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Research Guides

Industrial Workers of the World Photograph Collection: Raids on IWW Halls

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

IWW halls were frequent targets for raids by hired assailants or individuals vehemently opposed to the IWW. During these incidents, furniture was often destroyed, windows shattered, and valuable IWW documents and property were vandalized. In more severe cases, raids escalated to include shootings and violent disruptions of meetings, even when children were present.

One striking example is the Walsenburg Shooting, a horrifying instance of a raid on an IWW hall and its members, resulting in the gruesome deaths of numerous members. Similarly, the San Pedro raid in 1924 disrupted a meeting attended by IWW families and their children, leading to members being beaten and killed, while their children suffered burn injuries so severe that hospitalization was required.

These raids also raise concerns for historians, as they hint that many records could be incomplete or entirely destroyed. Some photographs in the UW IWW Photograph Collection appear fragmented and unrelated, reflecting the chaotic nature of these events and the challenges they pose for documenting the history of the IWW.


Slideshow of photos