United Mine Workers of America photographic, graphic, and artifacts collection, 1891-1997

9377

Collection Overview

Title:
United Mine Workers of America photographic, graphic, and artifacts collection
Dates (Inclusive):
circa 1891-1997
Creator:
United Mine Workers of America
Abstract:
The United Mine Workers of America (UMW) formed in 1890 and flourished under the presidency of John L. Lewis, 1920-1962. The union remains active in the twenty-first century. This collection consists mainly of photographs documenting United Mine Workers of America conventions and officials, a photographic survey of American miners' homes, and labor cartoons.
Collection Number:
9377
Size:
16 Linear Feet
Location:
For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the  library catalog.
Repository:
Special Collections Library. Pennsylvania State University.
Languages:
English

Scope and Contents

This collection includes numerous panorama photographs from conventions and conferences, as well as portraits of UMW international and district officers and other prominent individuals in labor or government. There are also drawn portraits.

Questionnaires and approximately 240 photographs from a survey of American miners' homes provide a rare and detailed look into the impoverished circumstances of their lives during World War II. In addition to identifying family members in the photographs, the questionnaires document individual miners' income and expenses, as well as some details of their housing situation. Both white and African-American miners' homes and families are represented.

No documentation exists on this survey. Because the typescript questionnaires are arranged by district, it seems likely that the survey was undertaken by the union itself, rather than by a government agency or some other external entity; organization by district is the normal procedure for UMW records. Perhaps the UMW needed evidence to convince the nation and the government that coal miners and their families remained mired in poverty as a consequence of a wartime wage freeze that continued despite heightened industrial production and profits

Also in the collection are numerous oversize cartoons. It is unclear whether these derive from the UMW Journal or existed solely as wall hangings in the UMW international office, or perhaps both, i.e., Journal materials became wall hangings. In any event, just as the photographs in this collection complement a much larger body of images in the UMW Journal Office Records in the Special Collections Library, so too these cartoons complement a substantially larger body of cartoons within the Journal Office Records, variously humorous, wry, and poignant. Collectively they provide insights into mining, miners' lives, and American politics in the mid-twentieth century, as well as timeless commentary on the human condition.

Among other materials are mounted reproductions of documents and images from an unidentified UMW exhibit, posters assembled from photographic portraits of members of the UMW International Executive Board (IEB), posters from other unions, certificates documenting honors received by UMW individuals and memorials to UMW individuals, and a mounted copy of the charter of UMW District 50. There are two maps of UMW districts (1938 and undated). Artifacts include a UMW pen set, COMPAC (Coal Miners Political Action Committee) stickers, IEB matchbooks, union tie-tacks, a UMW magnet, and three huge flags, one of which appears prominently in a photograph of the 1938 UMW convention in the Journal Office Records.

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Arrangement of the Collection

The collection is arranged by format: 1: Photographic items (circa 1891-1974 and undated); 2: Graphic items (1919-1980 and undated); 3: Artifacts (circa 1950-1997 and undated).

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Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

Collection is open for research. Records less than 20 years old shall be made accessible only with the written permission of the designated representative of the donor.

Copyright Restrictions

Copyright, where it persists, is retained by the creators of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.

Preferred Citation

[Item Title], United Mine Workers of America photographic, graphic, and artifacts collection, Collection 9377, Special Collections Library, University Libraries, Pennsylvania State University.

Acquisition Information

Gift of United Mine Workers of America, 1994-2012.

Processing Information

Processed by Barry Kernfeld.

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Collection Inventory

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