Writing Labor’s Emancipation
The Anarchist Life and Times of Jay Fox
- PUBLISHED: June 2022
- SUBJECT LISTING: Pacific Northwest / History, Biography, Autobiography, and Memoir
- BIBLIOGRAPHIC INFORMATION: 276 Pages, 6 x 9 in, 10 b&w illus.
- ISBN: 9780295750583
- Publisher: University of Washington Press
Jay Fox (1870–1961) was a journalist, intellectual, and labor militant whose influence rippled across the country. In Writing Labor's Emancipation, historian Greg Hall traces Fox's unorthodox life to highlight the shifting dynamics in US labor radicalism from the late nineteenth to the early twentieth century.
Radicalized as a teenager after witnessing the Haymarket tragedy, Fox embarked on a lifetime of union organizing, building anarchist communities (including Home, Washington), and writing. Thanks to his sharp wit, he became an influential voice, often in dialogue with fellow anarchists such as Emma Goldman and Lucy Parsons.
Hall both explores Fox's life and shines a light on the utopians, revolutionaries, and union men and women with whom Fox associated and debated. Hall's research provides valuable knowledge of the lived experiences of working-class Americans and reveals alternative visions for activism and social change.
Authors & Contributors
Greg Hall is professor of history at Western Illinois University. He is author of Harvest Wobblies: The Industrial Workers of the World and Agricultural Laborers in the American West, 1905–1930.
Three major contributions of Hall’s study stand out. First, it challenges the trope of the violent anarchist, and explains anarcho-syndicalism and anarchist communism, appealing to Fox and others who valued the power of organized workers. Second, it highlights activists’ logistical work to keep organizations and publications afloat. Volunteer labor, problem-solving, failure, and redirection are part of such struggle. Third, the book underscores the power of writing as a vehicle for making sense of the world, for oneself and others. Fox demonstrated that in his correspondence and articles, and Hall does so in his approach. His research is impressive, and he excels in framing a quote to integrate it into an argument.- Pacific Historical Review
Fox has not been given his appropriate due. This book about an activist willing to change with the times is exactly what was missing from the historical record.- Candace Falk, author of Love, Anarchy, and Emma Goldman and editor/director of the Emma Goldman Papers
Superb. Hall's study of Fox contributes a great deal by tracing the working-class rootedness of anarchism and the importance of anarchism in the history of American labor.- Aaron Goings, author of The Port of Missing Men: Billy Gohl, Labor, and Brutal Times in the Pacific Northwest
Jay Fox bore witness to the most consequential labor events of his era. This long-needed study of his life sheds light on anarchist thought, the radical press, and labor organizing during a tumultuous time.- Heather Mayer, author of Beyond the Rebel Girl: Women and the Industrial Workers of the World in the Pacific Northwest, 1905-1924
Greg Hall’s wonderful and meticulously researched book restores this forgotten anarchist to his rightful place at the center of American radical history.- Kenyon Zimmer, author of Immigrants against the State: Yiddish and Italian Anarchism in America