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Mark Walker Anthropological Studies Center Sonoma State University Rohnert Park, CA 94928 W: (707) 664-2381 H: (707) 575-1595 Fax: (707) 664-4155 firstname.lastname@example.org
Paper to be presented in the session Commemorating Ludlow, Pacific Coast Branch, American Historical Association, Corvallis OR, August 2005
INTRODUCTION TO THE PROJECT The Colorado Coalfield War Project is a multi-year archaeological that is focussed on the Ludlow Massacre Site. The Ludlow Project is an explicitly political project; an attempt to fuse scholarly labor with working class interests (Ludlow Collective 2001:95). The goal of working with union members and organized labor, an audience outside the traditional realm of archaeology, confronts us with a history little studied by archaeologists and little taught within general historical education. In working at a site such as Ludlow we knew we were going to confront issues of the political nature of the past and the role of the past in constructing identity, specifically working class identity. The notion that the past is only appropriately studied as a scientific object is an ingrained one in North American archaeology. The fact that to most people the past is more than an object of disinterested study is something that archaeologists are increasingly having to realize. This paper emphasizes some of the differences in the memory of Ludlow at different scales, from the silences of national memory to the raucousness of internal union politics. But many other conflicting memories proliferate around the events of 1914 and after, and we encountered them in the course of our work--from claims that the National Guard killed hundreds of miners and buried them in the hills to claims that the strikers massacred a trainload of Mexican workers being brought in as scab labor. We encountered complaints that we were overemphasizing something that was better forgotten, and that we were disturbing sacred ground. We encountered the children of strikers who lived in the colonies, and the children of mine superintendents whose homes were dynamited in the 10 days after the massacre. Regardless of the politics and backgrounds of these narratives, Ludlow still maintains a vital presence in local memory, produced and reproduced through multiple informal networks that we can sometimes only guess at. We knew when starting that we would be confronted with a strong historical memory that has an importance that extends beyond academic concerns, so from the very beginning the politics of the project lay in acknowledging archaeology, not just as history or science, but as memory (Ludlow Collective 2001:96). Ludlow is a memory that is mobilized on behalf of organized workers throughout the US, but is especially powerful in Southern Colorado. The Ludlow Massacre, like many historical episodes, is a silenced history, written out to the margins of national history. The Ludlow Massacre helped change the lives of working class people throughout the United States, so its absence in official history, and the absence of events like it, is in some sense astonishing, although unsurprising. But although it was for most of us on the project, a "silenced history," for union members and communities in Southern Colorado, it is anything but silent.
A HISTORY OF COMMEMORATION AT LUDLOW The mineworkers were aware of the need to commemorate Ludlow in the face of what amounted to organized silence. Because of its political explosiveness Ludlow was a valued memory in the years immediately after 1914. By the 1915 anniversary calls for a memorial were a prominent theme in letters to the UMW Journal. The monument was debated and approved at the 1916 annual convention. Union locals throughout the US raised funds through subscription. The monument was unveiled in May 1918. Vandalism to the monument led to the installation of an iron fence in 1919 and the approval of funds for a caretaker by the International (UMWJ 1919a; Zimmerman, et al. 1919). So on one scale we see organized labor confronting a national memory that denied them existence. When we shift perspectives and consider memory within organized labor, we still see the play of power and the tension of remembering and forgetting. The International Executive of the UMWA felt Ludlow to be the memory to be the memory of the entire union (as represented in the International Executive) not just that of the Colorado miners. In the years after the massacre this was not a minor point. In March 1918 two of the UMWA organizers who had led the strike, John Lawson and Ed Doyle, broke with the UMWA to try to form another union, The Independent Union of Coal Miners of America (Harlin 1918). The documentary record of this union seems to exist primarily in the thunderous declamations against it in the United Mine Workers Journal, articles with heading such as “Ingratitude like a Serpent’s Tooth!” (UMWJ 1918) and “Secession Rears its Ugly Head in Colorado: John R. Lawson and E.L. Doyle, Arch Ingrates, Lead Dual Organization” (Harlin 1918). Although the existence of the dual union was brief the UMWA International saw it as a real threat, especially given the popularity of Lawson and Doyle among the miners. UMWA editorials and circulars initially cast the conflict in terms of secession by the Colorado miners as a whole and attempted to rally national support behind the UMWA leadership by emphasizing the financial sacrifices that the union had made in the struggle. Later missives spoke directly to the Colorado miners reminding them that the Ludlow martyrs had died for the right to join the UMWA specifically. The unveiling of the Ludlow monument in May 1918 was in the midst of this controversy and gave an opportunity for the International Board to strengthen its claim to the memory of Ludlow and to the loyalty of the Colorado miners. Explicit reference to the topic of dual unionism seems to have been absent from the unveiling, although the fact that the Ludlow victims died over the right to join the UMWA was highlighted. However two months later the Colorado miners were reminded in an article in the Journal that stated
the UMWA’s relationship to Ludlow in no uncertain terms and framed the threat of dual unionism explicitly as a failure of memory on the part of the miners of Colorado. My advice to the miners of Colorado—all factions—is to remember the great financial sacrifices made by the miners of America a few years ago in their behalf for freedom and justice; remember those men and women that laid down their lives in that great struggle and the little children burned by the same power that still holds some of them in bondage; remember that the present officers in Colorado are the true representatives of District 15 and remember, last but not least, that there is only one coal miner’s union in this country, the United Mine Workers of America. (Robb 1918) The 1919 memorial service made a direct appeal to the local miners to avoid dual unions (UMWJ 1919b), although by this time the threat was most probably from the IWW rather than the Independent Coal Miners. One of the last major strikes led by the IWW took place in Colorado in 1927 and ultimately led to the unionization of Rocky Mountain Fuel by the UMWA, partially because the UMWA presented itself as a more conservative alternative to the IWW. During the 1927 strike the IWW also made use of the memory of Ludlow by holding a mass meeting at the monument, a move practically calculated to enrage the UMWA (Whiteside 1990:129). The commemoration of Ludlow has always been a site of struggle. The vitality of this memory is a product of the fact that it is under threat. As Pierre Nora observed of sites of memory " We buttress our identities on such bastions, but if what they defended were not threatened, there would be no need to build them." He also noted that "without commemorative vigilance history would soon sweep these away" (Nora 1989:12). Labor cannot match the resources brought to bear on memory by government institutions and corporations. The physical presence of dominant memory on the landscape can be overwhelming. Nevertheless the US is dotted with small local memorial to countless struggles, efforts by unions to also write their own history on the landscape (Green 1995; AFL-CIO 1999; Labor Heritage Foundation n.d.). But without work, memories can be forgotten or meaningless. A monument can soon drift into “invisibility” through habitual viewing (Hallam and Hockey 2001:8). The commemorative ceremonies, held nearly every year since Ludlow, and apparently quite similar in content and structure through the years, create a direct link to Ludlow and the mining families of 1914, celebrating and also creating continuity. The recent vandalism was indeed a "crime against memory" (Green 2004). But in highlighting the threat to that memory and to the history of working people, not to mention the threats to working people themselves, the vandalism made that memory
stronger. However dismaying the lack of mainstream media attention was to the recent vandalism of the monument, the contributions and the speed at which the restoration was accomplished testify to the strength of a memory that exists largely outside the dominant sphere. ARCHAEOLOGY AT LUDLOW As academics working at Ludlow we find ourselves in an unfamiliar terrain. As an academic historical discipline the practices of archaeology in some ways made for an uneasy mesh with the preexisting memory of Ludlow, but in other ways it may be a powerful contribution. Before we began our work at Ludlow, the project principals were challenged at union local meetings over the project (Duke and Saitta 1998) and were questioned by District officials as to their political beliefs (Walker 2003). It is not every archaeological project that starts off with having to prove that you aren't a Republican. In short, we find ourselves crossing from one setting where Ludlow is unknown to another the history is anything but silent—noisy, contested, and jealously guarded. After the archaeological work began, we were invited to speak at union halls and a spur of the moment exhibit we put together to show at the 1999 commemoration has been used by the Pueblo steelworkers and as part of a United Auto Workers organizing effort in Tennessee. The United Mine Workers Journal published updates on our work to keep union members informed. We have also been able to use the appeal of archaeology to broaden public awareness of labor history through Teachers Institutes, a traveling history trunk for schools, newspaper articles, and the immediacy that artifacts and archaeological features bring to public understanding of the past. It is important to bear in mind the distinctions, as well as the similarities, between history and memory. An important aspect of memory is that narratives about the past are used to create identity. Identities are one's relationships with others through the establishment of a common set of interests. These common interests are realized and formulated through memory, which provides common experiences, understandings of those experiences, and guides for action. The practices of academic history vary significantly from those of memory. History is reproduced through the production of formal written texts. It is largely an individual enterprise conducted within an institutional setting. The authority to produce narratives is well defined, and the formal authenticity of the narratives is bound up in truth claims and argumentation over the evidence. A position within the academy generally translates to expertise and authority outside the academy, an authority that is often not welcome.
Memory, on the other hand, is transmitted through far more culturally diffuse forms that tend to be socially and materially rooted. These forms can be institutionally regulated through means such as mass media, museums, and official celebrations and commemorations, but are also often informal; family conversations, photo albums, and oral tradition. The archetypal "memory object" of the late 19th and 20th century west is probably the photograph. Our material worlds are filled with small objects that serve no function other than memory—"memento", "souvenir." Memory is not only the communication of narratives across space, but through time. Unchanging material objects provide us with an illusion of stability and continuity and provide prompts or stimuli for memory. Memory is reproduced through landscapes and monumental architecture, but also through the smallest objects. We must consider these objects, which reproduce memory in everyday life (Hallam and Hockey 2001). Another important distinction is that while history thrives on alterity, memory essentially denies it. As historians, anthropologists, and archaeologists, the events and actions we study cannot be too close to us. The idea of the historical distance or otherness as a means to objectivity and neutrality is deeply embedded in our practice. Objects of study must be disconnected from us in order for us to maintain a disinterested pose, and simply to make those objects worthy of study. Memory, on the other hand, seeks sameness in the past. An identity rooted in the past must be the same through time. One problem for archaeologists working on a site of memory is that they break this link between past and present. They are a profane intrusion into sacred time. In most people’s minds nothing says a past is dead and gone like an archaeologist’s interest in it. Maintaining the link between past and present and remembering that the past still labors in the present is an important aspect of working outside the academy. Archaeologists working in public outreach and interpretation realize the importance of this linkage, but sometimes this seems to involve little more than anachronistic titles, such as inserting "The First" before the name of a modern political entity. Another issue is that archaeology, by virtue of its institutional settings, funding sources, and the class backgrounds of archaeologists themselves, tends to operate within this sphere of official memory (Trigger 1984; McGuire 1992; Patterson 1995, 1999). Historical archaeology itself is firmly rooted in creating a heritage that defines a national identity (Schuyler 1976; Shackel 2000). Memory operates at many scales from individual to national, or even supranational. As communities of identity shift in scale, for example from identity as a member of a rural town to a member of a nation-state, so too does memory shift. In local and small-scale settings, the bonds of identity may actually be forged in the memory of shared experience, but as the circle of identity grows geographically to take in more and more
anonymous others (Anderson 1983), the memories that provide these bonds are pushed further back in time, invoking distant origins and heritage, and becoming less rooted in shared experience, and more in imagination. Memory at these larger scales becomes more institutionalized and regulated, reproduced through officially sanctioned methods and media. Ours is an audience that shares common experience with the inhabitants of Ludlow, not necessarily as miners but as organized labor. The identity between present-day working class people and those at Ludlow is rooted in concrete experience rather than ideological formulations. They know what it is like to work in an industrial setting and they know what it means to go on strike. They don’t endure the violence that the earlier workers had to when they struck, but strikes are rarely settled by violence. At its most basic, a strike is a war fought the over your family’s stomachs. The main weapons are not guns or clubs, but household budgets. Regardless of spectacular actions and violence, much of the hard labor of a strike falls on the women. The outcome of the 1913-1914 strike lies in the cans, bottles, and food remains from Ludlow. These are the residues of desperate decisions. This is an experience that rings as true today in Pueblo, Colorado as it did at Ludlow. Bearing this in mind it is worth considering that academic approaches to gender and diet may resonate in our public outreach more than realize. In working at Ludlow we see the functioning of memory in the present, historically and archaeologically. We find the small mementos brought across the Atlantic, objects that reinforce memory and identity. The historical records speak of the ethnic diversity of strike camp in terms that traditionally speak to archaeologists of on-going cultural traditions. Many of the artifacts we recovered speak to us in almost exaggerated ways of ethnicity and emergent nationality--buttons inscribed with Habsburg eagles and "Societa Alpinisti Tyrolesi," bottles from Milan, as well as the Adriatic city of Zara (which was Austro-Hungarian in 1914, Italian in 1915, Yugoslavian in 1947, and is now Croatian), and religious medallions. But they are important not because they represent a passive continuity of ethnic identity but because they represent identities under threat. The identities of the families in the coal camps and at Ludlow were being reconfigured in dramatic ways. Many of these objects may be seen as mnemonics intended to enable a continuity of identity, even through the uprooting of their migration and the unfamiliar life of the Colorado coal industry. Their identities often shifted from being rooted in local and regional networks to the national identities that archaeologists and others traditionally equate with ethnicity, identities that were actually forged in industrial America. When these emigrated, they found themselves being organized in workgroups and neighborhoods, working and living as “Irish,” "Greek," and "Italian." So
paradoxically it was in the US that these men and women from villages in Ulster, Crete, or Sicily became, not only “Americans” and “workers,” but also “Irish,” “Greeks,” and “Italians.” Common experiences of life in coal camps such as Berwind forged new memories and solidarities, ones rooted in class. The site and the monument of Ludlow commemorate the identity forged in the 1913-14 strike and in subsequent strikes. They are part of a continuum of memory objects, from the small objects brought from other places, to the monument and the accretions of recent memory around the monument. An archaeological metaphor seems redundant but nonetheless apt.
AFL-CIO 1999 A Collection of Workers' Memorials. http://www.aflcio.org/safety/wmd_mem.htm. Anderson, Benedict 1983 Imagined Communities. Verso, London. Duke, Philip, and Dean J. Saitta 1998 An Emancipatory Archaeology for the Working Class. Assemblage 4:http://www.shef.ac.uk./assem/4/4duk_sai.html. Green, Archie 1995 Labor Landmarks: Past and Present. Labor's Heritage 6(4):26-53. Green, James 2004 Crime against Memory at Ludlow. Labor: Studies in Working-Class History of the Americas 1(1):9-16. Hallam, Elizabeth, and Jenny Hockey 2001 Death, Memory, and Material Culture. Berg, Oxford. Harlin, Robert H. 1918 Secession Raises Its Ugly Head in Colorado: John R. Lawson and E.L. Doyle, Arch Ingrates, Lead Dual Organization. United Mine Workers' Journal, March 14, Labor Heritage Foundation n.d. Inventory of American Labor Landmarks. Labor Heritage Foundation, Washington DC. Ludlow Collective 2001 Archaeology of the Colorado Coal Field War, 1913-1914. In Archaeologies of the Contemporary past, Victor Buchli, and Gavin Lucas, editors, pp. 94-107. Routledge, London. McGuire, Randall H. 1992 A Marxist Archaeology. Academic Press, New York. Patterson, Thomas C. 1995 Toward a Social History of Archaeology in the United States. Harcourt Brace College Publishers, Philadelphia. --1999 The Political Economy of Archaeology in the United States. Annual Reviews in Anthropology 28:155-74.
Robb, David 1918 To the Colorado Miners. United Mine Workers Journal, July 11, p.23. Schuyler, Robert 1976 Images of America: the Contribution of Historical Archaeology to National Identity. Southwestern Lore 42(4):27-39. Shackel, Paul A. 2000 Archaeology and Created Memory: Public History in a National Park. Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publisherd, New York.
Trigger, Bruce 1984 Alternative Archaeologies: Nationalist, Colonialist, and Imperialist. Man 19::355-370. UMWJ 1918 Ingratitude Like a Serpent's Tooth! United Mine Workers Journal, March 21, 1918, pp.4-6. --1919a --1919b New Iron Fence Erected Around the Miners' Monument at Ludlow. The United Mine Workers Journal, August 15, Tribute is Paid to the Memory of Ludlow Martyrs. United Mine Workers Journal, May 15,
Walker, Mark 2003 The Ludlow Massacre: Class, Warfare, and Historical Memory in Southern Colorado. Historical Archaeology 37(3):66-80. Whiteside, James 1990 Regulating Danger: the Struggle for Mine Safety in the Rocky Mountain Coal Industry. The University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln. Zimmerman, John, John O'Leary, and William Dalyrymple 1919 Letter to Wm. Green, Secretary Treas. UMWA, recommending Leo Brytto as caretaker of Ludlow Monument. Executive Data, Folder 15. In UMWA Archives, Pennsylvania State University, State College , PA.
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