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In Pennsylvania Mining Families, Barry P. Michrina offers a luminous portrait of Pennsylvania coal miners and their response to economic oppression. He follows them from the great coal strike of 1927 through daily threats of injury and death in the mines to the departure of children and grandchildren as the industry has declined. Drawing on numerous first-hand interviews, as well as extensive archival research, he analyzes the change in work practices, the miners’ own views about their ever-evolving situation, and relationships between miners and mining companies—undercutting the stereotypical picture of the rebellious miner.

Barry P. Michrina, professor of anthropology at Colorado Mesa University, is the author of Person to Person: Fieldwork, Dialogue, and the Hermeneutic Method.

An in-depth look at the day-to-day events that faced working men and their families in the central Pennsylvania coal region from the 1920s to the 1950s. . . . [The stories] are told in the words of people who lived the events and are supported with empirical evidence -- Pennsylvania Geographer

Michrina brings to his unusual and universal 'true' tales the sensitivity, style, and ironic distance of a great fiction writer. A wonderful book. -- Booklist

Should be on the reading list of every scholar or student who wants to understand the fieldwork process more fully -- Journal of American Folklore

Publication Date



The University Press of Kentucky

Place of Publication

Lexington, KY






Coal miners, Pennsylvania, Strikes, Lockouts


Labor History

Pennsylvania Mining Families: The Search for Dignity in the Coalfields
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