Season 1, Ep. 12 (Part 1): Jeremy Harmon shares new insights about Joe Hill
Jeremy Harmon, Salt Lake Tribune Director of Photography (since 2007) has many interests, including the preservation and use of the Tribune’s immense photographic holdings (both analogue and digital), which he oversees on a day-to-day basis.
Harmon has also developed during the last six years a keen interest—following the well-established (but not so often followed in the digital world) journalistic tradition—of investigating and tracking down hard evidence. Harmon, and other Salt Lake Tribune reporters, have tracked down newspaper accounts, personal correspondence, police records, prison records, federal records and union records, all concerning Joe Hill (Swedish-American labor activist, songwriter, and member of the Industrial Workers of the World), who met his death in the Utah.
Harmon was a key contributor to the Salt Lake Tribune’s website “The Legacy of Joe Hill” and is passionate about Salt Lake City’s untold stories.
Harmon describes the back drop of early 20th century industries, the vast world of immigrant workers (Hill was a Swedish immigrant), how they came to work on the railroads, and in Utah’s mines and smelters. He describes the growth of unions in the West, especially the IWW or Wobblies, who maintained offices in Salt Lake City. Harmon then describes the killing of another immigrant some two weeks prior, by a Salt Lake police officer, which offers new insight into the Joe Hill story. Harmon then describes the crime (the murder of a grocer and his son on 773 South West Temple), Hill’s arrest, his trial and his execution at Utah’s State Penitentiary (now Sugarhouse Park).
In segment two Harmon and “Speak Your Piece” host Brad Westwood, discuss the best history books to read on Hill, and the Salt Lake Tribune’s website “The Legacy of Joe Hill” (all listed below). Harmon urges listeners not to read Pulitzer Prize winner Wallace Stegner’s book Joe Hill (1969, described as a “biographical novel”) which Harmon thinks has done much harm for evidentiary-based history; notwithstanding the book’s literary value.
Harmon finally describes the most recently discovered primary sources, his and other’s hypotheses regarding why Hill did not defend himself, and who he may have been protecting (a married women, his Swedish and labor union friends).
URLs (book purchase links, associated exhibit, products, video links, etc.)
The Salt Lake Tribunes “The Legacy of Joe Hill,” website includes a most assessable collection of accounts, primary sources, photographs, renditions of Hill’s labor songs, and much more.
Harmon’s Pics: Buy them on-line or order a copy from your local bookstore.
Franklin Rosemont, Joe Hill: The IWW and the Making of a Revolutionary Working Class Counterculture; Chicago: Charles H Kerr, 2003. ISBN: 9780882862644.
William M. Adler, The Man Who Never Died: The Life, Times, and Legacy of Joe Hill, American Labor Icon; New York: Bloomsbury, 2011. ISBN: 1596916966.
Gibbs M Smith, Labor Martyr: Joe Hill; Layton, Utah: Peregrine Smith Books, 1969. ISBN: 0448011417.