Michigan Tech Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections

People, Place and Time
Michigan’s Copper Country Through the Lens of J.W. Nara, 1874-1934


Strike, 1913

On July 23, 1913, Keweenaw miners went on strike against the region’s copper companies in what would be remembered as the most volatile chapter of Copper Country history. The strike marked a ten-month long period of violence and conflict in the copper mining district. At least 84 people lost their lives in the violent acts that occurred during the strike. Mine workers, their families, the community, and the copper companies were drawn into a conflict that would push the geographically remote region into the national view as a battleground between union and corporate interests.

Calumet photographer J.W. Nara documented many aspects of the strike until its end in April 1914. In addition to photographs of mines, soldiers, and strike parades, Nara also captured life in the affected communities along the copper range. Perhaps most somber were photographs relating to the tragic events at Calumet’s Italian Hall on December 24, 1913. Reacting to what many claim was a false fire alarm, families of striking miners at a Christmas party clogged an exit stairway in the building. In the ensuing crush, more than 70 individuals lost their lives, most of them children.

Strikers Parade
Image #: Nara No Neg 2010-02-04-02

Italian Hall Victims
Image #: MTU Neg 00825