The Windham Textile & History Museum has planned a series of programs entitled “A Look at Labor.”
To kick off the programs there will be a reenactment of the Willimantic 1912 strike on Labor Day, September 1 at 6 p.m. The public is invited to dress in vintage clothing (optional) come to the museum to paint their sign, learn a strike song or chant and then join the group as they walk in the steps that workers walked in 1912. The strikers were assisted by some national strike organizers from the IWW Union known as the Wobblies. A few of the famous Wobblies will appear and share excerpts from their actual speeches. The public is invited to come and learn more about the labor issues surrounding the strike. There is no cost to participate. Windham Textile & History Museum, is located at 411 Main Street Willimantic, CT. For more information 860-456-2178. The program is funded in part by a grant from the Ct Humanities.
The strike reenactment is the first in a series of strike programs. On Sunday, September 21 at 4 p.m. Jamie Eves, PhD will give an illustrated lecture on the 1925 strike in Willimantic and on November 16, at 4 p.m. Anna Jaroszynska-Kirchmann, PhD will give a talk on the 1912 strike.
The formal lectures have a suggested donation of $5. The programs are part of Connecticut at Work, an initiative created by Connecticut Humanities that explores the past, present and future of work life in Connecticut. The initiative features the Smithsonian Institution’s traveling exhibition “The Way we Worked” which will visit the Nathan Hale Homestead from August 9 through September 14.
The April 1912 Strike in Willimantic occurred about a month following the famous and successful “Bread and Roses” strike in Lawrence , MA. More than 1000 workers from the American Thread Company went on strike to protest the company’s failure to give a 10% wage increase. The workers were mostly unskilled Polish, Italian, French Canadian and Syrian women. The management thought the protest could be easily crushed because most of the women were not fluent in English. However they managed to send for union representatives from the Industrial Worker’s of the World or the IWW. One of the leaders, 22-year- old Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, arranged for interpreters and urged the strikers to parade down Main street and not to become involved in violence. Flynn has been described as “an East Side Joan of Arc.”
All the lectures are held at the Windham Textile & History Museum, which is located at 411 Main Street Willimantic, CT. For more information 860-456-2178. The program is funded in part by a grant from the CT Humanities.
Connecticut at Work travels across the state through December 2014. The program features the Smithsonian Institution’s The Way We Worked Exhibition , with stops in seven communities: New Haven, Torrington, Hartford, Waterbury, Coventry, Stamford and Groton. Surrounding communities are adding local focus with community history exhibits, book and film discussions, author talks, performances and more. Connecticut at Work is an initiative of Connecticut Humanities, a non-profit affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. In the Coventry region, Connecticut at Work is a partnership with Connecticut Landmarks. The Connecticut tour of The Way We Worked is made possible by Connecticut Humanities and Historic New England. For a calendar of events and more information, visit cthumanities.org/ctatwork.