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Paterson, 1913: A Labor Strike in the Progressive Era

by Mary Jane Treacy

When workers rebel...

New technologies are changing the nation's silk industry, workers are losing ground, labor organizations are offering solutions from reformist to radical. A city's economy hangs in the balance: what will happen? What should happen? Can you save Paterson and its people?



Cultural and Social History, Political Science and Government, Sociology, Labor History

20th Century; Late Modern History

In a Few Words
An industry and labor on the brink

North America

Themes and Issues  
Technology and its impact on work, immigration and its impact on labor, freedom of speech and assembly, labor organization, social class

Player Interactions 
Factional, Non-factional, Competitive, Collaborative, Aggressive, Coalition-Building

Sample Class Titles
US History From 1877; Progressivism; The Idea of Human Rights

Published Level 5 Flashpoint game (what's that mean?

Divided Spaces, Money, Rolling Dice, Resurrection Roles, Buying Food

Chaos and Demand on Instructor 
This game is moderately chaotic and demanding on the instructor.

Primary Source Highlights

Elizabeth Gurley Flynn: "The Truth about Paterson;" Jack Reed, "There's a War in Paterson;" Art Young, "Uncle Sam Ruled Out;" Emma Goldman," Anarchism: What it Really Stands For"

Notable Roles

Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, Police Chief John Bimson; John Reed

Using the Game

Class Size and Scalability
This game is recommended for classes with 11-35 students.

Class Time  
For this game, 1 setup session and 2 to 4 game sessions are recommended.

Possible Reacting Game Pairings
This game can be used on its own, or with other games. These pairings are meant to be illustrative rather than exhaustive or prescriptive. Paterson, 1913 may pair well with:

You can adjust the assignments to fit the desired learning outcomes of your class. This game can include optional in-role letters to an editor and optional reflection pieces. Not all roles are required to give formal speeches.


Confirmed instructors who are not yet members can access basic instructor materials. Reacting Consortium members can access all downloadable materials (including expanded and updated materials) below. You will be asked to sign in before downloading.


Students need a Gamebook, which includes directions, resources, and historical content. The Paterson, 1913 Gamebook is published by W.W. Norton. 

 ISBN: 978-0-393-53302-6
 Available wherever books are sold.

Role Sheets

Students also need a Role Sheet, which contains biographical information, role-specific resources or assignments, and their character's secret victory objectives. 

.zip file.

Instructor's Manual

The Instructor's Manual includes guidance for assigning roles, presenting historical context, assignments, activities and discussion topics, and more.   

.zip file.

.zip file.

Additional Resources 

Resources for Introduction and/or Debrief
The Wobblies. DVD Stewart Bird and Deborah Shaffer


Mary Jane Treacy

Mary Jane Treacy is professor emerita of modern languages and literatures at Simmons College, where she was also director of the honors program. She has been involved with the Reacting to the Past pedagogy since 2005, when she played a minor spy in the court of Henry VIII and then set out to write Greenwich Village, 1913, for her course in the roots of feminism. She has taught Greenwich Village in both women’s and gender studies courses and first-year seminars. She is also author of a new Flashpoints game on a labor strike in Paterson, NJ, and a new game on the aftermath of political violence in Argentina. A member of the Editorial Board, she has the privilege of reading and play-testing new games that take her to all eras and parts of the world.


"The game is very good at bringing out and forcing students to reckon with the ways that ideological differences and people’s different economic and other positions complicate coalition building, even among those ostensibly 'on the same side.'"

"It paves the way for a richer understanding of the labor side of Mary Jane’s first game, Greenwich Village. Students tend to focus on the more emotionally laden (and more singular issue, in a way) suffrage side of Greenwich Village, and if Paterson is played beforehand, that brings labor far more to the forefront. And the game is great as a standalone, for the course that cannot accommodate the length of GV or the course that wants to drill down on labor issues."

"The game is highly polished, works beautifully, and pushes students to engage with complicated intellectual and social questions."

"I played the game with a small group of initially skeptical and somewhat academically weak freshmen. Yet the game still built to a rich and engaging finale, even without much GM meddling. The focus on labor, social history, and uncelebrated people also makes the game a welcome addition."


Members can contact game authors directly

We invite instructors join our Facebook Faculty Lounge, where you'll find a wonderful community eager to help and answer questions. We also encourage you to submit your question for the forthcoming FAQ, and to check out our upcoming events


Greenwich Village
Greenwich Village, 1913: Suffrage, Labor, and the New Woman, Second Edition

Election of 1912
Progressivism at High Tide: The Election of 1912

Mexico in Revolution
Mexico in Revolution, 1912-1920


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