In Honor of Labor Day 2017

For Labor Day 2016, I wrote a blog post highlighting ancestors who belonged to labor unions. For 2017, I thought I’d highlight a few labor-related resources I’ve found helpful in researching my ancestors who worked in northeastern Pennsylvania’s anthracite coal industry.

Ancestry, “Pennsylvania, Coal Employment Records, 1900-1954

This collection (index and images) is sourced from Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company employment records held at the National Canal Museum in Easton, Pennsylvania. The Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company (LC&N) operated in Pennsylvania from 1818 to 1964, beginning as a canal-building company and diversifying into coal mining.1 The LC&N was a major employer in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania, appearing as the employer on many of my ancestors’ World War I draft registrations. Ancestry‘s collection provides images of employment cards showing names, marital status, job titles and dates, birth dates, nationality and citizenship, residence, spouse, and number and ages of children for Abromitis, Sakusky, Neifert, Whetstone, and Edmonds relatives.

Pennsylvania State Archives, Registers of Mine Accidents

Mining was dangerous, and there were many accidents. The Pennsylvania State Archives in Harrisburg holds original records of the Pennsylvania Department of Mines and Mineral Industries in Record Group 45, including Registers of Mine Accidents for the anthracite and bituminous districts from 1899 to 1972. Researcher Jerry Sherard created name indexes extracted from the mine accident registers and donated them to the Archives. Jerry’s extracts, hosted on the Archives’ RG-45 page, include the mine name, accident date, miner’s name, age, occupation, nationality, citizenship, marital status, number of children, and accident cause or remarks, along with page number references to the original accident registers. I have found records of fatal and non-fatal mining accidents involving Trewren and Buscavage relatives. Jerry also maintains a website detailing mining accidents in the U.S., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. You can refer to Jerry’s website for links to more information, and even ask him to do lookups!

Pennsylvania Annual Reports on Mining Activities

Another source of information on mining and mining accidents in Pennsylvania is the annual reports of mining activities and production. These reports were compiled starting in 1870 and continue to the present day. Images of reports, along with other useful information on Pennsylvania mining, are hosted at www.coalmininghistorypa.org. If you have ancestors who mined anthracite or bituminous coal in Pennsylvania, take a look at the reports for your ancestor’s time period and locality. You’ll find details of the colliers operating in the various counties, information on deaths, injuries, and accidents, production statistics, maps, and much, much more.

What are your favorite resources for researching your laboring ancestors?

  1. “Lehigh Coal & Navigation Company,” Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lehigh_Coal_%26_Navigation_Company : accessed 5 September 2017).
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