Search Results for 'stickerette'

Adding images of I.W.W. ”stickerettes” to Wikipedia pages

Today is Wikipedia’s 20th anniversary, so it’s a good time to share some of my recent Wikipedia activities. For the past couple of years, I’ve been adding images of I.W.W. “stickerettes” to various Wikipedia pages. The stickerettes, which were published before 1925, are in the public domain, so copyright is not an issue.

Here is how I add images to Wikipedia:

You will first need to create an account or log into an existing account on Wikimedia Commons at

After logging in, click on either the “Upload file” under “Participate” on the left – or on the blue “Upload” button on the upper right.

Read through page 1 of the Upload Wizard called “Learn” to determine if you can upload your image(s). You can only upload images that you created yourself or images that are freely licensed. According to the Upload Wizard, there are two main exceptions:

  • “You can upload someone else’s work if the author granted permission for anyone to use, copy, modify, and sell it;” or
  • “You can upload your photographs [image files] of old art, statues, and buildings (usually over 150 years old).”

For more on determining copyright, visit, which states that “all works published in the United States before 1925 are in the public domain.”

After reading through the “Learn” page, click on “Next” at the bottom right and go to “Select media files to share.” You can upload one file or multiple files at the same time.

Click on “Next” and go to the “Release rights” page:

  • Click on “These files are not my work.”
  • Then list Source and Author(s). In this case, I added “Bisbee Deportation Legal Papers and Exhibits (AZ 144). Special Collections, University of Arizona Libraries,” which is the correct and complete credit line for this collection.
  • Leave the next two Creative Commons section blank. In the Copyright section, click on “First published in the United States before 1925.” Leave the remaining sections blank.

On the” Describe” page:

  • Under “Caption,” use: I.W.W. “stickerettes” from Bisbee Deportation Legal Papers and Exhibits (AZ 144). Special Collections, University of Arizona Libraries.
  • Under “Description,” use: I.W.W. “stickerettes” were used as evidence through the deposition of William A. Cahill in the legal suit of Michael Simmons vs. the El Paso and Southern Railroad Company et al.
  • List “1919” as the date the work was created or first published (the date of the Simmons v EP&SW case).

On the “Add data” page:

  • Add “sticker.”

On the “Use” page, click on “Upload.”

This past weekend, I added six of the seven image files of 15 stickerettes from the Bisbee Deportation Legal Papers and Exhibits (AZ 144). Special Collections, University of Arizona Libraries to Wikimedia Commons (see earlier post about the Bisbee stickerettes). Now I need to track down which Wikipedia pages to which I can add them…. Stay tuned.

Additional notes:

The Bisbee Deportation Legal Papers and Exhibits in the University of Arizona Libraries’ Special Collections date to 1917-1919, so the stickerettes are considered in the public domain. The Arizona Archives Online has more information about the collection and its contents here.

Confirmed date for early I.W.W. “stickerettes”

Some time ago, I learned about I.W.W. “stickerettes” that are in the University of Arizona’s Special Collections as part of the Bisbee Deportation Legal Papers and Exhibits AZ 114. I had taken screen shots of them to do additional research, but the website they were found on is now no longer active. What is useful, however, is that I can now identify the original 15 designs that were the earliest I.W.W political stickers in the United States (women’s suffrage stickers and stamps were also produced at this time). I’m pretty sure I.W.W leader and commercial artist Ralph Chaplin designed most if not all of these stickerettes. The advertisement below is from the I.W.W. journal called Solidarity dating to April 7, 1917.

Below are the I.W.W. stickerettes that were used as evidence pertaining to the “suit of Michael Simmons vs. the El Paso and Southwestern Railroad Company et al. in the Superior Court of Cochise County” related to the Bisbee Deportation in 1917.

Exhibit 4-7
Exhibit 8-12
Exhibit 13-17
Exhibit 155, 160, 164, 166
Exhibit 167-171
Exhibit 172-176
Exhibit 177-178

Here then, for the record, are the 15 designs dating to 1917. They are all included in my collection.

I.W.W. “stickerettes” bibliography

Compiled by Catherine Tedford with assistance

from McKael Barnes, SLU Class of 2020

Industrial Workers of the World. I.W.W. SongsSongs of the Workers: On the Road, in the Jungles and in the Shops – Joe Hill Memorial Edition (Tenth Edition). United States, I.W.W. Publishing Bureau, 1917.

Abbott, Lyman, Ernest Hamlin Abbott, and Hamilton Wright Mabie, eds. “The I.W.W. on Trial: Special Correspondence.” The Outlook, Vol. 119. United States, Outlook Publishing Company, 1918. 448-450. Print.[1]

The Outlook, July 6, 1918, page 449.

Botkin, Jane Little. Frank Little and the IWW: The Blood That Stained an American Family. University of Oklahoma Press, 2017.

Bubka, Tony. “Time to Organize! The IWW Stickeretts [sic],” American West 5, no. 1. January 1968: 21-22, 25-26, 73. Print.

Chaplin, Ralph. Wobbly, the Rough and Tumble Story of an American Radical. Da Capo Press, 1972. 194-195, 199-200, 205-207, 219. Print.

Clymer, Jeffory A. America’s Culture of Terrorism: Violence, Capitalism, and the Written Word. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2004. 193-199. Print.

Clyne, Charles F. The I.W.W. Indictments. International Socialist Review: A Monthly Journal of International Socialist Thought. United States, 1917. 276. Print.

Dinnerstein, Leonard, and Kenneth T. Jackson. American Vistas: 1877 to the Present. Oxford University Press, 1987, 129. Print.

Hall, Greg. Harvest Wobblies: The Industrial Workers of the World and Agricultural Laborers in the American West, 1905-1930. Corvallis: Oregon State University Press, 2001. 72-74, 93, 103-104, 110. Print.[2]

Haywood, William D. The Autobiography of Big Bill Haywood. 1929. 282. Print.

Industrial Workers of the World. Proceedings of the Tenth Convention Held at Chicago, IL, November 20 to December 1, 1916. 1917.[3]

Industrial Workers of the World. I.W.W. SongsSongs of the Workers: On the Road, in the Jungles and in the Shops – Joe Hill Memorial Edition (Ninth Edition). United States, I.W.W. Publishing Bureau, March 1916. Print.[4][5]

Industrial Workers of the World. I.W.W. SongsSongs of the Workers: On the Road, in the Jungles and in the Shops – Joe Hill Memorial Edition (Tenth Edition). United States, I.W.W. Publishing Bureau, 1917. 65. Print.[6][7]

Kornbluh, Joyce L. Rebel Voices: An IWW Anthology. University of Michigan Press, 1964. 59. Print.

McGovern, John F. “Sabotage Wanton Destruction of Property, Nothing More.” Minneapolis Star Tribune 14 Dec. 1919: 4. Web.

Miles, Dione, and Wayne State University. Something in Common: an IWW Bibliography. Wayne State University Press, 1986, 14. Print.

Myers, Richard. Slaughter in Serene: The Columbine Coal Strike Reader. United States, Bread and Roses Workers’ Cultural Center, 2005. 28. Print.

Prahl, Michael Torrance. “The federal government and the Industrial Workers of the World, 1917-1918: An attempt to crush a labor union.” University of Northern Iowa UNI ScholarWorks, 1990. 79, 86, 157-159. Web.

Rosemont, Franklin, and Roediger, David R. Haymarket Scrapbook. C.H. Kerr Publishing Company, 1986, 195. Print.[8]

Rosemont, Franklin. Joe Hill: The IWW & the Making of a Revolutionary Workingclass Counterculture. United States, C.H. Kerr Pub., 2003. 99. Print.

Salerno, Salvatore. Red November, Black November: Culture and Community in the Industrial Workers of the World. SUNY Press, 1989, pp. 178.

Smith, Walker C., et al. Direct Action & Sabotage: Three Classic IWW Pamphlets from the 1910s. United States, PM Press, 2014. 19-20. Print.

Stauffer, John, and Benjamin Soskis. “Solidarity Forever.” The Battle Hymn of the Republic: A Biography of the Song That Marches On. Oxford University Press, 2013. 189, 340.[9]

Tedford, Catherine. “Silent Agitators: Early Stickerettes from the Industrial Workers of the World.” Signal: A Journal of International Political Graphics & Culture 06 (2018):

Tyler, Robert L. Rebels of the Woods: The I. W. W. in the Pacific Northwest. University of Oregon Books, 1967, pp. 92.

Van Wienen, Mark W. “The New Society within the Shell of the Old: Wobbly Parody Poetical and Political.” Partisans and Poets: The Political Work of American Poetry in the Great War. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1997. 95-102. Print.[10]

Weisberger, Bernard A. “Here Come the Wobblies.” American Heritage 18, no. 4 (June 1967): 30-35. Print.

Whalan, Mark. American Culture in the 1910s. Edinburgh University Press, 2010. 172-173. Print.

[1] Great illustration of three stickerettes for Wikipedia.

[2] Page 72 dates stickers to 1912.

[3] Full page ad for STICKERETTES for Wikipedia.

[4] Full page ad of man in clogs for Wikipedia.

[5] Also available at

[6] Full page ad of “The Scissorbill’s Prayer” for Wikipedia.

[7] The University of Washington Libraries digitized Katie Phar’s signed I.W.W. Songs (Ca. 1917) with stickers mentioned on page 64.

[8] Chaplin cartoon from Cook County Jail but not available in Google Books.

[9] Dates first mention of stickerettes dating to 1915, with “in April 1917, “four million sold in less than a week” following America’s entry in WWI.

[10] Dates first stickerettes to November 20, 1915 issue of Solidarity.

Ten new “stickerettes”!

I have acquired ten new I.W.W. stickerettes! They came from a packet with text on the cover that reads “Stickerettes – Silent Agitators – Fifteen Different Designs – Black And Red – Stick ’Um Up!” There is also an image of a black sab cat in a wooden shoe that was likely designed by or borrowed from Ralph Chaplin, whom I’ve written about before. Sorry for the poor screen shot of the envelope; it’s the best I could get.

Screen Shot 2016-06-26 at 6.40.55 PM

I can confirm the dates of these stickerettes, too. The I.W.W. headquarters were located at 1001 West Madison Street in Chicago, the address listed on the envelope, from July 1917 to March 1925.


You can see the new stickerettes on my Flickr site here (scroll down to the bottom). I now have 41 stickerettes in my collection; a few of them are duplicate designs with one printed in black or red and the other printed in both black and red.



The stickerette “Why Be A Soldier? Be A Man, Join The I.W.W. And Fight On The Job For Yourself And Your Class.” is one that undoubtedly got the I.W.W. and union members in trouble with the U.S. government. On September 5, 1917, federal agents raided I.W.W. offices across the country, and 100 union leaders and members were later arrested and charged with sedition under the newly created Espionage Act of 1917 that was enacted a few months beforehand (along with another charge of violating postal laws by mailing out stickerettes and other printed matter).



Dates Confirmed for Early I.W.W. Stickerettes

I can finally confirm dates of some of the earliest I.W.W. stickers in my collection. The August 31, 1918, edition of The Literary Digest ran an article called “Branding the I.W.W.” that features three stickers with the caption, “Typical I.W.W. Propaganda—Stickers Circulated in the Northwest.”


Unfortunately, the article doesn’t say anything about the stickers themselves, but it describes the conviction of 100 I.W.W. members for treason soon after the beginning of World War I and the subsequent passage of the U.S. Espionage Act. The artist and poet Ralph Chaplin, whom I’ve written about in previous posts and for the People’s History Archive, was one of those union members arrested and convicted, and I imagine he created these early stickers, known at the time as “stickerettes” or “silent agitators.”



Other articles in this edition include “Grenades to Suit Everybody,” Germany’s Gigantic War Profits,” and “Why Germany Destroys Art.”


Three new “stickerettes”

Three new Industrial Workers of the World “stickerettes” for the Street Art Graphics digital archive!


The text reads, “I.W.W. — For More of the Good Things in Life — Organize — One Big Union”


This one reads, “Join the I.W.W. — We Know He Won’t Join — But How About You?”


And this one reads, “One Big Union — The Key to Industrial Peace — OBU — Join the I.W.W.”

(I add the text here in case people are doing keyword searches.)  For more on “stickerettes,” see my previous posts:

I.W.W. “stickerettes”

“Stickerettes at NYU’s Tamiment Library

More on I.W.W. “stickerettes”

“Stickerette” ad in 1917 I.W.W. Solidarity newspaper

Two new “stickerettes”

Two new “stickerettes”

I’ve acquired two new unused stickerettes for my collection and sticker exhibition.  The smaller stickerette is a real favorite.  NYU has one, too.  It measures 3 1/4 x 2 3/8 inches, and the text reads: “The capitalist’s [heart] is in his pocketbook, And he uses the [club] Over you so he can wear [diamonds].  By organizing right, we can give him a [spade] With which to earn an honest living.”


The second stickerette measures 6 x 6 inches and is the largest and rarest I’ve ever come across.  It was issued by the S.F. (San Francisco) Trades Union Promotional League in 1927, and the text reads “Labor Unionism, Labor Omnia Vincit.  The World’s Greatest Promoter of Human Justice.  Let us make it ever greater.  Public Schools.  Right of the Ballot.  Workers Compensation Legislation.  Health and Safety Legislation.  Child Labor Laws.  Eight Hour Day.”


Both stickerettes are printed on a very lightweight cream paper with a gummed backing.  I would love to find a photograph of stickerettes being used back in the day!

“Stickerette” ad in 1917 I.W.W. Solidarity newspaper

This is the first image I’ve ever seen of someone putting up stickers.  I found it in two issues of an I.W.W. newspaper called Solidarity published in Cleveland on September 9 and 16, 1917.  Stickerettes were advertised in Solidarity between at least June 24, 1916, and August 25, 1917, though I’ve seen a reference that they might have been advertised as early as November 20, 1915.  In 1916, one could buy stickerettes in packages – 110 per package cost 15 cents, or a box of 1,100 cost $1.00.


I’ve been trying to find photographs of stickerettes put up on buildings or other surfaces, too, but no luck yet.

More on I.W.W. “stickerettes”

I’ve had the luxury of spending several hours during the last few days doing research on the I.W.W. stickerettes that I posted about previously on June 3, 2012 and July 28, 2012.  I’ve decided that I need to include some historical background information about stickerettes in my sticker book, which I am tentatively calling Takin’ it to the Streets and Stickin’ it to the Man: Contemporary Sticker Art as Cultural Expression and Political Protest.  It’s a terribly long title.  The other title I’ve been thinking of lately, however, is simply Paper Bullets.  Short and sweet!


The commercial artist Ralph Chaplin (1887-1961) was probably the first person to have produced stickerettes during 1915-1916, according to Mark van Wienen in Partisans and Poets: The Political Work of American Poetry in the Great War.  A million stickerettes were printed and distributed in early 1917, with another three million to be printed by May Day that year and 65,000 stickerettes in other foreign languages.  Van Wienen writes, “Stickerette mania grew so intense that a poem in [the I.W.W. weekly] Solidarity, ‘Stick ‘Em Up,’ dubbed May Day ‘Stickerette Day’.”

Now all the bosses and their stools will think they’re out of luck, To see the spots of black and red where Stickerettes are stuck; And after they have scratched them off and shook their fists and swore, They’ll turn around to find again another dozen more.

Upon the back of every truck, on packages and cards, Upon the boats and in the mines and in the railroad yards, From Maine to California and even further yet, No matter where you look you’ll see a little Stickerette!

By September of 1917, however, Chaplin and others in the I.W.W. were arrested under the U.S. Espionage Act on charges of sedition.  The Espionage Act was passed just after the United States entered World War I.  The New York Tribune ran an article, “I.W.W. Beaten in Two Attempts to Rule Out Evidence: Judge Permits Introduction of Pamphlets to Prove Sabotage” (May 7, 1918, p. 7), which described:

William Cahill, member of a job printing establishment in Chicago, testified that he had printed more than 1,500,000 stickerettes for the I.W.W.  These were designed by Ralph Chaplin, one of the defendents, whose pen name is “Bingo.”  Many of them advocated sabotage.”

Stickerettes are also mentioned in an essay entitled “Here Come the Wobblies!” by Bernard A. Weisberger for the American Heritage (1967, Volume 18, Issue 4), where he paints a lively picture:

The I.W.W. reached [the migrant worker] where he lived: in the hobo “jungles” outside the rail junction points, where he boiled stew in empty tin cans, slept on the ground come wind, come weather, and waited to hop a freight bound in any direction where jobs were rumored to be.  The Wobblies sent in full-time organizers, dressed in the same caps and windbreakers, but with pockets full of red membership cards, dues books and stamps, subscription blanks, song sheets, pamphlets.  These job delegates signed up their men around the campfires or in the boxcars (“side-door Pullmans” the migrants called them), mailed the money to headquarters, and then followed their recruits to the woods, or to the tents in the open fields where the harvest stiffs unrolled their bindles after twelve hours of work in hundred degree heat without water, shade, or toilets.  But there were some whom the organizers could not reach, and the I.W.W. sent them messages in the form of “stickerettes.”  These “silent agitators” were illustrated slogans on label-sized pieces of gummed paper, many of them drawn by Ralph Chaplin.  They sold for as little as a dollar a thousand, and Chaplin believed that in a few weeks a good “Wob” on the road could plaster them on “every son-of-a-bitch of a boxcar, water tank, pick handle and pitchfork” within a radius of hundreds of miles.


The stickers were simple and caught the eye.  “What Time Is It? Time to Organize!” shouted a clock.  “Solidarity Takes the Whole Works,” explained a Bunyan-sized workingman with an armload of trains and factories.  The three stars of the One Big Union (Organization, Education, Emancipation) winked bright red over a black and yellow earth.  A “scissorbill”—a workingman without class loyalty—knelt on bony knees and snuffled to the sky, “Now I get me up to work, I pray the Lord I may not shirk.”  But the most fateful stickers to appear between 1915 and 1917, as the nation moved toward war, were those that urged: “SLOW DOWN. The hours are long, the pay is small, so take your time and buck ’em all;” and those on which appeared two portentous symbols: the wooden shoe of sabotage, and the black cat, which, as everybody knew, meant trouble.

The stickerettes I’ve included here are less agitational than most others, but they’re what I’ve got, so enjoy!  The only other stickerette in my collection is all text – in Hungarian.


Stickerettes at NYU Tamiment Library

The Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives at NYU’s Tamiment Library contains close to 30 original stickerettes, i.e., the “silent agitators” I wrote about in my previous post.  I went down to NYC last week to see them in person and had no idea there would be so many different designs.  From what I’ve been reading, some were used as early as the 1910s, while a later one referred to the fighting in Viet Nam (sic).  I also saw a catalogue for an exhibition entitled “Wobbly” 80 Years of Rebel Art that was held at the Labor Archives and Research Center in San Francisco in 1987, so I ordered a copy of my own from AbeBooks.  The catalogue identifies some of the artists who made these stickers (William Henkelman, for example, a sign painter by profession), though most of the creators weren’t artists at all (C.E. Setzer a.k.a. “CES” or “X13” was a construction worker on the Los Angeles aqueduct).  According to the catalogue, “The IWW pioneered the use of these little pieces of gummed paper.  Over the years countless different ones in a variety of sizes were produced in quantities that must total in the millions.  Old and new, they are still in use by the IWW as a simple, succinct method to spread ideas or just to generally raise the consciousness of the passerby.”

I get asked all the time if it’s right or wrong to take stickers off the streets, but seeing the stickerettes at NYU confirmed my dedication to building a sticker archive.  The stickers in my collection are just not available anymore, and some day, I’ll donate the collection to an institution for future research and scholarship.

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Flickr Photos

October 2021