This place, Southeast Kansas, with its proud ethnic mix and political tumult, was built on a rich intense history involving coal mining. This corner of the state was sometimes called the "Little Balkans" because of the variety of nationalities - French, Swede, British, Italian, German and Eastern European - who settled here to work in area coalmines.
To unearth the history of Southeast Kansas, one needs only to mine the myriad of stories from the colorful past of this region. One stirring story is that of the women who participated in a mass march in December 1921 in which two to six thousand wives, daughters, mothers, sisters, and sweethearts of striking miners marched in protest against unfair labor practices and laws across the coalfields of Southeast Kansas. They considered their cause one of conserving democratic values rather than one of revolt.
The march made headlines across the state and the nation. This large-scale involvement of women, christened the "Amazon Army" by the New York Times, set this demonstration apart from the labor unrest that often disturbed the area.
The women's actions echoed feelings of solidarity with male members of the mining community and linked the miners struggle to American ideals of justice and equality, which ultimately led to national social reform. This spirited act linked men and women together in one of the most dynamic pages in the history of American labor.