University of Arizona

                                           In preparation for the Tucson Festival of Books (March 9 & 10), Special Collections will be closed on Friday, March 8th

Remembering the Bisbee Deportation of 1917

Bisbee deportation of IWWs, July 12, 1917.

May 1st is May Day or International Workers' Day in many parts of the world.

Perhaps the most infamous event in Arizona labor history is the Bisbee Deportation of 1917, an illegal vigilante action taken against striking copper workers and the residents of Bisbee. The outbreak of the World War I drove copper prices up and turned the Bisbee mine into a 24/7 operation.

On June 24, 1917, workers represented by the Industrial Workers of the World (I.W.W.) presented a list of demands to the mine owners that included increased safety measures, and a wage system that did not discriminate by race and was not tied to the market price of copper. 

Our digital exhibit The Bisbee Deportation of 1917 draws from materials in Special Collections, the Arizona Historical Society, Tucson, Arizona, and the Sharlot Hall Museum, Prescott, Arizona to tell the story of the event.

One manuscript collection, Bisbee deportation legal papers and exhibits (AZ 114) contains official court documents and exhibits pertaining to two of the lawsuits. Materials include firsthand accounts of the deportations, court depositions, and I.W.W. literature that were entered as evidence in the case. The Truth about Bisbee (AZ 115) is a typescript collection of primary accounts of the deportation and its aftermath. 

Learn about our collection and research guides and using the collections.