The Women of the Copper Country

The East Lansing Public Library Partners with Michigan Humanities for This Year’s Great Michigan Read.  Mary Doria Russell’s ‘The Women of the Copper Country’ is 2021-22 Pick

Residents in the mid-Michigan area are invited to join in reading and discussing “The Women of the Copper Country,” Mary Doria Russell’s riveting account of 25-year-old Annie Clements as she stood up for the miners and their families during the 1913 copper strikes. The book is Michigan Humanities’ choice for the 2021-2022 Great Michigan Read. The Great Michigan Read aims to connect Michiganians by deepening readers’ understanding of our state, our society, and our humanity. A statewide panel of teachers, librarians, community leaders and book lovers select the Great Michigan Read every two years. Russell will appear in a virtual program on Thursday, October 7, from 7-8 pm, via Zoom, from the East Lansing Public Library. Please submit questions before the event to for a chance to win an autographed copy of "The Women of the Copper Country".

Widely praised for meticulous research, fine prose, and the compelling narrative drive of her stories, Russell is the award-winning author of seven bestselling novels. Shelly Hendrick Kasprzycki, Michigan Humanities president and CEO, says she hopes Michigan citizens statewide can read, discuss and learn from Annie’s inspiring example as “America’s Joan of Arc” during an engaging Great Michigan Read program that addresses labor history, women’s history and a critical period in Michigan history when jobs dependent on the state’s ample natural resources – copper, iron, lumber – were switching to new jobs on production lines at Henry Ford’s auto factories.

“I’m so honored Michigan Humanities chose ‛The Women of the Copper Country’ for the 2021-2022 Great Michigan Read,” said Russell, who spent time in Michigan’s Keewenaw Peninsula walking through the streets of Calumet, touring the mines and visiting local museums as she prepared to write her fictionalized account of the real-life Big Annie. “The copper strike itself has been studied and written about by historians and legal experts, but those accounts are not meant to engage the reader’s emotions. That was my job – to combine imagination and empathy with research. “Here was a 25-year-old woman who is central to a strike against the most powerful company in the most dangerous industry of her time. A child of despised immigrants. A housewife with a simple education in a time when women couldn’t vote and weren’t supposed to take part in public life. Somehow, she mobilized 10,000 miners and kept everyone going, day after day, month after month. My task was to tell readers: What makes a woman like Annie Clements?” Russell added. The East Lansing Public Library will present a virtual program with Russell on Thursday, October 7, from 7-8 pm, via Zoom.  You can watch from the comfort of your home!  For more information on this program please go to  The 2021-22 Great Michigan Read is presented by Michigan Humanities and supported by national, statewide and local partners, including the National Endowment for the Humanities, The Meijer Foundation, and Martin Waymire.