Northbound Coalfield I-55 Mother Jones Marker & Exhibit

Northbound Coalfield I-55 Mother Jones Marker & Exhibit

While she often said that “my home is my shoes” Mother Jones stayed in Illinois frequently on her travels across the United States from the 1890s to the 1920s.

Dedicated December 2018 in cooperation with the Illinois Department of Transportation, at the Coalfield Rest Area, I-55 Northbound, 25 miles south of Springfield, 65 miles from St. Louis.

This is one of just over 400 markers dedicated to Illinois History sanctioned by the Illinois State Historical Society. We are proud to have one of the handful that places Mother Jones and Illinois labor history in perspective.

The indoor marker at this site tells the little-known story of the Mining Women March to Springfield in 1933. Through the Vamonde or TheClio smartphone apps, visitors can hear an audio documentary about this march. This was a march in the tradition of Mother Jones, and was led by working class women, the largest labor march of women up to that time. 

The apps also allow visitors to hear performances by Vivian Nesbitt of Mother Jones. See example here


Credits, outdoor marker:

Text by Elliott Gorn with assist by Rosemary Feurer, photo selection by Elliott Gorn. Fabulous design by Kate Klimut. Additional woodcut art by Lindsay Hand. Production by Witt Sign. Installation by Shane Austin, Business Manager of Iron Workers Local 46 and crew Kyle Spooner, Apprentice Bryan Jennings, Apprentice Sandra Miller (former mine worker), Journeyman Edward Ray, Additional logistical support and committee work by David J. Rathke, Terry Reed Jim Dixon , Stephanie Seawell Fortado. IDOT facilitation by Michael Staab. The original idea for the markers at the coalfield site came from Dave Rathke, developed through a Great Journeys grant at Northern Illinois University by Rosemary Feurer with assistance from Robert Glover, Northern Illinois University.

We couldn’t have done this without the support of many others, including especially the financial  support of the Consulate General of Ireland and the Emigrant Support grant, United Mine Workers of America, Mother Jones Foundation, United Council Staff Union of Illinois, Springfield & Central IL Trades & Labor Council, Illinois Labor History Society, Illinois State Historical Society, Illinois Humanities, Northern Illinois University, Southwestern Illinois Building Trades.