West Virginia University Press

West Virginia and Appalachia

Ronald L. Lewis, Ken Fones-Wolf, Kevin Barksdale

Published by: West Virginia University Press

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West Virginia and Appalachia

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An Appalachian New Deal

WEST VIRGINIA IN THE GREAT DEPRESSION

Jerry Bruce Thomas

In this paperback edition of An Appalachian New Deal: West Virginia in the Great Depression, Jerry Bruce Thomas examines the economic and social conditions of the state of West Virginia before, during, and after the Great Depression. Thomas’s exploration of personal papers by leading political and social figures, newspapers, and the published and unpublished records of federal, state, local, and private agencies, traces a region’s response to an economic depression and a presidential stimulus program. This dissection of federal and state policies implemented under Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal program reveals the impact of poverty upon political, gender, race, and familial relations within the Mountain State—and the entire country. Through An Appalachian New Deal, Thomas documents the stories of ordinary citizens who survived a period of economic crisis and echoes a message from our nation’s past to a new generation enduring financial hardship and uncertainty.

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An Appalachian Reawakening

West Virginia and the Perils of the New Machine Age, 1945-1972

Jerry Bruce Thomas

As the long boom of post-World War II economic expansion spread across the globe, dreams of white picket fences, democratic ideals, and endless opportunities flourished within the United States. Middle America experienced a period of affluent stability built upon a modern age of industrialization. Yet for the people of Appalachia, this new era brought economic, social, and environmental devastation, preventing many from realizing the American Dream. Some families suffered in silence; some joined a mass exodus from the mountains; while others, trapped by unemployment, poverty, illness, and injury became dependent upon welfare. As the one state most completely Appalachian, West Virginia symbolized the region's dilemma, even as it provided much of the labor and natural resources that fueled the nation's prosperity.

An Appalachian Reawakening: West Virginia and the Perils of the New Machine Age, 1945-1972 recounts the difficulties the state of West Virginia faced during the post-World War II period. While documenting this turmoil, this valuable analysis also traces the efforts of the New Frontier and Great Society programs, which stimulated maximum feasible participation and lead to the ultimate rise of grass roots activities and organizations that improved life and labor in the region and undermined the notion of Appalachian fatalism.

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Bringing Down the Mountains

The Impact of Mountaintop Removal on Southern West Virginia Communities

Shirley Stewart Burns

Coal is West Virginia’s bread and butter. For more than a century, West Virginia has answered the energy call of the nation—and the world—by mining and exporting its coal. In 2004, West Virginia’s coal industry provided almost forty thousand jobs directly related to coal, and it contributed $3.5 billion to the state’s gross annual product. And in the same year, West Virginia led the nation in coal exports, shipping over 50 million tons of coal to twenty-three countries. Coal has made millionaires of some and paupers of many. For generations of honest, hard-working West Virginians, coal has put food on tables, built homes, and sent students to college. But coal has also maimed, debilitated, and killed. Bringing Down the Mountains provides insight into how mountaintop removal has affected the people and the land of southern West Virginia. It examines the mechanization of the mining industry and the power relationships between coal interests, politicians, and the average citizen.

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Culture, Class, and Politics in Modern Appalachia

Essays in Honor of Ronald L. Lewis

Edited by Jennifer Egolf, Ken Fones-Wolf, and Louis C. Martin

Culture, Class, and Politics in Modern Appalachia takes stock of the field of Appalachian studies as it explores issues still at the center of its scholarship: culture, industrialization, the labor movement, and twentieth-century economic and political failure and their social impact. A new generation of scholars continues the work of Appalachian studies’ pioneers, exploring the diversity and complexity of the region and its people. Labor migrations from around the world transformed the region during its critical period of economic growth. Collective struggles over occupational health and safety, the environment, equal rights, and civil rights challenged longstanding stereotypes. Investigations of political and economic power and the role of social actors and social movements in Appalachian history add to the foundational work that demonstrates a dynamic and diverse region.

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Governor William E. Glasscock and Progressive Politics in West Virginia

Gary Jackson Tucker

From 1909 to 1913, Governor William Glasscock served the state of West Virginia as an ardent progressive and reformer. In his inaugural address he proclaimed government "the machinery invoked and devised by man for his benefit and protection” and good government the guarantor of the happiness, prosperity, success, and welfare of the people. Governor William Glasscock and Progressive Politics in West Virginia recounts the life and work of West Virginia’s thirteenth governor. Born during the Civil War, Glasscock witnessed a country torn by sectional, fratricidal war become a powerful industrial nation by the turn of the twentieth century. Author Gary Jackson Tucker demonstrates how Glasscock, along with others during the Progressive Era, railed against large and powerful political and economic machines to enact legislation protecting free and fair elections, just taxation, regulation of public utilities, and workmen’s compensation laws. Never hesitating to use the power of the state to stand firm against racism and mob rule, and placing his own personal safety in jeopardy, Glasscock won the praise and admiration of average people. Glasscock’s four years in office took his own health and financial security from him, but left behind a better government—a good government—for the people of West Virginia.

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Matewan Before the Massacre

"POLITICS, COAL AND THE ROOTS OF CONFLICT IN A WEST VIRGINIA MINING COMMUNITY"

Rebecca J. Bailey

On May 19, 1920, gunshots rang through the streets of Matewan, West Virginia, in an event soon known as the “Matewan Massacre.” Most historians of West Virginia and Appalachia see this event as the beginning of a long series of tribulations known as the second Mine Wars. But was it instead the culmination of an even longer series of proceedings that unfolded in Mingo County, dating back at least to the Civil War? Matewan Before the Massacre provides the first comprehensive history of the area, beginning in the late eighteenth century continuing up to the Massacre. It covers the relevant economic history, including the development of the coal mine industry and the struggles over land ownership; labor history, including early efforts of unionization; transportation history, including the role of the N&W Railroad; political history, including the role of political factions in the county’s two major communities—Matewan and Williamson; and the impact of the state’s governors and legislatures on Mingo County.

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Sectionalism in West Virginia from 1776-1861

Charles H. Ambler with a new introduction by Barbara Rasmussen

West Virginia statehood was long in the making and its start in politics driven by economic interests, not abolition. Dr. Ambler’s 1910 study of sectionalism in Virginia clearly shows how the East and West of Virginia were always destined to separate. First published in 1910, Ambler’s masterpiece and West Virginia’s first foundation history, has long been out of print. Barbara Rasmussen, professor of public history and director of Cultural Resource Management at West Virginia University, does all West Virginians and historians of American history a truly great service by writing a new introduction to Sectionalism in Virginia, setting Ambler’s grand achievement into the context of its production. “By pointing to the economic and political basis for the differences in Virginia, Professor Ambler created a historical process for studying West Virginia history that asked clearer questions and shunned cultural biases.” —from the Introduction by Barbara Rasmussen.

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They'll Cut Off Your Project

A Mingo County Chronicle

Huey Perry, with a foreword by Jeff Biggers

In old England, if a king didn’t like you, he would cut off your head. Now, if they don’t like you, they’ll cut off your project!

As the Johnson Administration initiated its war on poverty in the 1960s, the Mingo County Economic Opportunity Commission project was established in southern West Virginia. Huey Perry, a young, local history teacher was named the director of this program and soon he began to promote self-sufficiency among low-income and vulnerable populations. As the poor of Mingo County worked together to improve conditions, the local political infrastructure felt threatened by a shift in power. Bloody Mingo County, known for its violent labor movements, corrupt government, and the infamous Hatfield-McCoy rivalry, met Perry’s revolution with opposition and resistance. 

In They’ll Cut Off Your Project, Huey Perry reveals his efforts to help the poor of an Appalachian community challenge a local regime. He describes this community’s attempts to improve school programs and conditions, establish cooperative grocery stores to bypass inflated prices, and expose electoral fraud. Along the way, Perry unfolds the local authority’s hostile backlash to such change and the extreme measures that led to an eventual investigation by the FBI. They’ll Cut Off Your Project chronicles the triumphs and failures of the war on poverty, illustrating why and how a local government that purports to work for the public’s welfare cuts off a project for social reform.

 

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Working Class Radicals

The Socialist Party in West Virginia, 1898-1920

Frederick A. Barkey

Working Class Radicals: The Socialist Party in West Virginia, 1898-1920 examines the rise and fall of organized socialism in West Virginia through an exploration of the demographics of membership, oral interview material gathered in the 1960s from party members, and the collapse of the party in the wake of the Paint Creek-Cabin Creek coal-mining strike of 1912. The first local branch of the West Virginia Socialist Party was established in Wheeling in 1901 and by 1914 several thousand West Virginians were dues-paying members of local branches. By 1910 local Socialists began to elect candidates to office and in 1912 more than 15,000 West Virginian voters cast their ballots for Socialist presidential candidate Eugene Debs. The progress that West Virginia socialists achieved on the electoral front was a reflection of the party’s strategy of increasing class-consciousness by working with existing unions to build the power of the labor movement. The party appealed to a fairly broad cross section of wage earners and its steady growth also owed much to the fact that many members of the middle class were attracted to the cause. Several factors combined to send the party into rapid decline, most importantly deep fissures between class and craft factions of the party and 1915 legislation making third party political participation difficult. Working Class Radicals offers insight into the various internal and external forces that doomed the party and serves as a cautionary tale to contemporary political leaders and organizers.

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