"With the growing popularity and demand for cheap electricity in the late 19th century, the dynamo became a major industrial machine and required large quantities of copper; thus copper mining became commercially rewarding for mine owners. At that time, Michigan was a major producing state for "pure" copper, and the rank and file laborers were confronted with joining the ever-growing union movements. Most of the copper miners joined the Western Federation of Miners that was, for a short time, affiliated with the Industrial Workers of the World. Believing that the IWW was too political, the WFM withdrew to maintain its own membership. They struck the Michigan mines in 1913, seeking safer working conditions.
On Christmas Eve, 1913, in Calumet Michigan held a Christmas party at the "Italian Hall." Company strike breakers barred the doors and yelled "fire." In the ensuing panic 73 children were smothered or trampled to death; some reports place the number as high as 89. This tragic example of anti-union violence has been ignored in most histories of the United States, but Woody has immortalized it in this ballad. "
---Liner notes on 1913 Massacre, from album #3 published under The Asch Recordings, Vol.1-4