Agnes Burns Wieck

This article about ‘hell raiser’ Agnes Burns Wieck was published Oct. 22, 1933, in the East St. Louis Journal-Illinois Magazine. Her name is misspelled in the article.

CARBONDALE – A special Labor Day broadcast of “We Were Not Ladies. We Were Women” will be broadcast on WSIU Radio 91.9 FM.

The program focuses on 1930s Illinois labor leader Agnes Burns Weick and her role in the Illinois Mine War. It airs at 8 p.m. Monday, Sept. 7.

Wieck was the first president of the Illinois Women's Auxiliary of the Progressive Miners of America.

The 1930s were a tumultuous time for workers, and Illinois was no exception. Illinois miners were deeply divided in a bloody conflict that lasted for years, which later became known as the Illinois Mine War.

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Instigated by John L. Lewis, the controversial president of the United Mine Workers of America, the mine war involved rival unions, coal companies, the state militia and even former Gov. Henry Horner.

Through her leadership, Wieck, originally from Spillertown, forged a new role for women in the labor movement and challenged Lewis to end the violence in the Illinois' coal fields. The documentary features interviews with historians, first-person accounts and re-enacted performances to tell Agnes' remarkable story.

“This is an important, yet overlooked chapter in Illinois history,” said Greg Boozell, producer. “Agnes Wieck was a remarkable leader, and her work can speak to us today."

To preview a clip from the documentary and for more information go to www.minewar.org/?page_id=1741.

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