In January of 1999, on a frigid, icy day, Clara Bingham made her first trip to the Iron Range--a place in the farthest northern reaches of the country, one hour north of Duluth and just two hours east of Fargo, North Dakota. There, she spent several days with Lois Jenson in her apartment pouring over 12 boxes of documents, journal entries, and scrapbooks that she had kept since 1975. She began the slow process of going through Lois's papers and interviewing her extensively as she recreated what had happened in her life from 1975 to the present. Over the next year and a half, she returned to the Iron Range eight more times, where she spent countless hours with Lois.
While much of our material came from Lois, the foundations of this book rest in the legal record left behind by Jenson v. Eveleth. Thousands of pages of court documents--trial transcripts, depositions, exhibits, and judicial opinions--provided the brick and mortar of this narrative. Innumerable interviews with the plaintiffs, their families, and their lawyers, made it possible for us to understand the people and the values of the Iron Range of Northern Minnesota.
In 1999 and 2000 on her trips to the Range, Clara interviewed community leaders, the women miners involved in the case, and their families. Lois Jenson had kept detailed notes and journals chronicling her experience both at Eveleth Mines and as the lead plaintiff in Jenson v. Eveleth. Lois generously shared these personal records with us. Paul Sprenger and Jean Boler also patiently answered our questions in regular interviews over the course of two years. Laura also interviewed the other lawyers and legal assistants at Sprenger & Lang who were involved in the lawsuit, as well as expert witnesses, and independent legal experts familiar with the case, both in Minneapolis and Washington, D.C.
The former and current male miners at Eveleth refused every request for an interview. Nevertheless, Clara found several men with important first-hand experience who agreed to be interviewed both on and off the record. Meanwhile, Oglebay Norton's former managers, as well as the company's current management team, declined to be interviewed, as did their lawyers in the case. Stan Daniels, the former president of the union, met our requests with a cold shoulder, as did the current management of Eveleth Mines. We were denied an official tour of Eveleth's taconite plant, and Clara had to visit the facility as a private guest of one of the miners.
From the start, our goal has been to tell a fair, balanced story. The company's freezing of any information that would tell its version of events made the job harder. In the end we could only help the reader hear the voice of the company, as well as the voices of the men at the mine, by depending on their depositions, trial testimony, and other legal records and exhibits.
Most of the dialogue in the book comes directly from trial transcripts. The rest has been gleaned from interviews with one or more people who were present at the scene. When scenes were recreated, we consulted several sources. For example, when Lois and Steve Povroznik had a scuffle in his office, we took Steve's version of what happened from his depositions, Lois's version from her trial testimony, and her interviews for this book, as well as the version Lois told her therapist Claire Bell, which was recorded in Bell's notes. With each of these subtle variations of a twenty-minute-long event, we constructed the story that seemed the most believable and consistent with all of the versions that had been told over the course of nearly fifteen years.
Class Action is the only publication that attempts to tell the full story of these people and this trial. We relied on a surprisingly slim number of secondary sources. For coverage of the lawsuit, they read articles published in the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the St. Paul Pioneer Press, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the Duluth News-Tribune, and the Mesabi Daily News.
For information about the history of the Iron Range, and the iron ore business, we relied on the following books and publications:
Margaret Culkin Banning, Mesabi: A Novel. New York: Harper & Row, 1969.
James Howard Bridge, The Inside History of the Carnegie Steel Company. Pittsburgh: The University of Pittsburgh Press, 1991.
Ron Chernow, Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller Sr. New York: Random House, 1998.
Clifford E. Clark Jr. editor, Minnesota in a Century of Change: The State and Its People Since 1900. St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 1989.
E.W. Davis, Pioneering With Taconite. St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society, 1964.
Robert F. Harney, "Tuteshi: Understanding the Historical Evolution of Iron Rangers," Entrepreneurs and Immigrants: Life on the Industrial Frontier of Northeastern Minnesota. Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board, 1991.
Barbara Lamppa, "Women on the Iron Range," in Range History, a quarterly publication of the Iron Range Historical Society, June 1978.
Marvin Lamppa, Iron Country, Minnesota Public Television documentary series, 2000.
Paul H. Landis, The Iron Mining Towns: A Study in Cultural Change. Ann Arbor: Edwards Brothers, Inc., 1938.
William E. Lass, Minnesota: A History. New York: W.W. Norton, 1998.
Dana Miller, "Did Taconite Save the Iron Range?" and "Iron Range Communities in Transition," published in The Iron Range in Transition: Roots for People Discovering Minnesota's History. St. Paul: The Minnesota Historical Society, Vol. 17, No. 3, spring 1989.
Frank L. Palmer, Spies of Steel: An Expose of Industrial War. The Labor Press, 1928.
Robert Shelton, No Direction Home: A Life and Music of Bob Dylan. New York: Shelton Da Capo Press, 1997.
Frederick Stonehouse, The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald. Gwinn, Michigan: Avery Color Studios, 1977.
John Syrjamaki, Mesabi Communities: A Study of Their Development, a dissertation presented to the Faculty of the Graduate School of Yale University in Candidacy for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, June 1940.
David A. Walker, Iron Frontier: The Discovery and Early Development of Minnesota's Three Ranges. St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 1979.
Minnesota, A State Guide by the Federal Writer's Project of the Works Progress Administration. New York: Viking Press, 1939.
We also consulted, Skillings Mining Review, Duluth, Minnesota, and the Annual Report of the Inspector of Mines, St. Louis County, Minnesota, 1946, 1975, 1979, 1980, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, and several years of the Oglebay Norton annual report.
For information on the history of sexual-harassment law, we referred to:
Ruth Rosen, The World Split Open: How the Modern Women's Movement Changed America. New York: Viking, 2000.
Catharine A. MacKinnon, Sexual Harassment of Working Women. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1979.
Laura W. Stein, editor, Sexual Harassment in America: A Documentary History. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1999.
Vicki Schultz, "Recapturing Sexual Harassment," 107 Yale L.J. 1683. April, 1998.