West Virginia Mine Wars

West Virginia University

A project to digitize historical newspaper archives in West Virginia has landed another grant.

The West Virginia University Libraries' West Virginia & Regional History Center received a nearly $202,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to keep digitizing newspapers published in the state from 1790 to 1923. It's the fifth grant contribution from the National Endowment for the Humanities, bringing the group's total contribution to the center's efforts to $968,000.

August 28 1921: Armed Miners March on Blair Mountain

Aug 28, 2019
Heidi Perov / WV Humanities Council

August 28, 1921, was a pivotal day in the armed miners’ march on Logan County. The march by thousands of pro-union miners, which had begun in Kanawha County three days earlier, was a key event during the Mine Wars.

Union District 17 president Frank Keeney had caught up with the marchers at Madison and implored them to return home. To this day, nobody’s quite sure whether Keeney was secretly giving the miners a different message in private. Regardless, his words had a mixed effect. Some miners began to return home, while others pushed on.

Labor spy C. E. Lively died in Huntington on May 28, 1962, at age 75. Lively first came to Matewan in Mingo County in 1920 and joined the union during the drive to organize Tug Fork miners. He also befriended Sid Hatfield, the police chief of Matewan, who became a hero to miners after the 1920 Matewan Massacre.

Lawman Cunningham Leads an Armed Posse into Stanaford

Feb 25, 2016
Lawman Dan Cunningham
e-WV Encyclopedia / WV State Archives

On February 25, 1903, an early labor-related shootout took place at Stanaford, near Beckley. At dawn, Deputy U.S. Marshal Dan Cunningham led an armed posse into Stanaford. Several days before, striking miners had prevented Cunningham and others from serving court papers.

Teaching Teachers to Teach W. Va. Mine Wars History

Jan 8, 2016
West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On West Virginia Morning Senia Smoot Reinert of Charleston got an early start in her engineering career when she attended a camp at a university while in high school. And singer-songwriter and guitarist Mac McAnally performs our Mountain Stage song of the week. That’s on West Virginia Morning from West Virginia Public Broadcasting – telling West Virginia’s story.

Doug Estepp / Coal Country Tours

The West Virginia Mine Wars is a period of our state’s history that until around the 1980s was often censored or left out in classrooms across the state. But a new class through Shepherd University's Lifelong Learning Program will offer tools for history teachers in West Virginia and beyond.

Courtesy of Kenneth King and the WV Mine Wars Museum

Amid news of more mine lay-offs, one former coal town has built a labor museum to attract visitors. Driving down to the new West Virginia Mine Wars Museum , you really feel the fading towns and cities, sliding into the backdrop of the mountains. It's surreal. Many places in Appalachia are. It’s sad to many people who remember the thriving economy here when coal was booming. Wilma Lee Steele says she hopes the museum in Matewan will become a place where people throughout the coalfields can come to reclaim their identity. “I think that we have a lot to say, and I think we’re gonna say it. We’re gonna tell our history, and we’re gonna come together as a community.”

As part of the West Virginia Focus Magazine project called Turn This Town Around, experts with the West Virginia Community Development HUB are helping Matewan focus, pursue, and execute plans to revitalize the town.