Jones, Mary

Jones, Mary (b. Harris) (“Mother Jones”)

(1830–1930) labor leader; born near Cork, Ireland. Emigrating to Canada and then the United States as a child, she was widowed at age 37 when her husband, iron molder George Jones, and four children died of yellow fever (1867); she also lost her home in the Chicago fire (1871). She resumed earlier work as a dressmaker, worked with the Knights of Labor as an organizer, and beginning in the 1890s, after the decline of the Knights, organized coal miners and strikes for the United Mine Workers in Virginia, West Virginia, and Colorado. A legend in her time, known for her bold tactics, she fought on for decades; at age 89 she joined in a major steel walkout, earning a jail term. Her fame revived in the 1960s with the establishment of a socially conscious periodical named after her, Mother Jones Magazine.