Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)




Cindy Hahamovitch

Committee Member

Leisa Myer

Committee Member

Guillaume Aubert


Race, Sexuality, and Radicalism in the Piney Woods: The Industrial Workers of the World and The Brotherhood of Timber Workers, 1910-1916. The Brotherhood of Timber Workers (BTW) was an interracial labor organization in the Jim Crow South during the years 1910-1916. The BTW grew out of earlier populist, socialist, and labor organizing in the region and presented a major challenge to the power structure of the area. Southern timber companies banded together to create a virtual military occupation of the area and waged a bitter struggle against the BTW utilizing violence, Jim Crow, and collusion with the state. This struggle was marked by lockouts, a massive espionage apparatus, assassination attempts, and numerous assaults including a shooting incident that left four dead and dozens wounded. Missing from much of the analysis of the Brotherhood is a discussion of why it affiliated with the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) in 1912. This article demonstrates that contrary to the historiography of both unions, the BTW should be viewed as an IWW organizing campaign. The Brotherhood was associated with the IWW from its inception and its affiliation represented a legitimate effort on the part of the IWW to confront racial segregation and organize the workers of the Deep South in direct opposition to Jim Crow. Over one hundred years have passed since the BTW was organized in the piney woods of western Louisiana and eastern Texas, and the racial politics of the union are still poorly understood. This article calls into question whether segregation was uniformly employed by the union and its locals before affiliating with IWW in 1912 and demonstrates that the BTW’s racial policies and actions changed over time to become more inclusive, although they were still flawed. Furthermore, this work will show that gender and sexuality were components of the same hierarchical power structure that drove the engine of Jim Crow. The racial components of this campaign cannot be comprehended outside of an understanding of how gender and sexual relations of power or hierarchies operated in the subjugation of the workforce. In addition to secondary analyses, this essay utilizes primary documents from multiple archives, newspapers, and court records.



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