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 working as a virtual museum since that time. We got a boost for the project from 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 (see Museum page) as our first step in a larger project.
If you are interested in getting involved, contact Rosemary Feurer 815-754-4750 or e-mail [email protected] Address for Mother Jones Heritage Project is 630 Joanne Lane DeKalb IL 60115.
To see some visual outlines of the project, skip to the bottom of this page.
Statement of Purpose
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 democratic challenge to the existing social order 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, and 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 believe that starting our interpretation a 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, is appropriate. The Mother Jones Museum in Mt. Olive, Illinois and the Mother Jones Monument in Union Miners Cemetery are anchors. The Mother Jones Museum will be a permanent location by contract and will not fade away as some museums do.
But there is much potential beyond Macoupin County to expand this project throughout Illinois and the nation. We seek to connect these sites to others of vital national importance in Chicago and across the country that are associated with this vital labor history.
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.
These are the members who have accepted leadership and advisory positions in building the project. We pledge to work with stakeholders, like the local museum, cemetery, local communities to work out joint plans for various sites.
Board of Directors, Mother Jones Heritage Project:
Rosemary Feurer — historian; producer and director, Mother Jones, America’s Most Dangerous Woman
Margaret Fulkerson — Working Women’s History Project
Saul Schniderman — secretary, Labor Heritage Foundation
Judy Simpson — Illinois Labor History Society
David Rathke– Eugene Debs Foundation
Marat Moore — Daughters of Mother Jones
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