Home > Bert T. Combs Appalachian Collection > Coal Industry

Coal Industry

Coal miners waiting for the mantrip. Gary, McDowell County, W. Va., 1946Ashland Coal and Iron Railway Company Mines Ledger, 1888-1889

The collection consists of an Ashland Coal and Iron Railway Company mines ledger which records company accounts of miner's wages, staff salaries, coal sales, rent, and supplies and equipment.

Benham CoalBenham Coal Company records, 1911-1973

The records focus primarily on the early years of Benham Coal through the 1940s, including office files, Employee Benefits Association records, files on accidents and safety, and photographs. This collection has been digitized as part of the NEH-funded Coal, Camps, & Railroads grant and is available on ExploreUK.

John B. Breckinridge Collection, 1931-1979

Breckinridge was a Democrat who served as Attorney General of Kentucky (1959-1963, 1967-1971) and also served as a member of the United States House of Representatives from Kentucky (1972-1978). See boxes 88, 89, 175, 200-202 for materials related to the coal industry.

Madeline McDowell Breckinridge Papers, 1867, 1888-1923

Madeline McDowell Breckinridge made significant contributions to the causes which she initiated or supported. Breckinridge served as president of the Kentucky Equal Rights Association, 1912-1915 and again in 1919. She was second vice-president of the National Woman Suffrage Association, 1913-1914. In addition, she was a member of the Board of Trustees of the Fayette County Tuberculosis Fayette County Associated Charities, on the executive committee of the Lexington League and was vice-president of the Kentucky Child Labor Commission. The collection consists almost entirely of pamphlets, broadsides, leaflets and printed materials which reflect Mrs. Breckinridge's wide range of interest in social and political concerns. Included is information regarding the Cherry Mine Disaster in Illinois.

Anne and Harry M. Caudill Collection, 1854-1996

Harry Caudill was best known nationally for his role as a writer-of about 80 newspaper essays, 50 odd magazine articles, more than 120 lectures and speeches, and 10 books-who drew attention to the social, economic, and environmental problems the coal industry had caused in his region, earning him the moniker "Upton Sinclair of the coal fields." Caudill also served in the Kentucky House of Representatives and taught Appalachian history at the University of Kentucky. Caudill's was supported by his wife, Anne Frye Caudill. 

Albert B. "Happy" Chandler Collection, 1920-1974

The public career of Albert B. "Happy" Chandler began in 1928 and spanned a fifty year period, highlighted by two terms as Governor of Kentucky, six years as United States Senator and a tenure as Commissioner of Baseball.

Earle C. Clements Collection, 1922-1988

Clements served as Member of Congress (1944-1947), Governor of Kentucky (1947-1950). and U.S. Senator (1951-1956). He generally supported Democratic party measures.

John Sherman Cooper Collection, 1927-1972

The collection includes personal and political papers of U.S. Senator from Kentucky, John Sherman Cooper. Each of twelve series contains personal, political, and general papers within one or more subject files, including civil rights, coal mine safety, and labor legislation. Cooper, a Republican, was first elected to the Senate in a special election held in 1946 to fill an unexpired term. He held several additional elected and appointed positions.

Curlew LedgerCurlew Mines Ledger, 1859-1866

The Curlew Mines Ledger, Union County, Kentucky contains the daily transactions for the mine. In 1853, the Kentucky Coal Company was organized and opened a mine in Union County, Kentucky. The town that sprung up around the mine was named Curlew because of the large number of curlew birds that lived in the area. The mine operated until the start of the Civil War, during which it was destroyed by Union troops. It reopened in 1902 as the Bell Union and Coke Company. This ledger has been digitized and is available on ExploreUK.

Herndon J. Evans Herndon J. Evans Collection, 1929-1982

Herndon J. Evans, editor of the Pineville Sun in Bell County, Kentucky, closely followed labor unrest in the Kentucky coalfields, especially in Harlan and Bell Counties, during the early 1930s. The collection contains handbills, leaflets, pamphlets and newspaper clippings collected by Evans primarily from 1931-1933. Also included are handwritten notes, correspondence, and drafts of articles and editorials written by Evans as well as memorabilia such as Communist Party membership books and organizational charts. This collection was arranged and described as part of the Arranging and Describing Archives Related to Appalachian History and Culture, a "We the People" NEH grant. This collection has been digitized and is available on ExploreUK.

Herndon Evans photographs

Herndon Evans Photographs, 1931

The Herndon Evans photograph collection consists of 39 gelatin silver prints of miners and mining towns in Harlan County and Pineville, KY from 1931. Included are photographs of protest marches, visiting authors and ministers, and the National Guard. This collection has been digitized and is available on ExploreUK.

Harkins Harkins Family Papers, 1860-1954

Walter S. Harkins, Sr. (1857-1920) was a lawyer and entrepreneur active during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in Floyd County, Kentucky. By the 1920s his sons, Walter S. Harkins, Jr. (1898-1936) and Joseph Davidson Harkins were practicing in the Harkins law firm and also participating in the development of coal and gas in eastern Kentucky. Materials primarily include business papers, including a large amount of the correspondence and case files relating to legal cases handled by the Harkins and Harkins law firm. This collection was arranged and described as part of the Arranging and Describing Archives Related to Appalachian History and Culture, a "We the People" NEH grant, and was digitized as part of the NEH-funded Coal, Camps, and Railroads grant.

A crowd of miners in the bed of a truck, under guard, 1939Harlan County Mine Strike Photographic Collection, 1939

In 1939, a general strike was in effect in Harlan County, Kentucky, and all mining operations among the numerous coal companies were shut down. On May 15th, 1939, some 900 Kentucky National Guard was ordered to intervene between striking miners and mine operators. The National Guard contingent was viewed by some as a peace-keeping force and by others as a move to break the strike. The collection consists of twenty-two black and white sliver prints. This collection has been digitized and is available on ExploreUK

Harlan County, U.S.A. Collection, 1972-1976

This collection contains over 1500 reels of film, production logs, and notebooks produced during the making of the 1976 Academy Award-winning documentary, Harlan County, U.S.A. The film was produced and directed by Barbara Kopple, an independent filmmaker. In July 1973, the miners at the Eastover Mining Company in Brookside, Ky. went out on strike when the company, a subsidiary of Duke Power, refused to recognize this UMW contract. Barbara Kopple and her crew went to Harlan County to document the strike and stayed until the Brookside miners won their fight -- thirteen months later. After the Brookside strike, Kopple continued to film events in the Appalachian coalfields, in particular the 1974 general contract strike.

James M. Klee field books, 1905-1919

The James M. Klee field books consist of five field books belonging to James M. Klee, a mining engineer. The figures and sketches in the field books concern coal mines in southern Indiana and Kentucky.

The Jenkins, Kentucky Photographic Collection, 1911-1930

The Jenkins, Kentucky Photographic Collection, 1911-1930 is a visual history of the coal-mining community. Originally photographed for Consolidation Coal Company, the 204 images document life in Jenkins from 1911 to 1913. This collection has been digitized and is available on ExploreUK.

The Kentucky Union Land Company records, 1791-1935, bulk 1880-1899

The Kentucky Union Land Company (KULC) was a subsidiary of the Kentucky Union Railway Company and was responsible primarily for conducting surveys, purchasing lands through which the railway would run, and securing the right of way for the railway. The Kentucky Union Railway line eventually crossed over 500,000 acres of valuable coal, iron, and timber lands, lying mostly in the eastern Kentucky counties of Breathitt, Perry, and Letcher. This collection has been digitized as part of the NEH-funded Coal, Camps, & Railroads grant and is available on ExploreUK.

Charles E. Lowther mining material, 1920-1977

The materials of this collection include legal agreements between coal operators and labor and other mining material.  

Marks Coal Company records, 1907-1908

These are minutes and financial records of the Marks Coal Company located in Webster County, Ky. There are three volumes in the collection, one of which contains minutes of board of directors' meetings, another which contains minutes of stockholders' meetings and copies of the company's articles of incorporation and bylaws, and the last, which is a company checkbook. 

Sherrill Martin papers, 1937-1954, undated

The Sherrill Martin papers (1937-1954, undated; .63 cubic feet, 2 boxes) primarily comprise Carrs Fork Coal Company newsletters (1940-1945) containing line-drawing illustrations by Martin accompanying articles and letter-format lectures on mine safety by general superintent P.A. Grady. This collection was arranged and described as part of the Arranging and Describing Archives Related to Appalachian History and Culture, a "We the People" NEH grant. It was digitized as part of the NEH-funded Coal, Camps, and Railroads grant and is available on ExploreUK.

Henry Clay McDowell papers, 1827-1899

The Henry Clay McDowell papers (part of the Henry Clay Memorial Foundation records), include correspondence and legal and financial records that document McDowell’s development of the Big Stone Gap, Wise County, Virginia, and the Kentucky Union Land Company, the parent company of the Kentucky Union Railroad. The papers have been digitized as part of the NEH-funded Coal, Camps, & Railroads grant and is available on ExploreUK.

Thruston B. Morton Papers, Bulk, 1957-1961

These papers contain the office files of Thruston B. Morton for the years he served in the U.S. Senate and as Chairman of the Republican National Committee. The papers are primarily composed of correspondence divided into subgroups and series, including county constituency files, Kentucky miscellaneous, political (RNC series), letters from VIP's, a federal agency constituent file, a legislative file, files devoted to agriculture and public works. Also present are photographs, political cartoons and oral histories about Morton with his relatives, staff and fellow Senators.

Louis Edward Nollau F Series Photographic Print Collection, circa 1885-1966

Professor of Engineering Drawing at the University of Kentucky for 49 years, Louis Edward Nollau was also a prolific photographer. Because of his interest in photography and the college, Nollau was the first "official" campus photographer. Search for keywords such as "coal," "Appalachia," and "mine." This collection has been digitized and is available on ExploreUK.

Charles J. Norwood papers, 1861-1918

The Charles J. Norwood papers contain notes, writings, scrapbooks, and photographs related to Norwood's work in the field of geology, 1861-1918.

Va. Iron, Coal & Coke Co., Middlesboro, KyPostcard Collection, circa 1890-1990

The Postcard Collection at the University of Kentucky's Special Collections consists of over 50,000 postcards published between 1890-1990, representing several publishing eras and dozens of subjects, states and countries, and postcard publishers and manufacturers. Search for keywords such as "coal," "Appalachia," and "mine." This collection has been digitized and is available on ExploreUK.

The Scotian Women Collection, 1970-1981

The Scotian Women, a play written by Kentucky author Lee Pennington, was inspired by the events of the Scotia Mine Disaster which occurred at Oven Fork, Kentucky in 1976. This collection documents the creation of the play and contains newspaper clippings, notes, various drafts and a final copy of the script, as well as promotional materials from the University of Kentucky's Guignol Theater production in February 1981. This collection was arranged and described as part of the Arranging and Describing Archives Related to Appalachian History and Culture, a "We the People" NEH grant.

Stearns Coal Strike information files, 1975-1984

This collection consists of information on the Stearns Coal Strike in McCreary County, Ky. from July, 1976 to May, 1979. Materials include news articles about the history of the Stearns Coal Company and the Justus Mine in local, regional and national publications. Also present are handbills, posters and other items relating to the strike. Information is provided on the Blue Diamond Coal Company as well as its subsidiary, the Stearns Mining Company.

Everette Tharp Collection, 1958-1976

Everette Tharp served as Recording Secretary to the Appalachian Committee for Full Employment (ACFE), one of the first groups to apply for Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO) funds. Tharp and the ACFE were eventually involved in a political struggle over who would control the (Letcher Knott Leslie Perry) LKLP Community Action Council. This collection was arranged and described as part of the Arranging and Describing Archives Related to Appalachian History and Culture, a "We the People" NEH grant.

George J. Titler Collection, 1939-1976

George J. Titler is perhaps best known as the author of Hell in Harlan, an account of his union organizing days in Harlan County, Kentucky in the late 1930's. But Titler also served as Vice-President of the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) from 1966-1972. It was during his term, and that of President Tony Boyle, that many UMWA miners began challenging the union management. This collection was arranged and described as part of the Arranging and Describing Archives Related to Appalachian History and Culture, a "We the People" NEH grant.

Cyrenius Wait Papers, 1830-1859

Massachusetts born Cyrenius Wait (1794-1868) was a businessman, politician, and farmer, who came to Kentucky in 1818 and acquired extensive land holdings in Pulaski County. He became a successful businessman with interests in coal mining, farming, and mercantile ventures as well as unusual enterprises such as salt making and silk production.

The University of Kentucky Public Information Audio Collection, 1954-1966

WBKY established itself at 91.3 in the new FM band in 1947 making it the first FM college radio station in the United States. The broadcast facilities and transmitter were located in McVey Hall on the University of Kentucky's main campus. This collection contains several audio recordings related to the coal industry, including interviews and news clips.

WAVE Audio Tape Collection, 1950-1974

WAVE Radio first broadcast in 1933 from Louisville, KY with a 5 watt directional antenna. It was owned by George Norton who purchased Hopkinsville radio station WFIW, moved it to the top of the Brown Hotel in downtown Louisville and went on the air as a CBS affiliate with a 1,000 watt transmitter. WAVE went off the air in 1981. Several recordings in the collection touch upon the coal industry.

Wheelwright Collection, 1916-1979

Wheelwright, located in eastern Kentucky's Floyd County, is a town created by the coal industry. This collection contains records from three of the companies that owned Wheelwright: Inland Steel, Island Creek, and Mountain Investment. This collection was arranged and described as part of the Arranging and Describing Archives Related to Appalachian History and Culture, a "We the People" NEH grant. It will soon be digitized as part of the NEH-funded Coal, Camps, & Railroads grant

Russell Lee: Wheelwright, KY Photographic Collection, 1946

This collection consists of 65 black and white 8X10 photographs. The content of the photographs included citizens of Wheelwright, Kentucky and the local coal mining industry. The pictures were taken within a short period of time during the mid-1940s. This collection has been digitized and is available on ExploreUK.