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Polly Pry and Molly Brown

Polly Pry and Molly Brown. Modupe Labode, NEH Seminar, July 13, 2010. Introduction. Modupe Labode, Assistant Professor of History and Museum Studies at IUPUI (Indiana University–Purdue University, Indianapolis). Email: mlabode@iupui.edu

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Polly Pry and Molly Brown

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  1. Polly Pry and Molly Brown Modupe Labode, NEH Seminar, July 13, 2010

  2. Introduction • Modupe Labode, Assistant Professor of History and Museum Studies at IUPUI (Indiana University–Purdue University, Indianapolis). • Email: mlabode@iupui.edu • Worked as a docent at the Molly Brown House Museum and as Chief Historian of Colorado Historical Society • Introduced to Leonel Ross Anthony O’Bryan through Kristen Iversen’s biography of Margaret Brown.

  3. Why does Polly Pry matter? • Fits the model of a western women about whom tall tales have been told: • Alfred Packer connection • “Sob sister” • What do we discover about journalism, society, and gender when we go deeper into the story?

  4. Source of Images: All images, unless otherwise noted, are from the Denver Public Library website.

  5. Polly Pry • Leonel Ross Campbell Anthony O’Bryan. • Born in Mississippi in 1857 • Died in Denver, 1938

  6. Denver Post, founded in 1893 • Founded by Frederick Bonfils and Henry Tammen • “So the People May Know.” • Embellished story of Pry and Bonfils meeting in Timberline, by Gene Fowler • Image: Frederick Bonfils with Amelia Earhart, 1931

  7. Simon Guggenheim • 1867-1941: Born in Philadelphia • Moved to Colorado in 1888, first to Pueblo and then to Denver. • Head of Philadelphia Smelter • US Senator from Colorado, 1907-1913 • Moved to NY: Head of American Smelting and Refining • He established he John Simon Guggenheim Foundation in 1925 in memory of his son, who died as a teenager in 1922.

  8. Charles Hoyt, playwright, 1859-1900

  9. How would you use this article? • Example of political reporting? • Gender issues in the west? • Influence of the theatre? • Origins of philanthropy? • Example of popular anti-Semitism? • Image: USS Maine http://www.loc.gov/rr/hispanic/1898/intro.html

  10. Alfred Packer, 1842-1907 “Man-eater of the San Juans” Hinsdale County, Colorado

  11. Alfred Packer’s Release • Polly Pry, Denver Post, and Packer • Paroled in 1901 • Died in Littleton, CO in1907. • Resources: Colorado State Archives http://www.colorado.gov/dpa/doit/archives/pen/packer/

  12. Labor Struggles Colorado’s Labor Wars Vincent St. John • Mine Owners’ Associations • Labor Organizing in hard-rock mining (silver and gold) led by the Western Federation of Miners • Organizing in coal fields

  13. Polly Pry Journal, 1903-1905: Covered society and politics 1340 Pennsylvania Ave. & 1344 Pennsylvania Ave: William Henry Jackson, photographer

  14. Margaret Brown, Leadville, 1889 with Larry and sister Ellen Polly Pry on Margaret Brown (Iversen: 138) “Mrs. Brown was Irish, when Leadville saw her first, with a certain charm and frankness that went well with the face full of irregular features and laughing blue eyes, [although] the mouth generally smiling was not altogether lacking in good qualities.”

  15. Helen Brown, dressed in a “medieval costume,” ca. 1900, Denver • From Polly Pry, Feb. 11, 1905 “Helen Brown, the Titianesque beauty, will at look well in the play. . .Here’s luck to the annual Lindsey-bad-boy-Mrs.-J.J. Brown-show. We’ll all be there Molly darlin’”

  16. Helen Brown Benzinger (left) and Margaret Brown, Littleton, Colorado, 1909.

  17. Margaret Brown, Denver, ca. 1900-1910 • From Polly Pry, Nov. 26, 1904 • “Mrs. Eddy-Ernest Smith was there, chaperone by Mrs. Rose; Mrs. J.J. Brown looked like a full-blown tiger lily. . .”

  18. Margaret Brown, Denver, ca. 1910-1914. • From Polly Pry, April 15, 1905 Our New Philanthropist So Mrs. Brown has leased a mine To help the youngsters! Well, that’s fine All that it makes will go to aid The juveniles!. . . I doff my hat to Mrs. Brown! Philanthropy is scarce in town. . .

  19. Margaret Brown, ca. 1915 • From Polly Pry, Dec. 13, 1904 “Some of our society matrons have a pretty wit of their own—especially when enhanced by an Irish quickness to see and opportunity and take advantage of it. . .”

  20. Polly Pry and Colorado’s Labor Wars • WFM activities in hard-rock mining areas as well as smelting areas (Telluride, Silverton, Durango, Georgetown, Cripple Creek, Victor, etc.) WFM leaders: Bill Haywood, Charles Moyer, • Attempts by coal miners to organize under the United Mine Workers of America (UMW)—led by John Mitchell • Widespread union activity and organization (carpenters, hod-carriers, waiters, bakers, electricians, teamsters, barbers, etc.) • Governor James Peabody repeatedly called out the Colorado National Guard in mining regions during 1903-1904 • Many business and mine owners organized Citizens Alliances.

  21. Cripple Creek during the strike, September 1903

  22. Cripple Creek Strike: National Guard, 1903

  23. Polly Pry, April 2, 1904: On Colorado’s labor conflict • “A dangerous spirit is abroad in our land. It is bringing ruin and desolation upon thousands of people. It threatens the very life and soul of our most cherished institutions. It is a hydra-headed evil, replete with possibilities for infinite calamity. . . It is a think of foreign growth. Its disciples know nothing of the spirit of liberty, of broad tolerance, and splendid independence that animates the American people. It is called—anarchy, and its twin brothers are ignorance and assassination.”

  24. Mother Jones (Image from history.umd.edu) • Mary Harris: born in Ireland in 1830 • 1901-1904 Organizer for the United Miners Workers of America, a time when the union was attempting to organize in Colorado, among other places • Image: http://www.history.umd.edu/Gompers/update/motherjones.htm

  25. Polly Pry vs. Mother Jones From Polly Pry, March 5, 1904, p. 15 “. . . ‘Mother’ Jones, otherwise Mary Harris, alias Pauline Blair, who, according to the police records, trafficked in the vileness of one sex and the degradation of another in Denver, Omaha, Kansas City, even far-off San Francisco. “Who, herself, while mistress of a house which is now 2114 Market Street, had a consort known as ‘Black-leg!’” • Rumor picked up in newspapers such as Deseret Evening News (Utah). • Image: http://www.kentlaw.edu/ilhs/majones.htm

  26. Impact of Rumor Telluride Journal: 1/7/04 Silverton Standard: 1/16/04 “If the biography of ‘Mother Jones’. . .is true, intelligent coal miners with handsome buxom young daughters, should hesitate in taking ‘Mother’ in their homes . . .” “No good woman will blaspheme the character of another. ‘Mother Jones,’ we believe is much more sincere in her mission among strikers than Polly Pry is among the Capitol Hill elite of Denver. . .”

  27. From The Autobiography of William D. Haywood (1929): page 135 “A notorious magazine, called Polly Pry’s Magazine, printed a frightful tirade against Mother Jones. John Mitchell of the United Mine Workers seemed to think that there was some truth in the things that were written, and to his lasting disgrace, he discharged Mother Jones as an organizer, after all the brave work she had done for the miners of West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and elsewhere. I was glad to get her as an organizer for the WFM. She worked for us a short time during the Cripple Creek strike, but then took up her work among the coal miners again.”

  28. Blatherskite: Merriam-Webster Dictionary • Main Entry: blath·er·skite • Pronunciation: \ˈbla-thər-ˌskīt\ • Function: noun • Etymology: Scots, alteration of blather skate, from blather, blether blather + skatea contemptible person • Date: circa 1650 1: a person who blathers a lot2:nonsense, blather

  29. How do we discuss this rumor? • Letter in Miners’ Magazine: “What do You Think It?” by George Hilleary • Gender and Sexuality • Journalism and Ethics • Mother Jones remained active in Colorado (and elsewhere). She died 1930 • Image: http://womenshistory.about.com/od/motherjones/p/mother_jones.htm

  30. Colorado National Guard in front of Independence Mine, 1903

  31. Independence Depot, June 6, 1904: 13 non-union miners were killed in the explosion

  32. Polly Pry: The Later Years • Journal closed in 1905 • Began the short-lived Saturday Sun • Wrote plays, short stories • Reported for a Denver Times during Mexican Revolution (ca. 1914), and therefore wrote little about the 1913-1914 coal strike and Ludlow Massacre in April 1914.

  33. April 1914: Ludlow Massacre

  34. Polly Pry: Later Years • Life after World War I • Lakeside Amusement Park • Died in Denver in 1938 • Obituary, Denver Post, July 16, 1938, p. 1 “‘Polly Pry’ passes to ‘The Next Scene’: Mrs. Leonel Ross O’Bryan, One of the Most Brilliant Stars in American Journalism, Dies of Heart Attack After Long Illness. . . Wherever she went, eyes followed Polly Pry. . .”

  35. Thank you!

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