Teach PA History
Life in a Coal Patch
Further Reading

. Silver Cinders: The Legacy of Coal and Coke in Southwestern Pennsylvania. Cultural Heritage Research Services, Inc. (CHRS) and Branch Valley Video Productions, 2000.

This video is very comprehensive and provides excellent background for teachers. It includes comments from three people about their childhood growing up in a coal patch. 56 minutes

Brestensky, Dennis F. and others. Patch/Work Voices: The Culture and Lore of a Mining People.. Uniontown, PA: Patch/Work Voices Publishing, 2003.

This excellent resource takes a look at the culture of the coal mining people of Southwestern Pennsylvania. Chapters include: The Coming, The Work, Home and Community, Beliefs and Customs, and A Touch of Humor. Many voices of those who lived in patch towns are included.

Brophy, John. A Miner's Life: An Autobiography.. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 1964.

Brophy’s autobiography, details his work in the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA). Also includes his work in coal mines as a boy and young man, and gives his perspective on his conflict with John L. Lewis, the long-time president of the UMWA.

Freese, Barbara. Coal: A Human History. Cambridge, MA: Perseus Publishing, 2003.

This informative book provides a very comprehensive study of coal mining. It begins with coal mining history in England and Scotland, covers bituminous and anthracite mining in the United States, and also gives some information on mining in China. It emphasizes health issues and pollution involved in mining and burning coal through the past several centuries.

Hovanec, Evelyn A. Common Lives of Uncommon Strength: The Women of the Coal and Coke Era of Southwestern Pennsylvania 1880-1970. Uniontown, PA: Patch/Work Voices Publishing, 2001.

A terrific resource on the thousands of women who lived in southwestern Pennsylvania as their husbands worked in the bituminous coal and coke industries there. The book includes stories about women's daily lives, their relationships, and their support systems during tragedy.

Korson, George. Coal Dust on the Fiddle Songs and Stories of the Bituminous Industry. Hatboro, Pennsylvania: Folklore Associates, INC., 1965.

This book preserves the history of bituminous coal mining in the United States through songs and poems.

Levy, Elizabeth and Tad Richards. Struggle and Lose, Struggle and Win: The United Mine Workers. New York, New York: Four Winds Press, 1977.

This book tells the history of the United Mine Workers Union. It includes many labor leaders such as Mother Jones, John Mitchell, and John Lewis, and chronicles the struggles to form a union and the corruption of the union after it was formed.

Miller, E. Willard. Pennsylvania, Keystone to Progress: An Illustrated History. United States: Windsor Publications, Inc, 1986.

Miller highlights the history of Pennsylvania economic development. The section on the bituminous coal industry is a very good overview.

Web Sites

Appalachian Blacksmith's Association

This site provides helpful overviews of the types of coal, their uses, how coal is formed, and how it is mined.

EIA-Coal Data, Reports, Analysis, Surveys

Provided by the Energy Information Administration, the site not only supplies current data about the coal market, it also offers basic information on the topic.

Elementary School~Lesson Plans~American Coal Foundation

The American Coal Foundation offers an excellent website for information and education on coal. In a link entitled "All About Coal" find articles discussing issues such as land reclamation or the marketing of coal. The site also provides great teacher resources; web links to related organizations, government agencies, and universities; and appropriate reading materials. This page takes you directly to other elementary lesson plans.

Folklore in Southwestern Pennsylvania Bituminous Coal Mining

This website presents a 1998 college paper from Roger Williams University about the folklore of bituminous coal mining. Although the student's conclusion seems premature (having interviewed four workers, three from the same mine), the examples given and the folklore areas explored –food, religion, animals, women, ghosts– are interesting. Patch Work/Voices is quoted several times and is an excellent resource.

George Korson Collection (The American Folklife Center, Library of Congress)

This weblink describes the collection of one of America's first industrial folklore collectors and interpreters, George Gershon Korson. Within the collection are folk tunes of coal miners from the bituminous coal region in Pennsylvania. Approximately 100 songs and ballads sung in the Pennsylvania bituminous coal region are garnered together in his book, Coal Dust on the Fiddle: Songs and Stories of the Bituminous Industry.

The Coal and Coke Heritage Center

The center, located at the Penn State-Fayette Campus, offers excellent resources for the history of coal mining and coke for the Connellsville region of Pennsylvania.

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