Joe Hill's ashes

Labor Leaders - historic

Joe Hill provided the American labor movement with one of its most compelling slogans: "Don't Mourn. Organize!" Although he never visited Washington, labor songwriter and agitator Joe Hill turned up posthumously. After his execution by the state of Utah on a trumped-up murder conviction, Hill's body was sent to Chicago to be cremated (Hill had famously declared that he did not want to "be caught dead in Utah"). Packets of his ashes were then mailed to members of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW, or Wobblies) to be scattered in every state. One such packet, intercepted by postal officials under the Espionage Act, ended up at the National Archives. Thanks to the Potomac Labor History Association, the ashes were turned over to the IWW in 1988. However, the envelope remains in the National Archives. It bears a photo of labor's martyr and the caption "Joe Hill, murdered by the capitalist class, November 19, 1915. Industrial Workers of the World. We must never forget." (Jon Garlock, based on reports in the New York Times 11/17/88 and The New Yorker 12/.19/88)


United States



National Archives

7th & D Sts

DC Labor Map

Welcome to the DC Labor Map! Here you can find both current and historic labor sites in Washington, DC, including union hotels, restaurants, international and local union organizations, labor art and historic labor sites. You can use it for an online virtual tour of DC labor, or to plan your visit to our nation’s capital.
CLICK ON "LEGEND" at right to view categories; TO CHOOSE A SPECIFIC CATEGORY just click on it and only those sites will be shown.
We welcome your comments and suggestions: click on the “comments” tab at the bottom of the map. The DC Labor Map is a project of the Metropolitan Washington Council, AFL-CIO: primary research was done by Chris Garlock, Jon Garlock and Lisa Garlock; contributors include: Saul Schniderman, Peter Winch and Fhar Miess.