The Autobiography of Mother Jones, 1925


Family working at home, ca. 1900
Courtesy of LOC Prints & Photographs

Mother Mary Harris Jones wrote her autobiography at age eighty-eight. In sharp contrast to autobiographies written today, her intent was not to draw attention to Mary Harris Jones, the person, but to Mother Jones, the labor leader. Consequently, Mother Jones wrote very little about her life prior to her work with the unions.


"Early Years" from The Autobiography of Mother Jones


As you read the document, reflect on the following questions:

  • What role, if any, do you think the loss of her children played in Mother Jones becoming an advocate for child labor laws?
  • What role, if any, do you think the concentration of the epidemic among the poor played in her involvement in labor's struggle?
  • Do you think it influenced her later membership in the Socialist movement?
  • What role, if any, do you think her employment of sewing for rich women played in her decision to become involved in labor's struggle?