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About the Collection
The T.R. Johns Collection: Beneath the Surface: Life, Work and Social Structure in the Mining Community of Heilwood, Pennsylvania
About the Collection: The Thomas Richards (T.R.) Johns Papers digital project offers a unique historical resource to examine life, work, and community within the central Pennsylvania bituminous coal mining region.
Series 1: Correspondence and Personal Letters,
date range: 1853-1948; bulk: 1919-1940
The Correspondence and Personal Letters series of the T.R. Johns Papers fall into two broad categories: letters sent and received by Johns' family members and T.R. Johns' personal and business correspondence files. The Johns family correspondence covers relations with extended family members and friends, genealogy and Welsh ancestry, and family ties to the local mining communities in which they lived. T.R. Johns' personal and business correspondence primarily documents his tenure as general manager of the Penn Mary Coal Company in Heilwood, Pennsylvania and his rise to Vice-president of the Industrial Collieries Corporation, the mining subsidiary of the Bethlehem Steel Corporation. The series contains company memoranda, mine engineering and coal production reports, and Johns' correspondence with prominent steel and mining executives, state mine bureau officials, Pennsylvania political figures, and associates in professional mine engineering associations. There is significant documentation of the history of the labor-management relations in the coal mining industry and specifically, the 1922 bituminous coal strike in central Pennsylvania. The series also includes the Helvetia (Pennsylvania) Mining Company letter press book- 800 pages- which documents John's earlier work as a mining superintendent during the 1890s.
Series 2: Memorabilia, Scrapbooks, and Notebooks Series,
date range: 1870-1948; bulk 1880-1930
The Johns Papers include several family-related scrapbooks, memorabilia files, and T.R. Johns' personal scrapbooks, notebooks, and reference materials compiled during the course of his long managerial career. The bulk of the series consists of news clippings and assorted ephemera chronicling Johns' family history and significant professional mileposts. T.R. Johns' notebooks include information on mining productivity, analysis of the heating properties and efficiency of various grades of coal, and marketing of coal. Johns also kept appointment books documenting travel, meetings, and expenses. Entries include written quotations, ethical lessons, and self-improvement instructions. Johns also acquired a historical reference scrapbook compiled by the Ohio State Inspector of Mines, Andrew Roy. The Roy scrapbook contains serialized articles and news clippings — some authored by Roy — devoted to the history of mining and mine safety in Ohio's Hocking Valley during the nineteenth century.
Series 3: Photographs and Scrapbooks Series,
date range: 1883-1930; bulk: 1906-1930
The Photographs and Scrapbooks Series contains 400 photographs originally bound in Johns family photograph scrapbooks and corporate photograph albums produced by the Industrial Collieries Corporation, the firm that employed T.R. Johns. The historical images are organized into the following subject categories: company welfare; mine safety; iron works and furnaces; Pennsylvania coal miners and operations; strikes and labor disputes; Heilwood community; Industrial Collieries Corporation and T.R. Johns Family scrapbooks; Company Town Panoramas; and the Heilwood Photograph Collection of Thelma Kirker. This series documents John's family history and the social history of the mining communities in which they lived. Highlights include images of life, work, and class structure within the insular mining community of Heilwood, Pennsylvania. The series also illustrates the extensive social, political, economic power wielded by large steel firms and their mining subsidiaries within the company towns they controlled. The corporate welfare program of the Industrial Collieries Corporation is extensively documented in images of company housing for miners, stores, churches, recreation facilities, arcades, schools, and hospitals. There is a wealth of pictorial information pertaining to labor and ethnicity. Highlights include photographs of miners and other workers employed by the Penn-Mary Coal Company, the encampment of Pennsylvania National Guard troops in Heilwood during the bituminous coal strike of 1922, and a Heilwood Fourth of July community celebration and parade (1919) in which various ethnic fraternal societies participated.