Labor historian Rosemary Feurerchampions efforts to recognize Mother Jones

Historians in the News
tags: Mother Jones, Rosemary Feurerchampions

“Mother Jones was the most important female labor activist of the early 20th century,” Feurer says. “She was the lead organizer of the United Mine Workers of America and helped to end child labor. Yet she is largely forgotten.”

Feurer’s latest effort to make sure Mother Jones’ memory endures will be realized with the unveiling a historical marker and small exhibit at 1 p.m. Monday, Dec. 11, at the busy Coalfield Rest Area along Interstate-55, about 15 miles south of Springfield.

The marker commemorates the work of Mother Jones and the actions of coal miners who marched to improve labor conditions in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The event will follow a noon wreath-laying ceremony at the Mother Jones Monument in Mount Olive’s Union Miners Cemetery, where Mary Harris “Mother” Jones is buried. An Irish immigrant who overcame terrible life tragedies, Jones chose to be interred there to honor the memory of the regular folks who built the labor movement.

Feurer, an expert on U.S. labor history and conflict, will be among the speakers at the ceremony for the marker dedication. The rest area is a fitting site, she says.

“We wanted to bring the history of Mother Jones and the role of miners in Illinois and U.S. history to a wider audience,” says Feurer, who serves as director of the Mother Jones Museum and Heritage Project, which sponsored the marker. ...

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