Featuring an array of archival documents and illustrations, Remains to be Seen: Tracing Joe Hill’s ashes in Aotearoa (New Zealand)—an easy-to-read account of censorship and radical labour during the First World War—is now available to purchase from Rebel Press. A free downloadable PDF version is also available from Rebel Press.
The book will be launched in Christchurch on Thursday June 30 at Beat Street Cafe (Corner Barbadoes and Armagh), at 5.30pm. Jared Davidson, author and designer of Remains to be Seen, will share a few thoughts on his research, and copies of the book will also be available for purchase.
On the eve of his execution in 1915, Joe Hill—radical songwriter, union organiser and member of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW)—penned one final telegram from his Utah prison cell: “Could you arrange to have my body hauled to the state line to be buried? I don’t want to be found dead in Utah.” Hill’s body was then cremated, his ashes placed into tiny packets and sent to IWW Locals, sympathetic organizations and individuals around the world. Among the nations said to receive Hill’s ashes, New Zealand is listed.
Yet nothing is known about what happened to the ashes of Joe Hill in New Zealand. Were Hill’s ashes really sent to New Zealand? Or was New Zealand simply listed to give such a symbolic act more scope? If they did make it, what ever happened to them?
Remains to be Seen traces the ashes of Joe Hill from their distribution in Chicago to wartime New Zealand. Drawing on previously unseen archival material, it examines the persecution of anarchists, socialists and Wobblies in New Zealand during the First World War. It also explores how intense censorship measures—put in place by the National Coalition Government of William Massey and zealously enforced by New Zealand’s Solicitor-General, Sir John Salmond—effectively silenced and suppressed the IWW in New Zealand.