Italian Hall disaster 24/12/2013

1913 Italian Hall Disaster was a Michigan Christmas Eve tragedy

CALUMET, MI – When you first hear the details behind the 1913 Italian Hall Disaster, the tragedy seems too terrible to be real.

Imagine a crowded Christmas Eve party inside a large social hall at the heart of the Upper Peninsula’s Copper Country. Most of the guests are union miners’ families, glad for some holiday cheer because they’re five months into a labor strike.

Photos from the 1913 Italian Hall Disaster

More than a century after the Italian Hall Disaster on Christmas Eve 1913, the deaths of 73 people at a party for striking mine workers remain a scar on the tiny town of Calumet.

The Italian Hall

The Italian Hall is the most famous landmark of mining history in all of Calumet, known worldwide as a symbol of the battle between immigrant miners and a powerful, benevolent, but paternalistic company.  The story was interpreted differently by the various sources–English language newspapers presented the company point of view, while foreign language papers were the miner’s voices. The Christmas eve of 1913 was during a long bitter strike, at a time when miners sought some joy from a Christmas party.  The town was full of national guard and scabs from far away. The miners and their families got an unexpected and undeserved outcome of death that echoed across the whole country. It may have broken the resolve of miners in Calumet, but strengthened the International Mine Workers Union for its longer-term struggle.

Italian Hall disaster

The Italian Hall Disaster (sometimes referred to as the 1913 Massacre) is a tragedy that occurred on December 24, 1913, in Calumet, Michigan. Seventy-three men, women, and children, mostly striking mine workers and their families, were crushed to death in a stampede when someone falsely yelled “fire”at a crowded Christmas party.

Yuletide union busting: Inside the Italian Hall Disaster on Christmas Eve 1913

104 years ago this month, some 400 miners and their families were at a Christmas Eve celebration in Calumet in the Upper Peninsula. 73 men, women and children would not live to see Christmas Day.

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