Archive ID: 2002-037-1

Memorial Day Massacre scrapbook of Gerry Jolly Borozan

Date Created: 1937-1997

Created By: Geraldine Borozan

Donor: Geraldine Borozan

Media Type: Scrapbook/Album/Diary

Language: English


Gerry Jolly Borozan created this scrapbook soon after her 19th birthday when she was a witness to what became known as the Memorial Day Massacre of 1937. Gerry lived with her family in a house next to Republic Steel on the East Side. During the Great Depression, the New Deal’s Wagner Act of 1935 gave workers the right to organize independent unions. U.S. Steel agreed to recognize a union during the CIO organizing movement that swept the country in 1936-7. Some steel companies, however, including Republic, refused to do so, leading to the Little Steel Strike of 1937. During this nation-wide strike, Republic steelworkers on the East Side were beaten by police as they tried to set up picket lines. Steelworkers then called for a mass rally of supporters on Memorial Day to support their legal right to picket and form a union. Chicago city police, armed by and under the influence of Republic Steel and its rabidly anti-union President Tom Girdler, fired on peaceful steelworkers and their supporters. Ten were killed and nearly 90 wounded. Gerry was a witness to these events. Her older brother Jim and fiancé Steve Borozan, both steelworkers at Republic, participated as strikers. She herself worked in the soup kitchen at strike headquarters in a former tavern known as Sam’s Place. In the days after the event, Gerry clipped newspaper articles and pasted them into her scrapbook. While a few newspapers supported the strikers, others opposed them. Gerry, however, wrote her own commentary as well as the names of people she knew on the newspaper clippings. The Memorial Day Massacre – widely known because of newsreel footage shot of the event – became a defining event in U.S. labor history. In the ensuing decades, Gerry continued to show her scrapbook at various Memorial Day Massacre commemorations. She donated it to the Museum in 2002.

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Historic Events   Local 1033 (Republic)   Memorial Day Massacre   Mills   Republic   Steel Industry   Strikes   Unions   1920-1939 (Depression Era)   East Side   Other/Unknown   Scrapbook/Album/Diary   2002-037   Books   Labor   LTV Steel   Picketing   Police   Protests   Republic Steel   Steelworkers   Workers  

This item appears in:

The Memorial Day Massacre

A story told through Museum objects saved by Southeast Chicago residents

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