The Centralia MassacreThis is a featured page

Washington State Archives-Southwest Regional Archives Image: IWW Pamphlet enterred as evidence in the Centralia Massacre Trial in Chehalis (Grays Harbor) County

The November 11, 1919 Armistice Day parade in Centralia ended in a shootout between American Legion marchers and Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) organizers.

Some key historical questions: What led to the confrontation that took place between the American Legion and the IWW? How did this incident start? Why did these two groups oppose each other? Why did the methods used by the IWW lead to such fierce opposition? Who was found guilty? What happened to the IWW? How did this incident change the balance of power in the union movement? How did it affect the American Legion? Who was Rayfield Becker and what role did he play?

Be sure to consider other possibilities for historical questions as you analyze and interpret this topic.

Primary Sources

  • Centralia Massacre Collection
  • Governor Lister's Papers
  • IWW Judiciary Files
  • Secret Service Records
  • Washington State Supreme Court, Case Files
  • Washington State Penitentiary, Inmate Files
  • Governors' Clemency Case Files

  • Pamphlet Files
  • Centralia Massacre File
  • RG21 Federal District Court records 1917-1920
  • ARC Online Collections
  • Digital photographs attributed to the IWW and original case file for sedition

  • American Legion Collection (Trial Transcripts)
  • Rayfield Becker Papers (Defendent)
  • Industrial Workers of the World Seattle Joint Branches
  • Regional Newspaper and Periodical Index

  • Ephemera collection - includes publications from the IWW, American Legion and other material related to the event
  • Industrial Workers of the World, Centralia Massacre Manuscripts Collection (MS 270)
  • Centralia Daily Chronicle: newspaper for Centralia
  • The Vidette: newspaper for Montesano
  • Clippings File: Industrial Workers of the World - Centralia Massacre
  • Clippings File: Centralia - History

Secondary Sources

The Centralia Conspiracy by Ralph Chaplin (1920)
Centralia, Tragedy and Trial by Ben Hur Lampman (1920)
Was it Murder?: The Truth About Centralia by Walker C. Smith (1922)
Centralia Tragedy of 1919: Elmer Smith and Wobblies by Tom Copeland
Forested Land: A History of Lumbering in Western Washington by Robert E. Ficken
Lumber and Politics: the Career of Mark E. Reed by Robert E. Ficken
History of the Labor Movement in the United States, Volume VIII: Labor & World War I, 1914-1918 by Philip S. Foner
Wobbly War: The Centralia Story by John McClelland Jr.
Radical Heritage: Labor, Socialism, and Reform in Washington and British Columbia, 1885-1917 by Carlos Schwantes
Rebels of the Woods: The IWW in the Pacific Northwest by Robert Tyler

History Link: on "Centralia Massacre" and "Industrial Workers of the World"

Latest page update: made by MaryWSL , Sep 4 2008, 2:46 PM EDT (about this update About This Update MaryWSL Edited by MaryWSL

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