Skip to main content

Ludlow Massacre: Topics in Chronicling America

The Ludlow Massacre was initiated by anti-striker militia during the Colorado Coalfield War. This guide provides access to materials related to the “Ludlow Massacre” in the Chronicling America digital collection of historic newspapers.

Introduction

"Where ten miners were killed in battle... View of Forbes camp after the fighting." May 4, 1914. New-York Tribune (New York, NY), Image 4. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers.

From 1913 to 1914, Colorado coal miners and owners bitterly, and often bloodily, battled over labor strikes. Tensions reached fever pitch on April 20, 1914 when the Colorado National Guard, paid by mine owners, entered the Ludlow mining community and shots began to fire on both sides. Thinking everyone had fled, the National Guard set fire to the tent camp, killing almost 15 hidden women and children. The Massacre sparked nationwide protests. While the strike continued on until December, John D. Rockefeller, Jr., the chief mine owner, became a villain of the press. 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.

Timeline

April 20, 1914 After months of labor disputes, the National Guard enters the Ludlow mining community and a deadly battle quickly ensues. Thinking everyone has fled, the Colorado National Guard sets fire to the camp, killing at least 13 women and children hiding inside.
April 28, 1914 John D. Rockefeller, Jr., the primary shareholder of the mine company, faces increasing scrutiny for his role in massacre.
April 29, 1914 Noted muckraker Sinclair Lewis and other protesters are arrested outside of Rockefeller headquarters. Soon after, Lewis gives a scathing address, asserting that Rockefeller is half vampire.
April 30, 1914 President Wilson orders federal troops into Colorado to restore peace.
May 26, 1914 Colorado Judge Ben Lindsey criticizes Rockefeller’s blindness to situation of miners and calls on President Wilson to take a stand against Rockefeller.
June 2, 1914 Militiamen testify in front of US Commission on Industrial Relations and defend and downplay their actions.
December 1914 As the strike continues, families prepare for their second winter living in tent camps.
December 26, 1914 President Wilson orders the withdrawal of federal troops and the appointment of a board to resolve labor differences.