Organized in 1886, the Kerr Company introduced Marx to the American political discussion through publication of the Communist Manifesto. Kerr also published the International Socialist Review. During the great Pullman Strike of 1894, Kerr brought out The Pullman Strike by Rev. William Carwardine, Methodist minister at Pullman, which provided a full account of the workers' grievances against the Company. When Mother Jones wrote her Autobiography, it was at the behest of Kerr who published this classic in 1925 with an introduction by Clarence Darrow. The Autobiography and The Pullman Strike were reprinted under the sponsorship of the Illinois Labor History Society in 1971-72, shortly after the founding of the Society in 1969.
A member of the IWW since his childhood, Franklin was the son of Henry Rosemont, a prominent figure in the Chicago Typographical Union, and of Sally Rosemont, a jazz musician and union member. He was elected to the Board of Trustees of the ILHS in 1981, where he served until his untimely death at age 65 on April 12, 2009. He and his wife Penelope, Secretary-Treasurer of the Kerr Company, were inducted into the Union Hall of Honor of the Illinois Labor History Society in 2005. The citation describes them as "faithful stewards of the Charles H. Kerr Company, publishers of labor and radical classics since 1886."
Franklin was an author in his own right, his most recent book being Joe Hill: The IWW & the Making of a Revolutionary Workingclass Counterculture. Profuse with IWW illustrations, it should be in every labor historian's collection. Another of his major contributions is the Haymarket Scrapbook, written with David Roediger in 1986 to mark the centennial of the Haymarket Tragedy. The Big Red Song Book was his most recent collaboration with David Roediger, Salvatore Salerno and the late great folklorist Archie Green.
Illinois Labor History Society