Local Elite

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 National Miners Union 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.

Look at the documents (at the bottom of this page), which include: testimony from Harlan Miners Speak; a photograph of the Kentucky State Police with the National Guard; a map of the Eastern Kentucky coalfields; and letters and broadsides (today we might call these posters or fliers).  Begin to analyze them by answering these questions:

  1. Who are the narrators (authors) of your documents and in what context are they speaking or writing?
  2. What points of view are being expressed in the materials under review?
  3. How do these sources add to your understanding of the strike?
  4. Select one document that illustrates how the elite of Bell and Harlan counties exerted its influence at the local or national level and attempted to control the outcome of the strike.  Describe your document and then critically assess its content by explaining how power functioned to undermine the strikers.  

Dwight Billings, Professor of Sociology and Appalachian Studies, and Kate Black, Curator of the Appalachian Collection, discuss how the elite of Bell and Harlan counties participated in the strike. Note that Kate is wearing gloves to handle photographs in the collection. Gloves protect photographs from finger prints and oils on the hands that may cause harm over time.

 

Photo of Herndon Evans courtesy of the Kentucky Historical Society, accession number KNU-1987PH2-2343

 

Herndon J. Evans Collection, 1929-1982, 82M1; Box 2, Folder 2; Special Collections, University of Kentucky Libraries, Lexington

 

Herndon J. Evans Photograph Collection, 1929-1982, PA82av1; Box 1, Item 2; Special Collections, University of Kentucky Libraries, Lexington

 

 

Map of  Eastern Coalfields of Kentucky, 1927 (click to enlarge)                                                                                                                           Kentucky accession no. 190, Science Library, University of Kentucky.

 

Herndon J. Evans Collection, 1929-1982, 82M1; Box 1, Folder 3; Special Collections, University of Kentucky Libraries, Lexington

 

Herndon J. Evans Collection, 1929-1982, 82M1; Box 2, Folder 2; Special Collections, University of Kentucky Libraries, Lexington

 

Herndon J. Evans Collection, 1929-1982, 82M1; Box 2, Folder 2; Special Collections, University of Kentucky Libraries, Lexington

 

Herndon J. Evans Collection, 1929-1982, 82M1; Box 2, Folder 2; Special Collections, University of Kentucky Libraries, Lexington

X
Enter your linkblue username.
Enter your linkblue password.
Secure Login

This login is SSL protected

Loading