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Mother Jones cover

Mother Jones
Judith P. Josephson

Lerner Publications, 1997

Now available as an ebook from Amazon. (2015), Mother Jones: Fierce Fighter for Workers' Rights (eFrog Press, A Spotlight Biography) Kindle Edition.

"I was born in revolution," Mary Harris Jones often said. As a child in Ireland in the 1830s, she witnessed deadly clashes between British soldiers and peasant farmers, including her own family. Later, after immigrating to the United States, she watched helplessly as her husband and four children died of yellow fever. Out of these sorrows, a fierce compassion for the downtrodden grew in her.

She took up the cause of American workers, adopting them as her family. Workers in coal mines, textile mills, and other industries often labored for long hours under dangerous conditions for wages that could barely sustain them. For sixty years, Mother Jones crisscrossed the nation, urging men, women, and child workers to fight for their rights through labor unions. Her mission took her from the poorest coal miner's shack to the halls of Congress, from the ragged children of the textile mills to presents of the United States.

In this book, author Judith Josephson portrays the feisty spirit and unyielding determination of one of American labor's most unforgettable champions.

Purchase this book online at

For more information, also read my eFrog Press blog article.

Mother Jones Marches On!

A chapter of my Mother Jones book, "The March of the Mill Children," is included in an eighth grade reading textbook: Glencoe Literature: Reading with Purpose, Course 3, as well as in online materials published by

First Prize by Three Six Graders

In 2006, three sixth grade California students—Brionna, Gabriel, and Gianni—won first prize in their division for their Mother Jones project during a countywide History Day. They also were runners-up for the Sweepstakes for "Best in Show," which included all ages. They did research, did interviews, played a recording of Mother's Jones's voice at age 100 and a song about her called "The Agitator," written by Ronnie Gilbert and Holly Near, and made a SUPER display. They love history and hope to make it the national championship one day. See the Contest Winners Mother Jones project.

Take a Sneak Peek inside this book.

School Library Journal, December, 1997: Mother Jones listed as one of top sixty SLJ's Best Books '97, out of 3600 books reviewed in 1997.


Mother Jones: Fierce Fighter for Workers' Rights

"I read this book two chapters per night with my children, and they loved it! They were particularly moved by the chapter "The March of the Mill Children."

"My son needed a book for his biography book report and I hoped he would enjoy the bio of Mother Jones, one of my heroes. He has plowed through the book and loved her story. She reminded him of his grandmother."

"Mother Jones was a fascinating figure even before her life as a labor organizer began . . . Josephson brings this remarkable woman to life through well-documented sources and photographs of Jones and the environs in which she worked . . . An accessible, genuine volume on a worthy figure in our history."

— School Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

". . . (Josephson) introduces readers to a brave woman who deserves attention and to important topics, including the harsh conditions child workers endured."

— Children's Literature

"Readers will be caught by the fierce personality of this brave woman, so ahead of her time, who dared to stand up to presidents and financiers for the rights of ordinary people . . . Josephson draws a lot on Mother Jones's candid autobiography, as well as on accounts by labor historians. The accounts are unobtrusively documented at the back of the book"

— Booklist

"Josephson draws on Mother Jones's letters, speeches, and autobiography (among other sources) to quote her, complete with her own misspellings, her own hasty punctuation-and the sometimes peppery words she herself chose in this spirited portrait of the Miners' Angel. The result is a biography as deliberate, focused, and accessible as its subject. Archival photos are included. Bibliography, index."

— The Horn Book Guide

"The book . . . follows the life of Mary Harris Jones from her birth to a poor farm family in Cork, Ireland, through her life-changing experiences in the coal mines and textile mills of the U.S. to her death at age 100 in 1930. The text, suitable for grades six and above, is accompanied by dozens of historic photos that help bring to life the suffering of those Mother Jones championed."

— Los Angeles Times

"At one time considered "the most dangerous woman in America," Mother Jones was influential in organizing workers in the early years of labor unions. . . . This is a well-researched and well-documented biography with clear b/w photos and facsimiles, source notes, and a biography of adult titles . . . readers will be rewarded with a clear picture of working conditions in the early 20th century and of a courageous woman whose efforts to change them were not always successful."


" . . . This well-researched biography is an excellent reference for teachers and an interesting novel for people interested in historical women leaders. Teenage to adult readers will admire Mary Harris Jones' courage and leadership."

— Signal Journal

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