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Archaeology of Class War

The Colorado Coalfield Strike of 1913-1914

Edited by Karin Larkin and Randall H. McGuire

Publication Year: 2009

"The Archaeology of Class War has much to recommend it, especially to specialists in Colorado, labor and industrial, ethnic, and gender history."—Center for Coloardo & the West The Archaeology of the Colorado Coalfield War Project has conducted archaeological investigations at the site of the Ludlow Massacre in Ludlow, Colorado, since 1996. With the help of the United Mine Workers of America and funds from the Colorado State Historical Society and the Colorado Endowment for the Humanities, the scholars involved have integrated archaeological finds with archival evidence to show how the everyday experiences of miners and their families shaped the strike and its outcome. The Archaeology of Class War weaves together material culture, documents, oral histories, landscapes, and photographs to reveal aspects of the strike and life in early twentieth-century Colorado coalfields unlike any standard documentary history. Excavations at the site of the massacre and the nearby town of Berwind exposed tent platforms, latrines, trash dumps, and the cellars in which families huddled during the attack. Myriad artifacts - from canning jars to a doll's head - reveal the details of daily existence and bring the community to life. The Archaeology of Class War will be of interest to archaeologists, historians, and general readers interested in mining

Published by: University Press of Colorado


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pp. v-vi


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pp. vii-x


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pp. xi-xii

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Preface and Acknowledgments

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pp. xiii-xx

On the morning of April 20, 1914, Colorado National Guard troops opened fire on a tent colony of 1,200 striking coal miners and their families at Ludlow, Colorado. Armed miners returned the militia’s fire while their families hid in cellars under their tents or scurried across the plains for safety. The Guard continued firing machine guns and rifles into the colony until late afternoon and then overran the camp, looting tents and setting them aflame. ...

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1. Unearthing Class War

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pp. 1-28

At Ludlow, a granite coal miner gazes resolutely across the windswept plains of Colorado. Beside him, a woman in classical drapery clutches her baby with one hand and rests her head on her other hand in grief (Figure 1.1). Once they gazed up into mountain valleys teeming with activity. Great coal tipples loomed over miners’ homes shrouded in the acid smoke of coke ovens. In recent times they ...

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2. A Terrible Unrest: Class War in Colorado

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pp. 29-68

On April 21, 1914, class warfare raged on the plains of southern Colorado. Near the Ludlow railroad depot, troops of the Colorado National Guard hunkered down in a burned-out union tent colony, besieged by armed strikers. The morning before, they had attacked the colony with machine gun and rifle fire and, after a daylong battle, driven the strikers out. The bodies of two women and ten children lay at the bottom of a dark, ...

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3. Archaeology and the Colorado Coalfield War

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pp. 69-122

The Colorado Coalfield War Archaeology Project (CCWAP) strove to complement the written history of the 1913–1914 labor strike in southern Colorado. While the written history provides a thorough description of the events and their larger implications, it does not paint a complete picture of how the events affected the daily lives of the men, women, ...

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4. Building the Corporate Family: Constructing Homes, Families, and the Nation

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pp. 123-160

A year and a half after the tragic events at Ludlow, John D. Rockefeller Jr. embarked on a tour of the coal camps of southern Colorado. Donning overalls, the young Rockefeller visited nearly every camp in the Trinidad area (Figure 4.1). At Berwind he ate with a group of miners in the boardinghouse, visited prisoners in the local jail, and attended a party at which he danced with miners’ wives ...

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5. From Shacks to Shanties: Working-Class Poverty and the 1913–1914 Southern Colorado Coalfield Strike

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pp. 161-186

The Ludlow Massacre thrust the brutalities of labor conflict and the realities of working-class poverty into the American consciousness. The well-publicized reforms that followed the strike successfully focused national attention on “improvements” made to miners’ lives and the new relationship forged between management and labor in the early twentieth century but did little to change the ...

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6. Landscapes of Hope and Fear: A Study of Space in the Ludlow Strikers’ Colony

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pp. 187-218

During the 1913–1914 strike, strikers and their families, along with the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA), established a new community on the plains of southeastern Colorado. This community offered more than shelter to strikers and their families. It was also a symbolic expression of what miners and their families wanted in the establishment of place and home in the coal camps. ...

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7. Material Culture of the Marginalized

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pp. 219-250

The history of the southern Colorado coalfields is a complex one involving social interactions among established residents, Anglo-Americans, Hispanos, African Americans, Asians, and newly arriving immigrants from Europe and Mexico. By studying the material culture of immigrants and “in-between peoples,” we can begin to examine their experiences in America and the cultural negotiations that ...

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8. “Thou Shalt Not Dose Thyself”: Proprietary Medicine Use at the Ludlow Tent Colony

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pp. 251-284

In 1913 the coal miners of southern Colorado drew up a list of seven demands to be presented by their union, the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA), to the mining companies. The sixth of the seven demands encompassed the frustration miners and their families felt over their employers’ intrusion into all aspects of home life—a lack of choice in where to live, where to shop, ...

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9. Working Parents and the Material Culture of Victorianism: Children’s Toys at the Ludlow Tent Colony

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pp. 285-310

The “mass exodus” of striking families from the coal camps in the rain and snow on September 17, 1914, struck an emotional chord among those who saw it (Long 1989:272). In her historical account of the 1913–1914 strike, Priscilla Long quotes remarks Mary “Mother” Jones made to the strikers several days later: “ ‘There was a lot of poor wretches on that wagon,’ Jones said of one family, ...

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10. Archaeology and Workers’ Memory

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pp. 311-330

The Ludlow Project is an explicitly political project, an attempt to fuse scholarly labor with working-class interests (Ludlow Collective 2001:95). The goal of working with union members and organized labor, an audience outside the traditional realm of archaeology, confronts us with a history little studied by archaeologists and little taught within general historical education. ...

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11. Teaching Class Conflict: A Trans-Atlantic Comparison Using the Colorado Coalfield War Archaeology Project in Undergraduate Curricula

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pp. 331-350

Like many good collaborations, this chapter began in a pub. When the 2005 Society for Historical Archaeology meetings were held in York, England, the two of us took the opportunity to get in a good visit. As newly minted faculty teaching historical archaeology, we spent much of our time talking about teaching, discussing students, and comparing notes about pedagogy as viewed from ...

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12. Why We Dig: Archaeology, Ludlow, and the Public

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pp. 351-362

From its inception, the Colorado Coalfield War Archaeology Project was committed to developing a serious and focused public outreach component. We hoped we could go beyond the public lecture and other traditional forms of information sharing—important though these outlets are—to involving the public actively in our work and to a continuing conversation about its relevance ...


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pp. 363-380

E-ISBN-13: 9781607320395
E-ISBN-10: 1607320398
Print-ISBN-13: 9780870819551
Print-ISBN-10: 0870819550

Page Count: 432
Illustrations: 103 illustrations
Publication Year: 2009

OCLC Number: 558840891
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Archaeology of Class War

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Coal miners -- Colorado -- Ludlow -- History -- 20th century.
  • Social conflict -- Colorado -- Ludlow -- History -- 20th century.
  • Ludlow (Colo.) -- Antiquities.
  • Coal Strike, Colo., 1913-1914 -- Sources.
  • Ludlow (Colo.) -- Social conditions -- 20th century.
  • Ludlow (Colo.) -- Social life and customs -- 20th century.
  • Excavations (Archaeology) -- Colorado -- Ludlow.
  • Coal Strike, Colo., 1913-1914.
  • Material culture -- Colorado -- Ludlow -- History -- 20th century.
  • Working class -- Colorado -- Ludlow -- History -- 20th century.
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