Product Details


Title:
Coal Towns 1880-1960 soft
Author:
Crandall A Shifflett
Publisher:
Tenn Univ Press
ISBN or Item #
0870498851
Date Listed:
2008-08-05 08:08:49
Retail Price:
$19.95
Our Price:
$17.95
Description:

Coal Towns

Life, Work, and Culture in Company Towns of Southern Appalachia, 1880–1960

by Crandall A. Shifflett.

Softbound, 259 pages, 6x9.125.

see also: A Guide to Historic Coal Towns of the Big Sandy River Valley

"Challenging the Edenic myth of preindustrial Appalachia propagated by some historians, 'Coal Towns' allows the reader to view mining life from the perspective of the workers themselves. Using oral histories, company records, and census data, Crandall A. Shifflett paints a vivid portrait of miners and their families in southern Appalachian coal towns from the late nineteenth into the mid-twentieth century. He finds that, compared to their earlier lives on subsistence farms, coal-town life was not all bad. Shifflett examines how this view, quite common among the oral histories of these working families, has been obscured by the middle-class biases of government studies and the Edenic myth of preindustrial Appalachia propagated by some historians.

"From their own point of view, mining families left behind a life of hard labor and drafty weatherboard homes. With little time for such celebrated arts as tale-telling and quilting, preindustrial mountain people strung more beans than dulcimers. In addition, the rural population was growing, and farmland was becoming scarce. What the families recall about the coal towns contradicts the popular image of mining life. Most miners did not owe their souls to the company store, and most mining companies were not unusually harsh taskmasters. Former miners and their families remember such company benefits as indoor plumbing, regular income, and leisure activities. They also recall the United Mine Workers of America as bringing not only pay raises and health benefits but work stoppages and violent confrontations.

"Shifflett reveals that, far from being mere victims of historical forces, miners and their families shaped their own destiny by forging a new working - class culture that had many continuities with previous ways of life. Shifflett recognizes the dangers and hardships of the coal-town existence but also shows the resilience of Appalachian people in adapting their culture to a new industrial envrionment."

"Crandall A. Shifflett is an associate professor of history at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University."