About This Collection
John Mitchell was born at Braidwood, Will County, Illinois, February 4, 1870, the son of Robert and Martha Halley Mitchell. His mother died when he was two years old and his father when he was six. At sixteen he was a member of the Knights of Labor and at twenty-five secretary-treasurer of the Illinois branch of the United Mine Workers (UMW), an organization which had been formed in 1890. He subsequently served as legislative agent, then was appointed organizer, elected vice president of the union, and a few months thereafter was appointed acting president.
Elected president of the UMW in 1899, he served in that office until April 1, 1908, when he declined to stand again for election. Upon retirement, he accepted a salaried position as Chairman of the Trade Agreement Department of the National Civic Federation. He was a member of the New York State Workman's Compensation Commission in 1914 and, in 1915 when the Commission was merged with the New York Department of Labor Industrial Commission, he was appointed Chairman. He held this position until his death on 9 September 1919. He was vice president of the American Federation of Labor from 1898 to 1914 and he represented the UMW at the AFL conventions from 1898 to 1919. He also represented the UMW at the International Mining Congress at Brussels in 1904. He was also president of the New York State Food Administration, chairman of the New York State Council of Farms and Markets, member of the Federal Food Board for New York City, and chairman of the Federal Milk Commission for the Eastern States. His published books were "Organized Labor: Its Problems, Purposes, and Ideals" (1903) and "The Wage Earner" (1912). He died on September 9, 1919, in New York City.
The photographs, 1898-1924, entail many portraits of important people, such as Clarence Darrow and Theodore Roosevelt, as well as significant events like the 1902 Anthracite Coal Strike. There are also photographs illustrating mining techniques of the time, featuring the Beech Flats Coal Company and the Kehota Mining Company.