About Us

This website is a project of the Mother Jones Heritage Project, a non-profit organization incorporated in 2014.  This website domain has been in place since 2007, and we have been a virtual museum since that time. We were further inspired by the 2012 Cork Mother Jones Festival, which we helped to get off the ground.  We helped to develop the Mother Jones Museum in Mt. Olive, IL  as our first step in a larger project.

If you are interested in getting involved, contact Director Rosemary Feurer 815-754-4750 or e-mail  [email protected]

Address for Mother Jones Heritage Project is 630 Joanne Lane DeKalb IL 60115.

Board of Directors, Mother Jones Heritage Project:

Rosemary Feurer — public historian, Northern Illinois University

Margaret Fulkerson — Working Women’s History Project

Elliott Gorn — Loyola University, author Mother Jones: America’s Most Dangerous Woman

Marat Moore — Daughters of Mother Jones

Emily LaBarbera Twarog — University of Illinois

David Rathke– Eugene Debs Foundation

Saul Schniderman —  AFSCME; Secretary, Labor Heritage Foundation

Stephanie Seawell Fortado – University of Illinois

Judy Simpson  — Illinois Labor History Society

Academic Advisory Board, Mother Jones Heritage Project

Rosemary Feurer  — author, historian, public history project advisor, Northern Illinois University

Elliott Gorn  — author, Mother Jones, the Most Dangerous Woman in America, Loyola University

Simon Cordery  -author,  Mother Jones: Raising Cain and Consciousness, Western Illlinois Univeristy

Priscilla Long– author, Where the Sun Never Shines

Thomas Andrews, historian, author Killing For Coal, professor, University of Colorado, Boulder

Bucky Halker — Folksinger and Historian, Company of Folk

Greg Boozell — Journalist, filmmaker

Lara Vapnek —  St. John’s University  author of Breadwinners, Working Women and Economic Independence, 1865-1920

Statement of Purpose/Mission

The Mother Jones Heritage Project will collaborate with a network of partners to collect, interpret, and preserve the legacy of labor activist Mary Harris “Mother” Jones. In addition, it will profile the stories of the ordinary people who shaped their communities into a challenge to the existing social order based on inequality in the past, with the aim of thinking about the relevance to the world we have inherited.

The network consists of individuals, scholars, educators, organizations, sites, and municipalities working to share these compelling stories of the struggle for human rights and labor dignity.

Mother Jones was concerned with expanding workers’ rights; coal miners and their families were a vital part of that history.  The MJHP will focus on Mother Jones while uncovering and sharing the sites and stories of the lives of ordinary people affected by the fight for labor and human rights. The project will share the Mother Jones legacy through museums, historic sites, tours, a website, and interactively through social media. New technology allows the MJHP to link sites across the U.S. and to tell the stories to different audiences in innovative ways. The MJHP pledges partnership across a variety of interests.

We started our interpretation at the Macoupin County, Illinois sites where Mother Jones chose to be buried, because she argued it was the birthplace of rank-and file industrial unionism in the United States. The Mother Jones Museum in Mt. Olive, Illinois and the Mother Jones Monument in Union Miners Cemetery are one part of an expanding network of groups.

We commit to collaboration with scholars and educators and design interpreters from planning to output for a project based in sound interpretive practice and historical research.

Major interpretive themes in the MJHP include:

1.The role of labor protest in creating the society that we inherited. The same sorts of challenges that workers faced then are being faced now. This history needs to be told.

2. Using the story of Mother Jones to educate the public about the global movement for worker’s rights. Jones’ story profiles a belief in human potential that was shared by labor activists a century ago, a story that is still relevant to the present. Jones was the most well-known women in the US in this period, a folk-hero, a brilliant organizer, and a powerful speaker who shaped the labor movement. See the map to get an idea of the world she shaped.

3. We will profile the ethnically and culturally diverse miners’ communities struggle for a voice in their economic destiny, as well as in the unions they organized.

4. The women of the coalfields struggle for a voice in society.

5. Debates over the meaning of democracy, liberty and freedom that led to dramatic conflicts in coal mining communities in this period.

6. The role of memory and forgetting in shaping controversial points of our past, especially violent episodes.