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“For a first-rate, accessible study of a time and place that played an important role in American economic and social history, look no further.” – School Library Journal, starred review
Describes what life was like, especially for children, in coal mines and mining towns in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
With compelling black-and-white photographs of children at work in the coal mines of northeastern Pennsylvania about 100 years ago, this handsome, spacious photo-essay will draw browsers as well as students doing research on labor and immigrant history. The story of these boys' lives are a part of Russell Freedman's general overview Kids at Work (1994) and of Betsy Harvey Kraft's biography Mother Jones (1995); but there's a wealth of personal detail and family story here that focuses on what it was like in the mines and in the homes and communities of these working children. Lewis Hines' famous pictures will grab readers, and Bartoletti has also gathered dozens of archival photos and heartbreaking oral histories. They show what it was like for eight-year-old breaker boys sorting coal surrounded by deafening noise and black clouds of dust, steam, and smoke; what it was like to be a mule driver underground; what it meant to be a spragger, a butty, a nipper. Drawing on personal interviews, archival tapes and transcripts, and a wide range of historical resources, Bartoletti finds heartfelt memories of long hours, hard labor, and extremely dangerous working conditions, as well as lighter accounts of spirited rebellion, mischief, and bonding. The immigrant experience is an integral part of this "coal culture": the strength of ethnic groups and the prejudice against them, and their banding together to form strong labor unions. As with most fine juvenile nonfiction, this will also have great appeal for adults.
Booklist, ALA, Starred Review
Bartoletti uses oral history, archival documents, and an abundance of black-and-white photographs to make turn-of-the-century mining life a surprisingly compelling subject for today's young people.
School Library Journal, Starred
Posted July 3, 2002
After completing for the second time a tour of the Lackawanna Mine near Scranton, PA, and visiting the adjacent Pennsylvania Anthracite Heritage Museum where I purchased this book, I find the text to be extremely well written, illuminating, and easy to read. I recommend it highly to anyone interested in the history of anthracite mining or the ethnic diversity of the anthracite region.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 23, 2000