The All-Too-Youthful Proletarians: Breaker Boys of the Anthracite Coal Region in the Early 1900s

Many Pennsylvanians have long forgotten one of the state’s major claims to national prominence in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries-the anthra­cite coal industry. In those years, clean-burning anthracite heated more homes in the northeastern United States than any other fuel, and a 1,700 square-mile area in northeast Pennsyl­vania produced almost all of the nation’s...
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The Molly Maguires: Fighting for Justice

Early on the morning of Wednesday. Septem­ber 1, 1875, a young English-born mine foreman started from his Schuylkill County residence to the Shenandoah coal colliery where he was employed. A gunshot pierced the air. Scrambling for cover behind a neighbor’s house, he was met by another assassin who drew his revolver and fired. Struck in the groin, the young man staggered blindly and fell to...
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Ethnic History: Of the Children, by the Children, for the Children

Interest in the study of history is drifting in conflicting directions. The teaching of Pennsylvania history in schools is steadily declining and enrollment in history classes at all levels including college has slipped. The growing idolization of exact sciences such as physics and chemistry and quantif­ication has discredited the sometimes subjective perceptions of historical studies. On the...
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A Jewel in the Crown of Old King Coal: Eckley Miners’ Village

It survives – somewhat miraculously – as a vestige of Pennsylvania’s coal mining heritage, a link in what was once a chain of little coal communities, or patch towns, that dotted the anthracite region. “Eckley is part of the puzzle, but not a unique part. There were numerous, almost identical, mining patch towns like Eckley,” explains Vance Packard, site...
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Who Are These Anthracite People? Pennsylvania Anthracite Heritage Museum

In the beginning were only the great transverse mountains, seen as ridge upon overlapping ridge stretching far into the horizon of northeastern Pennsylvania. Wide expanses of sweeping landscape contained virgin forests – thick, verdant, and heavy. Deep valleys formed by resplendent rivers – on the east, the Delaware; to the west, the Susquehanna; and northward, the Lackawanna where...
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Crusader with a Camera: Lewis Hine and His Battle against Child “Slavery”

National History Day, held each year in June, caps a series of competi­tions conducted at successively higher levels during the academic year. During the year, school students engage in extensive research of primary sources in order to prepare papers, projects, performances, and media presentations based on a historical theme. National History Day is open to students in grades six through eight,...
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Visiting the Museum of Anthracite Mining: A Walk Through the Rise and Fall of Anthracite Might

One of Pennsylvania’s most significant resources was once considered useless. Although anthracite was distinguished as a natural resource as early as 1770, the sale of “stone coal” – as it was then called – was outlawed in some places. Many believed that anthracite (or “hard” coal) was little better than slate and would not burn. Eventually, however, a...
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