Dangerous Women: Mary Harris “Mother” Jones and Frances “Fanny” Sellins exhibit at the Carnegie Room, St. Louis Public Library.
The exhibit calls for a historical marker at the site of 13th & Washington to honor Sellins, who was murdered by enemies of the labor movement.
The exhibit is looking for a new home in 2023.
This new exhibit opened on July 5, and so far, the response to it has been fabulous. The exhibit was funded in part by an Emigrant Support Grant from the Government of Ireland. I want to thank the Chicago Consulate for this support. At NIU, I worked with brilliant undergraduate Emma Flynn Barton-Norris, who was funded by a Student Engagement Fund grant by NIU.
The staff of the library is working with us for some programming. We'll update on this site when we have those dates ready to announce.
The folks at OC Creates (OCCreates.com) have been wonderful to work with on the graphic design, including posters that we were invited to add to the exhibit at the last minute. Leslie Latimer created this and was a dream to work with. OC Creative's Brian Oster gave us a huge in-kind donation for their work as well and the entire staff cared about the project. We can't thank them enough for their hard work and innovative contribution.
We commissioned two works of art for this project from the funds from the grant, one by Kathleen Scarboro-- the centerpiece mural. I worked initially with Kathleen Farrell and Kathleen Scarboro but Scarboro initiated this work. The colors in the piece are embedded in the exhibit board as well.
We've posted previously about Lindsay Hand's work for this exhibit, and it's great to pair her portrait of Fannie Sellins with the 2017 Mother Jones painting that was originally commissioned for the Mt. Olive museum, but is now part of this exhibit. At the last minute, project friend Jim Schoppman came through with a frame for this new Sellins portrait.
It's been great working with the staff of the St. Louis Public Library. Cathy Heimberger and Barbara Higgins facilitiated and installed this exhibit, paying for the production of most of the exhibit boards.
Here is a sneak peak at the exhibit:
The Intro Board:
The exhibit connects Mother Jones and Fannie Sellins, but also tells the story of the way that law and threats were used to reinforce the hierarchies of the workplace. It tells the story of Marx & Haas, where Fannie Sellins organized with others to contest that hierarchy.
On the Library main level, you will find these poster kiosks, with 16 posters. Thanks to Dave Dowling for these images.
Below: Sara Dowling produced this Fannie Sellins stand up, and Leslie Latimer of OCCreative completed it. We paired it with the Mother Jones stand-up and two images from Kate Klimut, who helped in numerous ways to initiate this project.
The exhibit seeks to draw connections between Mother Jones and Fannie Sellins, portray the violence in the law and policing of these times, and profile their attempts to build a multi-ethnic solidarity. For the first time it gives a fuller explanation of how Fannie rose from the St. Louis movement, and why she was not remembered there after she died.
The exhibit also seeks to generate a historical marker at the site of the sweatshop where Fannie Sellins worked and fought back. Fannie, as leader of the garment workers, was prohibited from picketing or visiting Marx & Haas, the largest clothing maker in the city at the time, at 13th & Washington (now called the Knickerbocker Lofts). See motherjonesmuseum.org/fanniesellins to donate for this marker.
The exhibit has some great items in the vitrine cases, including the delegate badge seen in this photo below!
Below: The exhibit connects past and present. Mother Jones took May Day as her birthday, and this recent version of the May Day vision by Christen Alqueza is displayed next to the one from her era.
Thanks to all who helped to make this exhibit. In addition to those named below, Jim Schoppman and Sara Gene Dowling assisted after this panel was completed: