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Little Red Songbook

Little Red Songbook

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Since the founding of the Industrial Workers of the World
Industrial Workers of the World
The Industrial Workers of the World is an international union. At its peak in 1923, the organization claimed some 100,000 members in good standing, and could marshal the support of perhaps 300,000 workers. Its membership declined dramatically after a 1924 split brought on by internal conflict...

, also known as the IWW, songs have played a big part in spreading the message of the One Big Union. The songs are preserved in the Little Red Songbook.


The Little Red Songbook was first published by a committee of Spokane, Washington
Spokane, Washington
Spokane is a city located in the Northwestern United States in the state of Washington. It is the largest city of Spokane County of which it is also the county seat, and the metropolitan center of the Inland Northwest region...

 locals in 1909, (It was originally called Songs of the Workers, on the Road, in the Jungles, and in the Shops—Songs to Fan the Flames of Discontent.) It includes songs written by Joe Hill
Joe Hill
Joe Hill, born Joel Emmanuel Hägglund in Gävle , and also known as Joseph Hillström was a Swedish-American labor activist, songwriter, and member of the Industrial Workers of the World...

, Ralph Chaplin
Ralph Chaplin
Ralph Hosea Chaplin was an American writer, artist and labor activist. At the age of seven, he saw a worker shot dead during the Pullman strike in Chicago, Illinois. He had moved with his family from Ames, Kansas to Chicago in 1893...

, T-Bone Slim
T-Bone Slim
Matti Valentinpoika Huhta , better known by his pen name T-Bone Slim, was a humourist, poet, songwriter, hobo and labor activist in the Industrial Workers of the World....

, and others. The early editions contain many of the labor songs that are still famous, such as "The Red Flag
The Red Flag
The Red Flag is a protest song associated with left-wing politics, in particular with socialism. It is the semi-official anthem of the British Labour Party, sung at the end of conference. It is the official anthem of the Irish Labour Party and sung at the close of national conference.-History:The...

," "The Internationale
The Internationale
The Internationale is a famous socialist, communist, social-democratic and anarchist anthem.The Internationale became the anthem of international socialism, and gained particular fame under the Soviet Union from 1922 to 1944, when it was that communist state's de facto central anthem...

," and "Solidarity Forever
Solidarity Forever
"Solidarity Forever", written by Ralph Chaplin in 1915, is perhaps the most famous union anthem. It is sung to the tune of "John Brown's Body" and is inspired by "The Battle Hymn of the Republic". Although it was written as a song for the Industrial Workers of the World , other union movements,...

." Thirty-six editions were published between 1909 and 1995.

An edition commemorating the centennial of the IWW's founding in 1905 was published in 2005. The latest edition of the Little Red Songbook was printed in 2010.

The 190 different songs included in the Little Red Songbook between 1909 and 1973 are collected and annotated in The Big Red Songbook
The Big Red Songbook
The Big Red Songbook is a collection of Wobbly songs compiled by folklorist Archie Green....

, edited by Archie Green
Archie Green
Archie Green was a folklorist specializing in laborlore and American folk music. Devoted to understanding vernacular culture, he gathered and commented upon the speech, stories, songs, emblems, rituals, art, artifacts, memorials, and landmarks which constitute laborlore...

, David Roediger
David Roediger
David R. Roediger is a well-established professor of history at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign . His research interests include the construction of racial identity, class structures, labor studies, and the history of American radicalism...

, and Franklin Rosemont
Franklin Rosemont
Franklin Rosemont was a poet, artist, historian, street speaker, and co-founder of the Chicago Surrealist Group...

and published in 2007.

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