Which Side Are You On? – Union Song (1941)

This is a 1941 recording of “Which Side Are You On?”, performed by the Almanac Singers.

“Which Side Are You On?” was written in 1931 by Florence Reece, the wife of a union organizer for the United Mine Workers(UMW) in Harlan County, Kentucky.

In 1931, the miners and the mine owners of that region were locked in a violent struggle (Harlan County War). In an attempt to intimidate the Reece family, Sheriff J. H. Blair and his men (hired by the mining company) illegally entered their family home in search of Florence’s husband. Florence and their children were terrorized by the experience.

That night, after the men had gone, Florence wrote the lyrics to “Which Side Are You On?”

The melody was adapted from a traditional Baptist hymn, “Lay the Lily Low”.