University of Arizona

Students, faculty, staff, and the public are now welcome to visit Special Collections without an appointment from 9 am to 5 pm, Monday through Friday.

Remembering the Bisbee Deportation of 1917

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Bisbee deportation of IWWs, July 12, 1917.

May 1st is May Day or International Worker’s 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. 

While we don't have a curated exhibit about the deportation that you can visit, Special Collections holds many items and books about the event. 

One manuscript collection, Bisbee deportation legal papers and exhibits, 1919, 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 is a typescript collection of primary accounts of the deportation and its aftermath. 

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