Relatively little is known about Mary “Mother” Jones’ early life. But in her fifties, she appeared on the labor scene, helping to support a national march of the unemployed known as Coxey’s Army. For the next forty years, Jones moved constantly around the country, building unions and supporting strikes. She covered any number of industries, but her closest attachment was to the nation’s coal-miners, and they were the ones who gave her the name Mother Jones. The men loved her courage in confronting the mine-owners, as well as the contrast between her demure, grandmotherly appearance and her ferocious – sometimes profane – support of their cause.
Sandra Opdycke, Ph.D. is an historian. She has written books about the flu epidemic of 1918, the woman suffrage movement, the WPA of the 1930s, and Bellevue Hospital, as well as a biography of Jane Addams, an historical atlas of American women’s history, and several co-authored books and articles on social policy. She worked for a number of years at Hudson River Psychiatric Center, and later taught American History and Urban History at Bard, Vassar, and Marist Colleges. She serves as an occasional lecturer at the Center for Lifetime Studies in Poughkeepsie.