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Industrial Workers of the World Photograph Collection: San Pedro, 1923-1924

Interpretive exhibit examining the historical and cultural context of the the Industrial Workers of the World Photograph Collection at the Labor Archives of Washington, University of Washington Libraries Special Collections.

The Story

San Pedro, California was a hotbed of IWW activity during the 1910s and early 1920s.  IWW efforts to organize workers were often met with violence by individuals and organizations that saw them as a threat.

In June 1924, the  Ku Klux Klan attacked the members of the San Pedro IWW at their meeting hall during a benefit for two workers killed in a railroad accident. The KKK beat many of the 300 members; kidnapped, tarred, and feathered others; destroyed the meeting hall, and scalded two children by burning them with a pot of coffee. 

The two children--May Sundsted and Andrew Kruglis--were hospitalized for their burns and this collection includes photographs of them with handwritten notes on the back from photographer E. F. Moffett.


Poetry

“Little children, little babies

Screaming, sobbing, dashed in steam

By the monsters who repaid them

Oath and blow for every scream….

Little children, raw and bleeding, burnt and tortured.”


--The Shame of California and Other Poems "The San Pedro Outrage.”

Industrial Workers of the World Seattle Joint Branches records, Labor Archives of Washington State, University of Washington Libraries Special Collections, Seattle, Washington.

San Pedro IWW Hall Raid Victims

Articles

One of the best ways to find sources on the San Pedro raid is to look through the IWW's newspaper. They have articles on any events their members were involved in. They will be heavy with the IWW's bias beliefs but also a treasure for observing the spirit of the IWW and how strongly they believed in their cause. For starters take a look at these:

 Industrial Solidarity: UW Libraries Microfilm (A5675) (Or Industrial Worker, a newspaper by the IWW)

  • June 18th, 1924 "U.S. Navy Men Scald Children"
  • June 15th, 1926

Follow this link to find the mircofilm in UW Libraries:

http://search.lib.uw.edu.offcampus.lib.washington.edu/title/industrial-worker/oclc/1753113&referer=brief_results

The Telling Captions

These are some of the captions handwritten on the back of photographs:

  • "May Sundsted age 9, a beautiful refined high school [danceruse] and a favorite among the workers of San Pedro where she was born. Her mother, a sturdy woman of Finish birth was also beaten and clubbed by the savage mob, who attacked I.W.W. Hall on June 14th. Scores of others were also clubbed, burned, tarred and feathered. It was the children who suffered the worst. And the fiends came bent….."
  • "Andrew Kruglis, age 9 is in a serious condition he was the first one out of the Hall. As the fiends came rushing in, Andrew ran as fast as he could for a block when overcome by a man in blue who threw a pot of boiling grease on his bare legs. Note the blotches on his knee and righ foot where the new skin has formed. The bandaged portions are where the wounds are deep. He is baring his misfortunes, but has several weeks more to suffer"