A Wynning History summer project will explore 1902 coal strike in Williams Valley

As we enter the summer of 2020, the United States is gripped by a pandemic, an economic crisis, and protests over inequality and police brutality. By all accounts, this is going to a long summer as crucial issues that have gone unaddressed in this nation are addressed. Millions of Americans are taking to the street to register their dissatisfaction with the stalled status quo in a divided nation.

A photograph from the recent protests in Washington, DC. (Author’s Photograph)

This focus on social change amid turbulent times has encouraged me to do something I’ve long sought to do here with this blog. For years, I’ve collected stories and sources about the epic 1902 United Mine Workers of America strike in the Coal Region.

This massive labor uprising changed the region and reshaped the labor landscape in the United States. But this wasn’t easy. The summer of 1902 was a complicated, messy, sometimes violent time period in American history. It raised fears of a bitterly cold winter in the growing cities of the Northeast and created a crisis for the administration of President Theodore Roosevelt.

Coal Cartoon 1902
A political cartoon about the 1902 Coal Strike (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)


Over the summer months, we are going to take a look at how the 1902 strike played out in the Williams Valley mining communities of Lykens, Wiconisco, Williamstown, and Tower City. These are my roots – I grew up in Williamstown – and I want to dive into the history of how these small Coal Region towns earned nationwide headlines and lead the way toward a better, safer, and more equitable working environment for millions of Americans.

I hope you’ll enjoy the series. You’ll be able to find all the coming stories by clicking the “1902 Coal Strike” tag HERE or below this article.

Featured Image: Coal miners at Williamstown Colliery (Williamstown Historical Society)

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