This correspondence documents the issues that filtered through district representatives to executives at UMW district and international offices, as well as the presidential decisions on action to be taken. Mine disasters, organizing activities, wildcat strikes, rivalries with competing regional unions, and diverse grievances are among the concerns that reached the president.
There is a small amount of President-District correspondence and related records for several districts from the period 1894-1910 and a slightly more substantial run in the years 1911-1919. The bulk of these records date from 1920-1982, during the presidencies of John L. Lewis, Thomas Kennedy, William Boyle, Arnold Miller, and Sam Church.
These materials include a photographic survey of American miners’ homes, panoramic photographs of UMWA conventions and conferences, oversize graphics and cartoons, and reproduced images of original documentation exhibited by the UMWA, as well as several union related artifacts.
Between 1943 and 1944 the UMWA undertook a survey of the economic and living conditions of miners and their families in isolated coal mining patches and settlements throughout the United States. Hired social and field workers compiled a wealth of economic data in the form of survey sheets and photo-documentary evidence of the quality of life among miners. The UMWA used this survey information and accompanying photographic evidence to address a number of issues—substandard wages, poor housing conditions, and lack of adequate health care. The survey was a critical prelude for the UMWA’s push for federal legislation to establish funding for miners; healthcare and pensions—supported by a corporate tax on tonnage mined.
The UMWA Story Map Journal integrates data and photographic documentation compiled from the UMWA Miners ’Survey of 1943-1944, with overlapping GIS mapping content. The UMWA Story Map Journal serves as a resource for future digital scholarship involving the historical study of miners’ living conditions and regional poverty.