A Most Deadly Business

During the early morning hours of December 5, 1885, John Lynot labored hundreds of feet underground in the stale air of his “breast,” a black chamber in the coal seam the size of a small room, preparing an explosive charge. An anthracite miner for the Lehigh & Wilkes-Barre Coal Company, Lynot earned eighty-five cents for each two ton mine car he filled. Finding the weakest point...
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Northampton County: From Frontier Farms to Urban Industries – and Beyond

Sweeping across southcentral Pennsyl­vania lies the Great Valley and nestled in its northeastern corner is mod­ern Northampton County. Bordered on the east by the Delaware River, on the south by South Mountain and the piedmont, and on the west by the valley of the Lehigh River, the three hundred and seventy-two square mile re­gion is one of gently rolling hills and wooded valleys, with...
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To Organize the Unorganized

The year 1919 was marked by an explosion of activity in the American labor movement. Discontent surged among industrial workers as promises of wage increases and improved working conditions, made by employers during World War One, failed to materialize. Telegraph operators, theater ushers and textile workers joined firemen, policemen and dock workers to oppose some of the country’s most...
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The ‘State’ of Allegheny

One of the first centers of the organization of the Re­publican party and scene of its first national conven­tion in February, 1856, Allegheny County was strongly for Lincoln in the presidential election of 1860. As the vote count proceeded, one of the leaders kept sending telegrams to Lincoln’s home in Illinois, keeping him up on the news that “Allegheny gives a majority of …...
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Unity House, A Workers’ Shangri-La

I can imagine the hundreds of people who were here on any summer evening,” recalls Nelson Whittaker, veteran custodian of twenty-five years. “They’d be walking around, talking, going to a theater performance, dancing in the ballroom, listening to a lecture, enjoying a fantastic meal. Now, it’s all gone.” For most of the twentieth century, garment workers –...
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Bookshelf

Sweet William: The Life of Billy Conn by Andrew O’Toole published by the University of Illinois Press, 2008; 253 pages, cloth, $32.95 An Irish working-class hero of Pittsburgh, William David “Billy” Conn (1917–1993) captured the hearts of his contemporaries with his stellar boxing record, ebullient personality, and good looks. A lightweight boxing champion, Conn had defeated nine current or...
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