Skip to Content - Skip to Navigation

Coal Culture Lectures Offered in Conjunction with Museum Exhibition

Company houses in Clymer

A series of lectures and programs will be offered in conjunction with the exhibit “A Walk Through Time: Western Pennsylvania Coal Culture” at Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s University Museum.

Except for the presentations September 26, November 4, and November 18, all programs will be held in the University Museum, on the first floor of IUP’s Sutton Hall. The programs are free and open to the community. The schedule is as follows:

  • September 26, 2:00 to 4:00 p.m.: “Out of the Ground,” a lecture and documentary film by Andy McAllister, to be presented at the Indiana Theater, downtown Indiana. A descendant of immigrant coal miners, McAllister works as the watershed outreach coordinator for the Greensburg-based Western Pennsylvania Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation, a nonprofit organization serving twenty-four counties in the bituminous coal region of Western Pennsylvania.
  • October 14, 7:00 to 8:00 p.m.: “Life and Times in the Pennsylvanian Coal Swamp: The Origin of Pennsylvania’s Coal Deposits” by John Taylor. A native of Indiana, Taylor is a resident paleontologist and stratigrapher in the IUP Department of Geoscience. He was involved in collaborative research with the geology staff of the local Rochester & Pittsburgh Coal Company through the late 1980s and 1990s, and he has supervised numerous student research projects using the information in what is now the R&P archives collection at IUP.
  • October 21, 7:00 to 8:00 p.m.: “Pennsylvania’s Coal and Iron Police: Patch Town Law Enforcement,” presented by Spencer Sadler. Sadler is a local freelance writer and educator. He has collected stories and photos through traditional research and personal interviews, court documents, archived newspaper clippings, coal company records, journals, and other materials.
  • October 28, 7:00 to 8:00 p.m.: “I Sold My Soul to the Company Town: Company Control in the Coal Patches of Western Pennsylvania, 1910–1930” by Dr. Elizabeth Ricketts. An assistant professor of history at IUP, Ricketts teaches courses in labor and African-American and women’s history. Her research and publications focus on the social, labor, and political history of coal miners in Western Pennsylvania.
  • November 4, 7:00 to 8:00 p.m.: “Strike! Lessons Learned from the 1927–1928 Coal Strike at Rossiter” by Dr. Jim Dougherty. This program will be held in McVitty Auditorium, Sprowls Hall. An assistant professor of sociology and director of the IUP Center for Northern Appalachian Studies, Dougherty is producer of the film “The Struggle for an American Way of Life: Coal Miners and Operators in Central Pennsylvania, 1919–1933.” He has coordinated oral history projects in numerous mining communities throughout the region.
  • November 18, 7:00 to 8:00 p.m.: “Unions: Roots of the ‘Democratic Impulse’ in District 2, UMWA, 1919–1946” by Dr. Irwin Marcus. This program will be held in McVitty Auditorium, Sprowls Hall. Professor emeritus with IUP’s Department of History, Marcus created the university’s first courses in U.S. labor history, African-American history, and the history of protest movements. His research and publications focus on the history of Pennsylvania coal miners and steel workers, deindustrialization, and globalization.
  • December 5, 4:00 to 5:00 p.m.: “Researching Family History with Coal Culture Resources” by Rhonda Yeager. Assistant archivist in IUP’s Special Collections and University Archives, Yeager served as the Rochester & Pittsburgh Coal Company project archivist for 2006–2007 and continues to assist patrons with research for the collection. She has taught a course on “Introduction to Genealogy” for IUP Continuing Education and is the co-curator of the museum exhibition.

Registration for lectures is preferred but not required. To register or for information, contact Sally Daskivich at the College of Fine Arts at 724-357-2397 or sdaskivi@iup.edu.

The Pennsylvania Coal Culture exhibition will be available through December 5, 2009. Artifacts and documents of coal-mining life in Western Pennsylvania are presented jointly by IUP Special Collections and University Archives, the Tri-Area Historical Society and Liberty Museum in Nanty Glo, the Historical and Genealogical Society of Indiana County, and private collectors.

The exhibit features artifacts, photographs, mine maps, and ledgers that document Western Pennsylvania bituminous coal culture, including the work and lives of miners and their families, the company towns, and community activities such as baseball games.

The show also features photos and items that document the operations of Rochester & Pittsburgh Coal Company and other companies, mine disasters, coal miner strikes, and unionization.

Some of the company towns in Indiana and Cambria counties that are highlighted in the exhibit are Clymer, Commodore, Coral, Ernest, Heilwood, Iselin, Nanty Glo, Sagamore, and Whiskey Run.

IUP actively preserves coal culture through the Special Collections and University Archives; the Institute for Mine Mapping, Archival Procedures and Safety (IMAPS); and the Center for Northern Appalachian Studies.

The Rochester & Pittsburgh Coal Company collection is the largest manuscript grouping housed in the IUP Special Collections and University Archives. This collection represents more than one hundred years of local history. R&P was organized in 1881, and the collection is a complete record of the company until R&P was purchased by CONSOL Coal Group in 1998.

More information about the collection is available at the IUP Special Collections and University Archives website.

IMAPS is a multidisciplinary group of faculty, staff, and students who work together to digitize, record, and preserve historical mining maps.

IMAPS has digitized more than five hundred maps, including mining maps from the Rochester & Pittsburgh Coal Company, using a large format Cruse scanner. Institute personnel also are developing a Web-based searchable database of Pennsylvania mine maps. For more information, visit the IMAPS website.

The University Museum is free and open to the public on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday from 2:00 to 6:30 p.m., Thursday from noon to 7:30 p.m., and Saturday from noon to 4:00 p.m. More information is available on the museum website.