UMass Lowell history professor Bob Forrant and Susan Grabski, executive director of the Lawrence History Center have published “Lawrence and the 1912 Bread and Roses Strike” ($21.95). To be released on August 26, it is available for pre-order now. Forrant and Grabski’s new book tells the exciting and powerful story of one of the most important strike’s in labor history. Published by Arcadia Publishers in its Images of America Series, the book contains 180 images, numerous quotes from strike participants, and an historical essay.
About the Strike
“In Lawrence, Massachusetts, fully one-half of the population 14 years of age or over is employed in the woolen and worsted mills and cotton mills, and approximately 60,000 of the 85,982 people living in Lawrence are directly dependent upon earnings in these textile mills.” Thus begins the federal government’s Report on Strike of Textile Workers in Lawrence, Massachusetts in 1912. Completed at the end of June 1912, the report offers readers an extraordinary look at the strike that unfolded between January 11 and March 14, 1912. Neill noted: “Although dissatisfaction over the possibility of a reduction in earnings on account of the shortened hours had really begun before the 1st of January, it is evident that the mill officials did not appreciate the extent of their (workers) dissatisfaction or the possibilities latent in it.” The city’s mill agents believed that the worst reaction “would probably be confined to a strike in a single mill.” Mill overseers went to their beds on the evening of January 10, 1912, oblivious to the commitment workers had made to each other to stand firm and fight for a better life for themselves and their children.
Lawrence erupted into a dramatic struggle between mill owners and workers from several countries, including Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Poland, Russia, Syria, Lebanon, and Turkey. When it commenced, a call went to workers across Lawrence and beyond from the Committee of Ten, the group bargaining directly with William Wood and the American Woolen Company. It read in part: “… now that the combination of capitalists have shown the unity of all our adversaries, we call on you as brothers and sisters to join hands with us in this great movement. Our cause is just… Workers quit your hammers, thrown down your files, let the dynamos stop, the power cease to turn the wheels and the looms, leave the machinery, bank the fires, tie up the plants, tie up the town.”
Authors are available for interviews about the book, book discussions, book signings, radio interviews and union hall programs. They can be reached at: Robert_Forrant@uml.edu, 978.934.2904 Susan Grabski, firstname.lastname@example.org,978.686.9230