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Primary sources and Historical Fiction: America’s Joan of Arc

Album Description

Anna Klobuchar Clemenc (Clements), also known as “Big Annie” and America’s Joan of Arc, is the central character in The Women of Copper Country, a historical novel by Maria Doria Russell. Set in Upper Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula in 1913, the novel chronicles the work of Anna and the Ladies Auxiliary of the Western Federation of Miners. A significant event is the Italian Hall disaster. Christmas Eve, 1913, a citizen falsely shouted fire in the crowded building as children of union members were celebrating Christmas, killing over 70 people, mostly children.

Secondary characters are citizens of Calumet and a photographer who documented Annie’s work and illustrated the power of photography after the disaster.   (In the novel the photographer is a fictional composite based on the actual journalist and is described as influenced by 19th century Journalist and reformer Jacob Riis.)

Labor organizer Mother Jones also visits Calumet to help the cause and other historical figures are mentioned. 

Underlying themes of living in a company town, the power of the mining company, union vs. non-union, the power of journalism, ethnic struggles and perceptions. (Italian, Slovenian, Finnish, Jewish) a changing America, young romance and illicit romance.   The novel invites discovering sources – there is a lot to find.

  9 - 12   13+   Social Studies/History   Mines   Labor Strikes   Anna Klobuchar Clemenc   Calumet, Michigan    Local History   Historical Fiction


A mile underground--loading and handling cars with copper ore, Calumet-Hecla Mines, Calumet, Mich.

Reference note

Summary: Men pushing trams, loaded with copper ore.
Contributor Names: Keystone View Company.
Created / Published: Meadville, Pa. : Keystone View Company, manufacturers and publishers, c1916.
Subject Headings: -  Calumet and Hecla Consolidated Copper Company--Facilities--1910-1920
-  Copper mining--Michigan--Calumet--1910-1920
Notes: -  J218074 U.S. Copyright Office.
-  Copyright by Keystone View Company.
-  No. 22037.
Repository: Digital Id: cph 3c16294

Miner drilling copper rock with Leyner machine. Preparatory for blasting; Calumet-Hecla Mines, Calumet, Michigan

Reference note

Created / Published: c1916.
Notes: -  Stereo copyrighted by Keystone.
-  This record contains unverified, old data from caption card.
-  Caption card tracings: Shelf.
Repository: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA
Digital Id: cph 3a48706

Photo of Anna Klobuchar Clemenc with a flag

Calumet, Hecla & Red Jacket, Mich. : 1881

Reference note

Contributor Names: Wellge, H. (Henry)
Beck & Pauli.
Stoner, J. J.
Created / Published: Madison, Wis. : J.J. Stoner, [1881]
Subject Headings: -  Calumet (Mich.)--Aerial views
-  Hecla (Mich.)--Aerial views
-  Red Jacket (Mich.)--Aerial views
-  United States--Michigan--Calumet
-  United States--Michigan--Hecla
-  United States--Michigan--Red Jacket
Notes: -  Bird's-eye view.
-  LC Panoramic maps (2nd ed.), 340.1
-  Available also through the Library of Congress Web site as a raster image.
-  Indexed for points of interest.
Repository: Library of Congress Geography and Map Division Washington, D.C. 20540-4650 USA dcu
Digital Id:

The Heart of the copper country, Calumet, Mich.

Reference note

Contributor Names: Detroit Publishing Co., copyright claimant
Detroit Publishing Co., publisher
Created / Published: [between 1880 and 1930]
Subject Headings: -  Copper industry
-  Lumber industry
-  Dwellings
-  United States--Michigan--Calumet
Genre: Dry plate negatives
Panoramic photographs
Notes: -  Videodisc images out of sequence; actual left to right order is: 1A-07008, 07007, 07006, 07005, 07004, 07003, 07002.
-  Numbers on negatives (left to right): "G3308 L", G3309 LLC", "G3310 LC", "G3311 C", "G3312 RC", "G3313 RRC", "G3314 R".
-  Detroit Publishing Co. no. 010964.
-  Gift; State Historical Society of Colorado; 1949.
Repository: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA
Digital Id: det 4a07008 //
det 4a07007 //
det 4a07006 //
det 4a07005 //
det 4a07004 //
det 4a07003 //
det 4a07002 //

Italian Hall, 400 block of Seventh Street between Elm & Pine Streets, Calumet, Houghton County, MI

Teaching Notes

Significance: Italian Hall, built in 1908 to the design of Paul Humphrey Macneil, was the site of the 1913 Christmas Disaster. In July of 1913 the miners struck the mining companies of the Michigan copper range. At Christmas the women's group of the strikers' organization held a party for their children. They rented the Italian Hall, a large second floor public meeting room owned by an Italian mutual benefit society. During the party, someone yelled, "fire." There was no fire. However, many of the large crowd, about four hundred, rushed for the exit stairs. The exit doors at the bottom of the stairs opened inward. People could not get them open and they began to pile up in the stairwell. About seventy-four persons died, over half of them children. The event led to even greater bitterness between union and company partisans. Woody Guthrie wrote the song "Copper Country 1913 Massacre," about the Italian Hall disaster. Architecturally, the Hall itself remains in quite good condition with stenciled decorations, tin ceiling, and impressively complete stage and machinery.

National Park Service: Anna Klobuchar Clemenc

Michigan Women Hall of Fame: Anna Clemenc

Labor Hall of Fame

Teaching Notes

Anna Klobuchar Clemenc was inducted in 2013. Mother Jones is also a member.

1913 Massacre (Music lyrics and Bob Dylan video)

Teaching Notes

Lyrics and music by Woody Guthrie.

Video: Bob Dylan singing the song about the Italian Hall disaster.

Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living. Mother Jones 1902

Reference note

Summary: Poster showing Mary "Mother" Jones, half-length portrait, facing slightly left.
Created / Published: [between 1965 and 1980]
Subject Headings: -  Jones,--Mother,--1837-1930
-  Labor leaders--1960-1980
Genre: Portraits--1960-1980
Notes: -  Title from item.
-  "Southern Conference Educational Fund" and address pencilled on verso.
-  Gift; Gary Yanker; 1975-1983.
Repository: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA
Digital Id: yan 1a38247 //

Jacob Riis: Revealing “How the Other Half Lives

Teaching Notes

A Library of Congress online exhibition

Tumult and Tragedy : Michigan's 1913-14 Copper Strike.

Teaching Notes

Michigan Technical University, Houghton.  Library Archives