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Colorado Coalfield War: Topics in Chronicling America

In 1913, civil war breaks out in the Southern Colorado coalfields between coal miners and mine operators. This guide provides access to materials related to the "Colorado Coalfield War" in the Chronicling America digital collection of historic newspapers.


"Ruins of tent colony of strikers at Ludlow, Colo., after battle with mine guards. A number of women and children were killed." May 3, 1914. The Daily Missoulian (Missoula, MT), Image 1. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers.

Southern Colorado breaks into civil war as striking coal miners battle the Colorado National Guard. The strike, involving human rights, power and money, wreaks violence, death and destruction to tens of thousands of people and their homes, only to end a year later in failure. Read more about it!

The information in this guide focuses on primary source materials found in the digitized historic newspapers from the digital collection Chronicling America.

The timeline below highlights important dates related to this topic and a section of this guide provides some suggested search strategies for further research in the collection.


September 23, 1913 After their demands are ignored, 9,000 coal miners in Colorado begin striking and violence erupts.
October 28, 1913 Martial law declared as Colorado Governor Elias Ammon orders the Colorado National Guard to the coalfields. Guards hold off strikers with machine guns and high-powered rifles.
November 27, 1913 Governor Ammon permits mine operators to bring in strikebreakers due to money problems and violence intensifies.
April 20, 1914 Ludlow Massacre occurs and the Colorado National Guard attacks a tent city killing 24, nearly half of which are children.
April 20 - 30, 1914 The Colorado Civil War culminates into intense warfare between miners and guards while spanning 80 miles of coalfields.
April 24, 1914 Governor Ammon asks President Woodrow Wilson for aid. A temporary, unenforceable truce is called.
April 28, 1914 President Wilson orders federal troops to Colorado. Both sides are forced to disarm and violence ends.
December 1914 Strike officially ends. Coal miners are defeated.
May 3, 1915 Union Leader John R. Lawson is sentenced to life in prison for murder.
September 1915 John D. Rockefeller, Jr. visits Colorado mines in hopes of improving relations.
June 4, 1917 The Colorado State Supreme Court overturns the conviction of John R. Lawson.