Reading “Harlan Miners Speak: Terrorism in the Kentucky Coal Fields”

In the early 1930s, The Dreiser Committee interviewed many of the victims of the Harlan County War. The interviewed responses reveal the horrific living and working conditions of the coal miners and their families in Harlan County who endured lack of food, clothing, medicine, and basic necessities. Because the miners went on strike to protest these living conditions, coal mine operators retaliated and 11 people died.

The Dreiser Committee Report may be factually flawed but the voices of the miners and family members evoke images of a time in Kentucky history that gets largely overlooked. The coal miners and their families banded together to support each other, uniting, not just under the United Mine Workers Union, but as a community of miners with one common goal–better living and working conditions. Though the coal mine operators used threats and intimidation, they did not break the communities at large.Image

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