Yesterday marked the 100th anniversary of the Ludlow Massacre, which took place April 20, 1914. On that day, the State Militia was called in to deal with striking coal miners, who wanted recognition of their union. The Militia fired on the Colorado Fuel & Iron laborers at the Ludlow tent colony for 14 hours. It culminated with the torching of the camp, which led to the deaths of two women and 11 children, who had burned to death after seeking protection by hiding in pits dug underneath their tents. A number of striking miners were also killed in the incident.
An eyewitness account can be found in the 1913-14 Biennial Report of the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the State of Colorado, available in our library. From a dispatch of the United Mine Workers of America, reprinted in the Biennial Report: “‘One hundred and fifty gunmen, in militiamen’s uniform and with state equipment, have, with six machine guns, kept up a constant attack on men, women and children since daybreak Monday morning. … One boy, aged 11, was murdered by the gunmen when he ran to get a drink for his mother, who had lain in a cellar ill…the bodies of from fifteen to twenty men and women are lying on the prairie and in the ruins of the tent colony.'”
The Biennial Report also includes affidavits of striking miners, testimonies of state officials defending their actions, and even the texts of President Woodrow Wilson’s proclamation, proposal for strike settlement, and appointment of a national Peace Commission in response to Ludlow. The Biennial Report represents an important collection of primary source documents in this event of national significance in the Labor Movement.
More resources and eyewitness accounts can be found in the newspapers of the time. See this post from the Colorado State Library’s Yesterday’s News Blog for local newspaper articles of the time. Additionally, the El Pueblo Museum, a property of History Colorado, is running a special exhibit, Children of Ludlow, through 2015. You can also visit the Ludlow site itself, in Las Animas County near Trinidad, which includes a memorial. The site is a National Historic Landmark.
A number of secondary sources can also be found in our library, including several books:
- Representation and Rebellion: The Rockefeller Plan at the Colorado Fuel & Iron Company
- From Redstone to Ludlow: John Cleveland Osgood’s Struggle Against the United Mine Workers of America
- The Archaeology of Class War: The Colorado Coalfield Strike of 1913-1914
- Remember Ludlow!
- The Great Coalfield War