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Industrial Workers of the World Photograph Collection: Elizabeth Gurley Flynn

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.

Elizabeth Gurley Flynn (1890-1964): A Beacon of Activism

Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, a remarkable figure in the labor movement, left an indelible mark on history. In 1907, she embraced the cause of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) and swiftly transitioned into a full-time organizer. Known as the IWW's "Rebel Girl," Flynn displayed unwavering commitment.

Her fearless activism was demonstrated during the 1909 Free Speech Fight in Spokane, Washington. There, she famously chained herself to a lamp post, deliberately delaying her arrest. Flynn's devotion to the cause led to her arrest a total of ten times, yet she was never charged with a criminal offense.

Flynn's advocacy extended beyond labor rights and organization; she passionately championed women's rights, suffrage, and birth control. Later in her life, she ascended to the role of chairwoman in the American Communist Party.

Among her notable writings are:

Elizabeth Gurley Flynn's legacy continues to inspire, reminding us of the power of activism and the pursuit of justice.

Elizabeth Gurley Flynn

These images are part of the University of Washington Special Collections Portrait Collection

The Enduring Friendship of Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, Joe Hill, and Katie Phar

Elizabeth Gurley Flynn and the imprisoned IWW songwriter, Joe Hill, forged a profound friendship in the wake of Hill's "frame-up," which had evolved into a celebrated labor cause célèbre. United by their shared passion for justice, Flynn and Hill corresponded extensively, and she made multiple visits to him in jail, fervently advocating for his rights.

The notable song "Rebel Girl," composed by Hill, was dedicated to Flynn as a tribute to her unwavering commitment to the cause. When Flynn arrived in Spokane, Joe Hill sought the assistance of a young IWW musician, Katie Phar, affectionately known as the "IWW songbird," to help her perform this poignant song. Phar and Hill, both deeply passionate about music, maintained a friendly correspondence, despite the confines of Hill's prison cell.

This enduring friendship between Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, Joe Hill, and Katie Phar stands as a testament to the spirit of solidarity and the pursuit of justice within the IWW community.

Explore Essential Resources: Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, Joe Hill, and More

The Rebel Girl: An Autobiography, My First Life (1906-1926)

Dive into the life of Elizabeth Gurley Flynn through her compelling autobiography. This book provides a firsthand account of her experiences and activism during the years 1906-1926.

The Letters of Joe Hill

Immerse yourself in the correspondence of Joe Hill, the renowned IWW songwriter. This collection includes letters exchanged between Hill and Elizabeth Gurley Flynn during his time in prison, shedding light on their enduring friendship and shared ideals.

Freda La Mar Pamphlet Collection 1907-1922

Explore a valuable pamphlet collection housed in UW Special Collections, featuring important works such as "Sabotage" (1916) by Elizabeth Gurley Flynn. This guide offers insights into the historical context of these materials.

Iron in Her Soul: Elizabeth Gurley Flynn and the American Left

Delve into the biography of Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, a remarkable figure in labor organization, a founding member of the ACLU, and a leader of the American Communist Party. This book provides a comprehensive look at her life and her significant contributions to the American Left.

These resources offer a rich tapestry of information, from personal narratives to historical context, providing a deeper understanding of the lives and activism of Elizabeth Gurley Flynn and Joe Hill.