Washington) (curator)