1. An archive is a group of documents—most often primary or original sources—which constitute a historical record of a person, organization or event. Archives are most often a combination of paper and photographs but film, video, oral histories and microform formats are also commonplace. Increasingly, documents that originate in a digital format are being archived, too. To read more visit: https://appalachiancenter.as.uky.edu/special-collections-project

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  2. The presence of a Communist Party labor union deeply disturbed the local elite of Bell and Harlan Counties. Repression of the miners and their families was swift. Coal operators, merchants, the editor of the Pineville Sun, Herndon Evans, and local police forces worked in different ways to disrupt the flow of aid to the miners and their families and depicted the strikers as anti-American. Soup kitchens were attacked, miners were beaten up in their homes, and surveillance of NMU sympathizers was intense. Herndon Evans, who was also an Associated Press correspondent, used his position to send press releases across the nation coloring the situation in the coalfields as he pleased. To read more visit: https://appalachiancenter.as.uky.edu/special-collections-project

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  3. The economic distress—both local and national—combined with the United Mine Workers of America’s unwillingness to support the miners provided the opening for what John Hennen calls a “radical alternative.” The National Miners Union (NMU) was the result of the American Communist Party’s decision to no longer “bore from within” established trade unions but instead to create its own unions. Pledging to back the striking miners when traditional outlets like the Red Cross were withholding aid, the NMU earned the allegiance of a small but dedicated number of miners. To read more visit: https://appalachiancenter.as.uky.edu/special-collections-project

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  4. To counteract the “official” stories coming out of Harlan and Bell counties and to witness and document the violence directed at miners, William Z. Foster, head of the American Communist Party sought the talents of writers like Theodore Dreiser, John Dos Passos and Sherwood Anderson. “The Dreiser Committee,” as it came to be called, traveled to Bell and Harlan counties. There the Committee observed the strike and the conditions under which the miners and their families were living. To read more visit: https://appalachiancenter.as.uky.edu/special-collections-project

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  5. Appalachia has often been falsely depicted as a place of isolation—geographically, culturally, economically. This sense of being apart from the rest of the nation is one of the most frequently recycled stereotypes about eastern Kentucky and is woven into numerous Hollywood films, newspaper stories, and television shows. The strike in Bell and Harlan counties in 1931-32 is one of many historical events that challenges this notion that Appalachia is “a place where time stands still.” To read more visit: https://appalachiancenter.as.uky.edu/special-collections-project

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From the Libraries' Appalachian Collection "A Strike Against Starvation and Terror"

University of Kentucky CELT

An archival exercise exploring a coal miners' strike

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