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Industrial Workers of the World Photograph Collection: Frank Little

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.

His Story

Frank Little was known as the wobblies' "hobo agitator". He was part Cherokee, "part hard-rock miner, part hobo, he was a Wobbly." An old friend once described him: "he was always for the revolt, for the struggle, for the fight. Wherever he went he 'stirred up trouble' and organized the workers to rebel…He was a blood brother to all insurgents...the world over." In 1917, he went to help copper miners in Butte, Montana even though he had suffered several injuries for the cause. On August 1, 1917, he was lynched by vigilantes but was known as a hero for his fellow wobblies and workers.

Dubofsky, Melvyn. 1969. We shall be all ; a history of the Industrial Workers of the World. Chicago: Quadrangle

Frank Little Political Cartoon

The IWW was very skilled with cartooning. They often had political cartoons in their publications to represent their goals, strengths and injustice done to members and fellow workers. The cartoon above is a representation of of Frank Little being lynched in the background as the Copper Trust assures the press to just tell their readers that Frank Little was a traitor and deserved the lynching, covering up the injustice done to him.

Frank Little



Most sources on Frank Little are in books written about the IWW or articles from the IWW publications, but some articles can be found about his lynching. Looking through archival newspapers is useful for finding perspective on the IWW.

Scrapbook's Tribute to Frank Little

Notes concerning Frank Little in the scrapbooks of the Industrial Workers of the World Seattle Joint Brances Records, Box 5, Folder 19 (UW Special Collections). 

•  "Tortured to Death--Note the bruised condition of the body. The inhuman fiends dragged their victims after the automobile before lynching him.” (photo caption in Big Scrapbook)

• First picture of Frank Little’s Funeral: IWW leader lynched by vigilantes at Butte, Montana, no disorder, casket was covered with red carnations and red ribbons, IWW members who carried the casket wore large sashes of red (IWW colors)

Frank Little After Lynching

Here is Frank Little after he was tortured and lynched. This photograph is actually printed on a postcard, intended to circulate throughout the public. The IWW used political cartoons to show their strength as an organization and often used photography for  their martyrs. Everett Massacre was the most well known event for using photographs of deceased member's bodies, but they used these types of photographs whenever they had the chance to make an impact with them.