Northeastern Pennsylvania's Forgotten Labor Massacre: Analysis pf the English Language Record of the Lattimer Massacre
Date of Award
Open Access Thesis
Master of Arts (MA)
Vincent J. Cannato
The Lattimer Massacre occurred on September 10, 1897, in a small anthracite mining town in northeastern Pennsylvania. The bloody conflict erupted when an unarmed group of mostly Eastern European immigrant mine workers lethally clashed with militantly armed sheriff’s deputies who acted on behalf of private coal companies. Nineteen strikers died at the scene and dozens more were horrifically wounded. Despite the outraged shock of the community clamoring for justice which led to a murder trial that made international headlines, the Lattimer Massacre faded from local and national memory in the following decades. A combination of lingering nativist prejudice curated by capital and elite society and a lack of surviving evidence from the Eastern European immigrant community contributed to the Massacre’s absence from broader historical discussion of Gilded Age labor organization in the United States.
This works seeks to position the Lattimer Massacre within Gilded Age American society in an effort to acknowledge the roots of ethnic and economic conflict between established immigrant groups and newly arriving Eastern and Southern Europeans in northeastern Pennsylvania. This study seeks to understand how the community memory of the Lattimer Massacre influenced historical scholarship. A lack of historicization of primary sources created a distorted understanding of the immigrant led strike activity. This distorted view positioned Lattimer as a rare moment of extremes rather than the explosion of decades of conflict between immigrant workers and capital. Analysis of the English-language newspaper record and community produced documents brings out fresh insights about the anthracite community of northeastern Pennsylvania and the evolution of Lattimer’s memory in the historical record. Appraisal of the source materials exposes the critical role of women and families in immigrant strike activity, demonstrates how Slavic immigrants understood their positions in an evolving American society, and creates a more complex understanding of how American society perceived and reacted to unionization and immigrant labor.
Costello, Jamie C., "Northeastern Pennsylvania's Forgotten Labor Massacre: Analysis pf the English Language Record of the Lattimer Massacre" (2022). Graduate Masters Theses. 718.
Ethnic Studies Commons, Labor History Commons, Labor Relations Commons, United States History Commons