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Research Guides

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 earned the moniker of the "hobo agitator" among the IWW members. A man of diverse ethnic and occupational heritage, Little was part Cherokee, part hard-rock miner, and part hobo, he truly embodied the essence of a Wobbly. A close comrade once offered a vivid description of him, characterizing him as someone perpetually aligned with rebellion, struggle, and the fight for justice. Frank Little possessed the remarkable ability to incite change wherever he ventured, consistently stirring up collective action and organizing workers to rise against oppressive conditions. He shared a deep bond with fellow insurgents worldwide, becoming a blood brother to those who championed the cause of labor rights.

In 1917, he embarked on a mission to support copper miners in Butte, Montana, despite having endured multiple injuries in the service of this noble cause. Tragically, on August 1, 1917, he was lynched by vigilantes for his organizing efforts. Among his fellow Wobblies and laborers, Frank Little was revered as a hero and martyr. His memory and the legacy of his tireless dedication to workers' rights endure.


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

Frank Little Political Cartoon

The IWW demonstrated remarkable proficiency in the art of political cartooning. Within their publications, they frequently employed such cartoons to convey their objectives, exhibit their strengths, and highlight the injustices inflicted upon their members and fellow laborers. The cartoon depicted above poignantly illustrates the lynching of Frank Little in the background, while the Copper Trust manipulates the press into disseminating the narrative that Little was a traitor deserving of his fate, effectively masking the true injustice committed against 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 from the scrapbooks of the Industrial Workers of the World Seattle Joint Branches Records, Box 5, Folder 19 (UW Special Collections):

  • "Tortured to Death—Observe the bruised state of the body. The inhumane perpetrators dragged their victims behind the car before carrying out the lynching." (photo caption in Big Scrapbook)

  • The initial image of Frank Little's Funeral: An IWW leader, who fell victim to vigilante lynching in Butte, Montana. The funeral procession was notably orderly. The casket was adorned with red carnations and red ribbons, emblematic of the IWW, and the IWW members responsible for carrying the casket proudly displayed large sashes in the same vibrant red hue, symbolizing the IWW's commitment to their cause.

Frank Little After Lynching

This photograph records Frank Little following his gruesome ordeal of torture and lynching. Strikingly, this image was printed on a postcard, revealing its intended use for wide circulation among the public. The IWW consistently employed political cartoons and photography as organizing tools, often commemorating their martyrs through these visual mediums. While the Everett Massacre is perhaps the most renowned instance of using photographs of deceased members' bodies, the IWW seized any opportunity to leverage such photographs for maximum impact.