Press Releases

2019 Press Releases

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Battle of Homestead Foundation 2019 Events Will Focus on Important Labor History Centenary

Historic Steel Strike and Murder of Organizer Fannie Sellins Were Landmark 1919 Events

For Immediate Release: April 4, 2019
Contact: John Haer, (412) 478-5907,

Pittsburgh, PA ― The Battle of Homestead Foundation’s events series this year will examine the importance of landmark labor history events that occurred 100 years ago and their lasting relevance for today. A launch event in April will provide context for the turbulent year that was 1919, which saw labor and class strife, with a massive steel strike and the murder of labor organizer Fannie Sellins in Natrona Heights just before the strike began.

“The year 1919 saw greatly important events in US labor history,” BHF President John Haer said. “Certainly, in Western Pennsylvania none more so than the steel strike and the brutal murder of Fannie Sellins, who instantly became a martyr to the cause.”

BHF will begin its events season with “1919: Bridges from History” on April 25, a discussion featuring historians Eric Leif DavinCharles McCollesterJacqueline Cavalier, and Howard Scott, who will employ their extensive research and experience to spotlight the turbulent post-war era of 1919 USA. Among the many lasting developments of the time, they will touch on the Suffragette movement; immigrants’ struggle for labor and civil rights; the Great Migration North of Black Americans;  wartime unions; strikes; and radicalism and resistance to capitalism. (Thursday, April 25 @ 7:00 pm, the Historic Pump House, 880 East Waterfront Drive Munhall, PA 15120. FREE.)

“With the armistice ending the First World War, signed November 11, 1918, manufacturing demand fell and unemployment swelled. Social pressures already exacerbated by wartime labor practices, inflation and postwar corporate repression of unions, only deepened as economic activity slowed,” historian and BHF board member Charlie McCollester writes at the BHF website. These and other pivotal events set the stage for the labor unrest that would erupt toward fall.

Events to mark the assassination of Fannie Sellins are being organized around the centennial in August. Other events this season will examine current struggles of immigrants in the Trump era, labor and environment coalitions, the Pittsburgh Irish Presbyterian community, and cultural events featuring music and theater (including the April 27 one-woman show, “Mrs. Shakespeare: Will’s First and Last Love,” written, compiled and performed by Yvonne Hudson, 2:00 pm at the Historic Pump House, 880 East Waterfront Drive Munhall, PA 15120, free admission).

BHF is committed to preserving the history of the Battle of Homestead and to educating the public about its legacies. BHF has successfully preserved the Historic Pump House building, which has become a venue for educational and community events, and led efforts to commemorate the Battle with plaques describing the event and honoring the dead. BHF has been involved in establishing historic markers at sites related to many historic events and persons in Western Pennsylvania.

For more information:

Twitter: @HomesteadFdn.