Coal Mine Wars
  Book List                                             


Growing Up in Coal Country, by Susan Bartoletti. 1996. Nonfiction. Good description of what life in coal country in eastern Pennsylvania was like around turn of 20th century. Targeted to middle grade children. 

Matewan Before the Massacre: Politics, Coal, and the Roots of the Conflict in Mingo County, 1793-1920, by
Rebecca J. Bailey

Robert Shogun, The Battle of Blair Mountain: The Story of America’s Largest labor Uprising, Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 2004 (partisan, pro-miner and anti-company. Shogan reported as fact events which may not have happened; where it is impossible to tell from primary sources what actually happened, especially concerning Sid Hatfield’s death.)

Lon Savage, Thunder in the Mountains: The West Virginia Mine War, 1920-1921, Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1990. Excellent book, balanced, well-reserched. In preparation, Lon Savage talked to many people who, if not directly involved, were children of people involved, and his own father had been tangentially involved.


A Coal Miner’s Bride: The Diary of Anetka Kaminski, Latimer, Pennsylvania, 1896, Susan Campbell Bartoletti. New York: 2000. Published by Scholastic Inc. as part of their Dear America series. Written in diary form by a fictional girl who emigrates from Poland to America, to a coal camp in Lattimer, PA in the 1890’s. shows how hard life was then. Very realistic details. Shows immigrant life, customs. Targeted to middle grade girls.

Emmy, by Connie Jordan Green. 1992. Set in eastern Kentucky in 1924. Large family, nice people. Father has lost one arm and the use of one leg in a mining accident and the mother and children are all working like crazy to put food on the table. Targeted to middle grade girls

In Coal Country, by Judith Hendershot. 1992. Picture book. Gives brief impression of what life was like. No real story. Targeted to young children.

A Diamond in the Dust, by Carla Joinson. New York: Dial Books (division of Penguin Putnam Inc.), April, 2001. Set in a coal camp in Illinois in the first years of the 20th century. Shows very hard life. Does not explicitly blame coal operators. Main character is trying to get out of the mining town; her mother is her main opponent. Mother has been ruined by hard life. Targeted to middle grade girls, older middle grade.

Breaker, by N.A. Perez. 1988. Set in Pennsylvania in 1902. A children’s book.

Danger at the Breaker, by Catherine Welch (Andrea Shine is illustrator). Minneapolis: Carolrhoda Books, 1992. Short picture book for young children. Emphasizes how dangerous the work was.

Together in Pinecone Patch, by Thomas F. Yezerski. 1998. Picture book for young children. About immigrants, and how those from different countries did not band together, although in this book they do in the end. 

All of the above fiction is about coal towns around the turn of the 20th century in Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and Illinois. I haven’t been able to find similar books set in West Virginia. I am working to remedy that backward situation with a book about a brother and sister set in Matewan from 1919 to 1921. I have published one book on a completely different subject, on putting together programs for children with Asperger’s Syndrome (Help for the Child with Asperger’s Syndrome: A Parent’s Guide to Negotiating the Social Service Maze, by Gretchen Mertz, Jessica Kinglsey Publishers, 2005).

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