Elizabeth Gurley Flynn – narration
From lecture at Northern Illinois University, “Personal Recollections of the Industrial Workers of the World.” 8 November 1962. Sponsored by Clio History Club and the Student Peace Union.
Digitally remastered by Air Show, Springfield, Virginia.
Elizabeth Gurley Flynn (1890-1964) actively organized for the I.W.W., primarily as an orator. She had joined the New York City Local 179 of the I.W.W. at age 16. She was a leader of women in the U.S. and internationally, even beyond her roles in labor and politics (at her death in 1964 she was chair of the Communist Party USA). She was one of the founders of the American Civil Liberties Union.
In her autobiography, The Rebel Girl (An Autobiography, My First Life, 1906-1926. New York: International Publishers, 1973). Gurley (as Wobblies called her) wrote extensively of Joe Hill, and she often spoke of him in lectures such as this one nearly fifty years after she visited him in jail for one hour in May 1915. Though they met only once, they corresponded frequently—as she did with many labor figures. Joe Hill wrote to a friend, Oscar Larson, “The song and the ‘Girl’ that I like the best of my own is ‘The Rebel Girl’” (30 September 1915). Gurley was, as Hill wrote to her, more than a Fellow Worker, she was an inspiration to him.