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Industrial Workers of the World Seattle Joint Branches records, 1905-1950

Overview of the Collection

Creator
Industrial Workers of the World. SeattleJointBranches
Title
Industrial Workers of the World SeattleJointBranches records
Dates
1905-1950 (inclusive)
1916-1939 (bulk)
Quantity
4.39 cubic feet (9 boxes)
Collection Number
0544 (Accession No. 0544-001)
Summary
Records of the Branch
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

Open to all users.

Languages
English


Historical NoteReturn to Top

The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) was a radical labor organization in the United States that was most active between the turn of the century and the 1930s. The Wobblies, as they were known, believed there must be radical changes in American capitalism to improve the oppressive conditions that workers faced. Many IWW members believed in socialist or communist ideology and some advocated whatever means necessary to effect change, including sabotage and violence.

The Seattle chapter of the IWW was founded in 1905 and contributed to the city’s reputation as a hotbed of labor radicalism. The local office showed a keen interest in labor- and Wobbly-related activities across the nation, but most of its activities focused on organizing labor within the state. Beginning in 1907, the Seattle IWW undertook a campaign to organize Washington’s lumber workers. Wobblies believed that the poor treatment and low wages in the industry would make lumberjacks and mill workers receptive to leftist ideas. However, the employers in mill towns and lumber camps fought these attempts vigorously by screening out Wobbly workers and sympathizers, using detectives, and directing vigilante groups. For the most part, the timber companies’ efforts to drive out the Wobblies in the early 1910s were successful, but World War I and the accompanying economic boom in the lumber industry strengthened the hand of unions.

Everett had been one of the few mill towns where labor radicalism remained strong in spite of the business community’s concerted efforts to drive it out. Wobblies in Everett, joined by members of the Seattle IWW, continued to deliver radical rhetoric and face vigilante beatings and arrests. After brutal beatings of forty Wobblies whom deputies had taken out of jail and turned over to a group of vigilantes, Seattle Wobbly leaders rallied 250 supporters to sail to Everett on November 5, 1916. Upon their arrival the agitators confronted a force of almost 200 newly-deputized citizens. After a heated confrontation involving gunfire, five agitators and one deputy were killed, over thirty men were wounded, and an unknown number of Wobbly sympathizers fell overboard to their deaths before the boat cast loose and returned to Seattle.

Although most of the Seattle community and its mayor condemned the Everett Massacre, the agitators who returned to Seattle were arrested and faced murder indictments. However, none of the agitators were convicted and the Massacre became a rallying symbol for the IWW and brought the organization sympathy from many outsiders.

1919 was one of the most eventful and promising years for the local IWW because of the Seattle General Strike. Sixty-five thousand of the city’s workers, from hotel maids to garbage collectors, announced they would not work until the federal government and local shipyard owners granted wage increases to workers in the city’s shipyards, which had boomed during the war. This walkout virtually shut down Seattle from February 4th to the February 9th. Although the more conservative American Federation of Labor was mainly responsible for the strike, the Seattle IWW nonetheless participated and saw the strike as an omen of more worker solidarity and radicalism to come.

Instead of fulfilling radical dreams, the decade following the Seattle General strike proved disastrous for the IWW With the war ended, the federal government shut down its shipyards, taking away much of the strength of Seattle’s economy, which in turn made it more difficult to organize labor.

The conservatism and anti-communism of the 1920s proved even more harmful to the IWW, as the events in Centralia in 1919 would show. On November 11th the American Legionnaires planned to destroy the local IWW office at the end of the Armistice Day parade. Alert to the Legionnaires’ plans, the Wobblies armed themselves to protect their headquarters. After a bloody gunfight, the Legionnaires took over the IWW meeting hall and pursued the fleeing Wobblies, castrating and lynching one of them. Unlike the public sympathy that followed the Everett massacre, the Wobblies received little public support after the Legionnaires’ raid in Centralia. No Legionnaire served prison time for the murder or the destruction of the meeting hall.

The repression of the IWW in the 1920s came not only from vigilantes. In 1920 the Washington State Supreme Court upheld the state’s criminal-syndicalism law, which made it illegal to advocate crime, sabotage, and violence as a means of accomplishing political or industrial reform. Criminal syndicalism laws made it much easier to prosecute Wobblies and forced them to conduct many of their activities underground. IWW members in Washington and many other states faced prosecution for various offenses and often lost their cases, despite the fact that the American Civil Liberties Union often lent them legal support. During the Red Scare of the 1920s, federal and local authorities were able to raid the Seattle IWW office with impunity, destroying many of their records and files.

The Great Depression of the 1930s brought an end to the Red Scare and improved the fortunes of the IWW somewhat, but the organization was not as strong as it had been earlier in the century. A major campaign that the IWW undertook in Washington was the organization of agricultural workers in the Yakima Valley. However, local farmers managed to counter agitators’ efforts through vigilante efforts and with the cooperation of the local prosecuting attorney. However, Seattle attorney Mark Litchman managed to defend the agitators successfully through bargaining. World War II, and especially the anti-communism of the postwar era, made it particularly difficult for the IWW to function effectively. The Seattle IWW office closed in 1965.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

Reference files of the Seattle Office. Primarily court papers and publicity materials.

Also includes some of the following: speeches and writings, reports, incoming correspondence (1924-35), minutes, financial records of the Butte, Montana office, legal publications (mainly printed appeal briefs in criminal syndicalism cases, plus four volumes of briefs and testimony from California vs. Richard Ford (1917-31), periodicals (IWW and other), leaflets, scrapbooks, and other materials (mostly clippings) relating to the Centralia Tragedy, Everett Massacre, the Seattle General Strike, Landwehl, et al. vs. Equity Printing Company et al. (1924-25), the Colorado Mine Strike (1924-28), and the Sacco-Vanzetti defense campaign. The accession spans 1905 to 1950, bulk 1916-1939. Most of the files consist of reference materials that the office gathered, rather than the office’s working files.

The accession contains court papers, appeal briefs, letters, pamphlets, clippings, and leaflets. Legal publications comprise a large portion of the records. Many of the these relate to prosecutions under criminal syndication laws and a large portion of these are from within the state. Many of the materials in the accession relate to IWW activities outside of Seattle. Also, many of the papers relate to the court battles that IWW members found themselves in, in Washington and elsewhere. A large portion of these relate to prosecutions under criminal syndicalism laws. Items from the national IWW and other local chapters include minutes and reports from IWW conventions, financial records from other locals, information related to IWW campaigns in other parts of the country, and a large collection of publications from the national organization. There are also items related to the major IWW events in Washington, including the Everett Massacre, the Seattle General Strike, the Centralia events, and the Yakima Valley legal battles.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Alternative Forms Available

View selections from this collection in digital format.

Restrictions on Use

Creator's literary rights not transferred to the University of Washington Libraries.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top


Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

 

Speeches and Writings, Seattle Office, undatedReturn to Top

Container(s): Box-folder 1/1

7 items

Court papers, reportsReturn to Top

Container(s): Box-folder 1/2

5 items

General correspondenceReturn to Top

Container(s): Box-folder 1/3-1/6

25 items
Container(s) Description Dates
Box/Folder
1/3
General Correspondence
Undated
1/4
General Correspondence
1924-1929
1/5
General Correspondence
1930
1/6
General Correspondence
1932, 1935

CircularsReturn to Top

Container(s): Box-folder 1/7

3 items

Minutes, Washington State Branches, 1935Return to Top

Container(s): Box-folder 1/8

10 items

Library Book List, SeattleReturn to Top

Container(s): Box-folder 1/9

1 item

Financials records, 1925-1928Return to Top

Container(s): Box-folder 1/10

2 items

Audit: Butte, Montana, Metal & Coal Mine Workers Industrial Unions, 17 July 1925-31 February 1928

Convention Minutes and Reports, 1912-1950Return to Top

Container(s): Box-folder 1/11-1/14

Container(s) Description Dates
box-folder
1/11-1/14
Box/Folder
1/11
Report, 7th Annual Convention
1912
1/11
Minutes, 13th Annual Convention
1921
1/11
Minutes, 15th General Convention
1921
1/12
Extracts from the Verbatim Report, 16th General Convention
1924
1/12
Minutes, 16th Constitutional General Convention
1924
1/12
Minutes, Lumberworkers Industrial Union No. 120, Spokane
1924 September 20
1/13
Minutes, 17th Constitutional General Convention
1925
1/13
Minutes, 18th Convention of the Agricultural Workers Industrial Union No. 110, Spokane
1926 October 11-14
1/13
Minutes, 18th Constitutional General Convention
1928
1/13
Minutes, 20th Convention of the Agricultural Workers Industrial Union No. 110, Williston, South Dakota
October 10, 1928
1/13
21st Annual Convention of the Agricultural Workers Industrial Union No. 110, Seattle
1929 November 4
1/13
Proceedings, 19th General Convention
1931
1/13
Minutes, 20th Constitutional General Convention
1932
1/13
Report of Joseph Wagner, General Secretary-Treasurer, to 21st General Convention
1934
1/13
Minutes, Annual Convention, Lumber Workers Industrial Union No. 120, Seattle
1935 November 9-12
1/14
Minutes, 22nd Constitutional General Convention
1936
1/14
Minutes, 23rd Constitutional General Convention
1938
1/14
Minutes, 24th Constitutional General Convention
1939
1/14
Minutes, 25th Constitutional General Convention
1946
1/14
Minutes, 26th Constitutional General Convention
1950
1/14
Minutes, Central California Conference
1950 July 23
1/14
Minutes, 7th Convention, Metal and Machinery Workers Industrial Union No. 440, Union No. 440, August 18-19, 1950, Cleveland, Ohio
1950 August 18-19

Legal Publications, 1917-1950Return to Top

Container(s): Box-folder 2

33 items
Container(s) Description Dates
box-folder
2
California Appellate Decision, Vol. 49, No. 2171, April 24, 1926
1926 April 24
Box/Folder
2
California Appellate Decision, Vol. 65, No. 2705, June 6, 1931
1931 June 6
2
William H. Adams, Governor of the State of Colorado, et al., vs. The People of the United States of America, ex rel. Frank L. Palmer, et al., Brief for appellees in the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals from the U.S. District Court, 1928
1928
2
State of Washington vs. Ed Aspelin,appellant's opening brief to the Supreme Court of the State of Washington from the Superior Court of Jefferson County, 1920
1920
2
State of Washington vs. F. A. Brown, et al., respondent's brief on appeal to the Supreme Court of the State of Washington from the Superior Court of Benton County, 1920
1920
2
State of Washington vs. F. H. Brown and C. T. Neilson. Appellant's reply brief in the Supreme Court of Washington from conviction for criminal syndicalism in the Superior Court of Benton County
2
William Burns vs. U.S. Brief for plaintiff in error in the U.S. Supreme Court from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, 1925. Criminal syndicalism
1925
2
Judgement of the U.S. Supreme Court. Petition for rehearing afid for stay of mandate in U.S. Supreme Court, 1926
1926
2
State of Idaho vs. William Dingman. Brief of appellant to the Supreme Court of Idaho from a criminal syndicalism conviction by the 8th District Court of Idaho, 1919
1919
2
Harold B. Fiske vs. The State of Kansas. Opinion of the U.S. Supreme Court on a criminal syndicalism conviction. State of California vs. Richard Ford. Testimony, Vol. II, III and IV. Points and authorities
2
State of Washington vs. Chester Gibson, et al. Appellants' reply brief in the Supreme Court of Washington from conviction for criminal syndicalism by Superior Court of Yakima County
2
State of Washington ex rel J. B. Lindsley vs. John Grady et al. Appellant's opening brief in the Supreme Court of Washington from conviction for violation of injunction by the Superior Court of Spokane County, 1920
1920
2
William D. Haywood et al. vs. U.S. Petition for rehearing to the United States Circuit Court of Appeals (7th Circuit) from conviction under Espionage Act of 1917
1917
2
Mike Hennessey vs. State of Washington. Appellant's opening brief in the Supreme Court of Washington from the Criminal syndicalism conviction by the Superior Court of Clarke County, 1919
1919
2
State of Washington vs. Frank Hestings and Elias Matson. Appellants' opening brief in the Supreme Court of Washington from criminal syndicalism conviction by Superior Court of Thurston County, 1919
1919
2
Joint Anti-Fascist Refugee Committee, et al. vs. J. H. McGrath, U.S. Attorney General. Decision of U.S. Supreme Court, 1950
1950
2
State of Washington vs. O. Kowalchuk et al. Appellants' brief in the Supreme Court of Washington from sabotage conviction by Superior Court of Walla Walla County, 1919
1919
2
State of Oregon vs. Joseph Laundy. Brief of appellant in Oregon Supreme Court from criminal syndicalism conviction by 4th Circuit Court, 1919
1919
2
State of California vs. Charles B. LaRue. Appellant's opening brief in District Court of Appeal, 3rd District from criminal syndicalism conviction by Superior Court of Sacramento County, 1919 (?)
2
State of California vs. Charles B. LaRue. Appellants' reply brief
2
State of Washington vs. C. E. Payne. Appellant's brief in Washington Supreme Court from criminal syndicalism conviction in Superior Court of Pend Oreille, 1919
1919
2
State of Washington vs. John Fico. Appellant's opening brief in Washington Supreme Court from criminal syndicalism conviction in Superior Court of Clallam County, 1919
2
Bernard Parent vs. State of Washington.Brief of petitioner in re application for writ of habeas corpus to Washington Supreme Court (contempt of court for violation of injunction)
2
State of Washington vs. Archie C. Shoemaker. Brief of appellant in Washington Supreme Court from criminal syndicalism conviction by Superior Court of Franklin County, 1920
1920
2
State of Oregon vs. L. A. Sorllie. Brief of appellant in Oregon Supreme Court from criminal syndicalism conviction by 4th Circuit Court, 1919
1919
2
Charlotte A. Whitney vs. State of California. Decision of U.S. Supreme Court in criminal syndicalism conviction, 1927
1927

Centralia Tragedy, 1919Return to Top

Container(s): Box-folder 3/1-3/8

Container(s) Description Dates
Box/Folder
3/1
Leaflet issued by IWW before raid warning of trouble
3/2
Clippings
2 items
3/3
Brochures, leaflets
16 items
3/4
Miscellany
4 items
3/5
Pamphlets
6 items
3/6
Correspondence: John Lamb, Britt Smith 2 Court papers, mostly affidavits
2 items
3/7
Court papers, mostly affidavits
7 items
3/8
Appeal briefs (printed) in State Supreme Court
4 items

Everett MassacreReturn to Top

Container(s): Box-folder 3/9

17 items

Seattle General Strike LeafletsReturn to Top

Container(s): Box-folder 3/10

11 items

These are photocopies of the fragile originals stored in box 8

Landwehl, et al. vs. Equity Printing Company, et al.Return to Top

Container(s): Box-folder 3/11-3/13

Container(s) Description Dates
Box/Folder
3/11
Clipping
1 item
3/12-3/13
Correspondence and legal documents
116 items
1924-1925

YAKIMA PROSECUTION, 1933Return to Top

Container(s): Box-folder 4/1-4/2

Container(s) Description Dates
General correspondence and court papers
Court papers

Colorado Mine Strike, 1927-1928Return to Top

Container(s): Box-folder 4/3-4/8

Container(s) Description Dates
Box/Folder
4/3
Clippings
23 items
4/4
Photographs
Transferred to Industrial Workers of the World Photo Collection #922
36 items
4/5
Industrial Commission of Colorado correspondence, reports, minutes
7 items
4/6-4/7
Court papers
9 items
4/8
Reports, general correspondence
7 items

Sacco-Vanzetti CampaignReturn to Top

Container(s): Box-folder 4/9-4/12

Container(s) Description Dates
Box/Folder
4/9
Clippings
25 items
4/10
Miscellany, Ephemera
7 items
4/11
Minutes, Sacco-Vanzetti United Front Committee, Seattle.
1 item
1927 May 24
4/12
Pamphlets
6 items

Industrial Workers of the World Periodicals, 1908-1947Return to Top

Container(s): Box-folder 4/13-4/14, 5/1-5/8

Container(s) Description Dates
Box/Folder
4/13
Agricultural Workers Industrial Union No. 110 of the IWW Bulletin
Issues 1-49 inclusive. No. 21 mislabeled "22" No. 22 labeled "22A."
4/14
California District Defense Committee Bulletin
1921-1924
California District Defense Committee Bulletin Issues
Issue Dates (In Order of Binding):
  • December, 1921
  • March, 1922
  • April., 1922
  • Jan. 4, 1923
  • Feb. 10, 17, 24, 1923
  • March 10, 17, 24, 31, 1923
  • April 14, 22, 29, 1923
  • May 6, 12, 19, 31, 1923
  • June 2, 9, 16, 23, 30, 1923
  • July 7, 11, 14, 21, 28, 1923
  • Aug. 4, 11, 18, 1923
  • Sept. 1, 8, 15, 22, 29, 1923
  • Oct. 6, 13, 20, 28, 1923
  • Nov. 3, 10, 17, 24, 1923
  • Dec. 1, 8, 15, 22, 29, 1923
  • Jan. 5, 12, 19, 26, 1924
  • Feb. 2, 9, 18, 23, 1924
  • Mar. 1, 8, 15, 22, 29, 1924
  • Apr. 5, 12, 19, 26, 1924
  • May 3, 10, 17, 24, 31, 1924
  • June 7, 14, 16, 21, 28, 1924
  • July 5, 12, 19, 26, 1924
  • Aug. 2, 9, 16, 23, 30, 1924
  • Sept. 6, 13, 20, 27, 1924
  • Oct. 4, 11, 18 1924
1921-1924
California District Defense Committee Bulletin Financial Statements
Statement Dates:
  • March, April 1922
  • January, Feb.-Dec. 1923
  • January-September 1924
1922-1924
5/1
Defense Bulletin
  • V. 1, No. 1; Vol. 1, No. 2
5/2
General Office Bulletin
Issues:
  • May, 1924
  • August 19, 1924
  • January, 1925
  • February, 1925
1924-1925
5/3
General Organization BulletinJanuary 1, 1929, July 1, 1929, Sept. 1, 1939, January, 1947, February, 1947, March, 1947 (continuation of the above)
1929-1947
5/4
General Recruiting Union, New York, Bulletin
Undated
5/5
The Industrial Union Bulletin
1908, May 23
box:oversize
Oversize Box 8
Lumber Workers Bulletin
Issues:
  • 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19 (May 1, 1923)
  • 19 (May 15, 1923)
  • 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46.
May 1923
Box/Folder
5/6
Solidarity
1914 May 16
5/7
Tie Vapauteen
1934 April
5/8
The Young Rebel
Christmas, 1929

Leaflets, Small BrochuresReturn to Top

Container(s): Box-folder 5/9

30 items

Miscellaneous ClippingsReturn to Top

Container(s): Box-folder 5/10

20 items

Non-IWW PeriodicalsReturn to Top

Container(s): Box-folder 5/11-5/17

Container(s) Description Dates
Box/Folder
5/11
The Challenge (Y.P.S.L.)
1935 March
5/12
Fourth International
1946 June
5/13
The Communist International
1928 March 15
5/14
Law and Freedom Bulletin, (ACLU)
1924 December 31
5/15
Masses
1917 March
5/16
104 Reporter
1945 July 26
5/17
The Road to Freedom
1927 June

Non-IWW LeafletsReturn to Top

Container(s): Box-folder 5/18

5 items

ScrapbooksReturn to Top

Container(s): Box-folder-box:oversize 5/19/Oversize Box 8

1 volume in folder, 2 volumes in oversize

Proposed Pamphlet Manuscript, 1950Return to Top

Container(s): Box-folder 5/20

Government DocumentsReturn to Top

Container(s): Box-folder 5/21

6 items

Socialist PartyReturn to Top

Container(s): Box-folder 6/1-6/2

Container(s) Description
Box/Folder
6/1
Ephemera
6/2
Circulars

Socialist Party of WashingtonReturn to Top

Container(s): Box-folder 6/3-6/8

Container(s) Description Dates
Box/Folder
6/3
Reports and circulars
21 items
1932-1934
6/4
King County Executive Committee, Minutes
4 items
1935
6/5-6/8
Seattle Branch No. 1
1934-1935
Box/Folder
6/5
Reports and Financial records
9 items
6/6
Outgoing correspondence
6 items
6/7
Incoming correspondence
13 items
6/8
Minutes
12 items

Workers Alliance of WashingtonReturn to Top

Container(s): Box-folder 6/9, 7

Container(s) Description Dates
Box/Folder
6/9
Membership book
1 item
1937
7
Ephemera

Oversized Items, 1917-1928Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
box-folder:oversize
8/1
Charters, Seattle, Washington
Marine Transport Workers Industrial Union No. 510
February 20, 1917
Lumber Workers Industrial Union No. 120
July 15, 1921
General Industrial Union District Council
February 18, 1924
Building Construction Workers Industrial Union No. 330
March 20, 1924
General Recruiting Union, Branch No. 1
April 4, 1926
General Defense Committee, Local 12
June 4, 1928
Poster, "To All Members and Friends of the Industrial Workers of the World"
folder:oversize
8/2
Posters
The One Big Union
The One Great Union
Large photograph labeled "IWW Prisoners Just Before Surrendering at Federal Penitentiary, Leavenworth, Kan."
Photograph relocated to IWW Photograph Collection #922
Box/Folder
8/3
Seattle General Strike Leaflets
9 items
1919