Twentieth Century Radicalism in Minnesota Oral History Project: Interview with Patrick McMillen
Part 1


Part 2


Description BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION: Patrick McMillen was born in Ireland in 1895, and came to the U.S. when he was a boy. His father laid track for the Great Northern Railroad Company, working out of St. Paul, Duluth, Fargo, and Grand Forks. When he was thirteen, Pat began to work alongside his father, but soon grew tired of that and ran away. He traveled to Seattle, where he talked his way into a job as a galley boy on a cargo ship. The rest of his working life was spent at sea. From 1916 to 1920, and again during the Second World War, Mr. McMillen served in the U.S. Navy; during peacetime he sailed on merchant ships as a cook, from both the East and West Coasts. After the Second World War, he sailed on the Great Lakes, with Detroit as his home port. In 1956 he settled in Duluth and retired shortly thereafter. Mr. McMillen joined the Industrial Workers of the World on his first voyage, and remained a member for the rest of his life. He also joined the International Seaman's Union, a conservative American Federation of Labor union. In the ISU he was part of a Wobbly radical caucus of sorts until 1937, when he and most of the membership left as a result of the ISU's poor performance in the 1936 seamen's strike. Unlike the majority of ISU members, though, Mr. McMillen stayed with the West coast Marine Cooks and Stewards Local, which eventually affiliated with the Congress of Industrial Organizations, instead of joining the National Maritime Union of the CIO. When the Marine Cooks and Stewards were expelled from the CIO in the late 1940s for their communist sympathies, (an event which led to the demise of the union), Mr. McMillen apparently joined the International Longshoremen's Association. This union dominated the Great Lakes, where he was then sailing. At the time of the interview, Mr. McMillen was living in Duluth. He never married. SUBJECTS DISCUSSED: Life onboard a merchant ship, 1910s. Obtaining U.S. citizenship. Seaman's strike of 1946. Opinions of the International Seaman's Union and Sailor's Union of the Pacific, 1930s. Direct action strategy of the Industrial Workers of the World. Waterfront strike in Duluth, 1911. Opinions of Hubert Humphrey and the Democratic Farmer-Labor Party. James J. Hill's recruitment of Irish immigrants as laborers, early 1900s. Labor-management relations on the Great Northern Railroad, early 1900s. Opinions of the International Longshoremen's Association, 1950s and 1960s. Memories of ILA activity in Duluth, 1950s. Service in the navy during World War I. IWW role and influence in the larger seafarers' unions, 1920s-1940s; attitudes towards signing labor contracts; relations with the CIO. Opinions of labor unions in 1988. Opinions of the IWW in 1988. COMMENTS ON INTERVIEW: This interview gives a colorful impression of a seaman and his life. It is sketchy on details and events, and has little information about Minnesota, however.
Quantity 1 hour sound cassette
19 pages transcript
Format Content Category: sound recordings
Content Category: text
Measurements 00:54:32 running time
Creation Interviewee: McMillen, Patrick J.
Interviewer: Blin, Richard
Interviewer: Hyvarinen, Virginia - Duluth Public Library
Interviewer: Ross, Carl E.
Made in Duluth, Saint Louis County, Minnesota, United States
Subjects Made in Duluth, Saint Louis County, Minnesota, United States
Dates Creation: 05/12/1988
Holding Type Oral History - Interview
Identifiers OH 30
Accession Number AV1990.228.29
More Info MHS Library Catalog
Related Collections Oral History - Project, MHS Collection, project: 'Twentieth Century Radicalism in Minnesota Oral History Project'

Add Comment Here:

Name: (required)

E-mail: (required)


I agree to the Terms of Use (required)

If you are a person leave these fields blank.