March 24, 2010
The Archives and History Library of the West Virginia Division of Culture and History will present its next after hours lecture on Tuesday, April 6, from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. The program is entitled “The Combat Scenario: Early West Virginia Coal Mining’s Culture of Danger,” and will be led by Dr. Paul Rakes, associate professor of history at WVU Institute of Technology. The lecture will take place in the library at the Culture Center, State Capitol Complex in Charleston. All sessions are free and the public is invited to attend. The library will close at 5 p.m., and reopen at 5:45 p.m., for lecture participants only.
Rakes will discuss how West Virginia coal miners died in unprecedented numbers in the late-19th and early-20th centuries. He will address the danger that became an integral component of the mining experience and influenced official acceptance of the high death rate. Rakes will compare the early West Virginia coal industry with 19th century battlefields and consider the “combat mentality” which became ingrained in the subculture of the underground mining world.
Born in a West Virginia coal camp, Rakes, a third generation miner, worked 20 years in the coal industry before acquiring his master’s degree in history at Marshall University. He earned his Ph.D. at West Virginia University, specializing in Appalachian history and concentrating on coal politics, technology, and disasters in West Virginia. His research produced the dissertation “Acceptable Casualties: Power, Culture, and Disaster History in the West Virginia Coalfields, 1900-1945.”
Rakes is the author of several short articles in scholarly journals, including “Technology in Transition: The Dilemmas of Early Twentieth-Century Coal Mining” and “Casualties on the Homefront: Scotts Run Mine Disasters During World War II.” His current research has focused on everyday violence in the early coal camps and has produced the forthcoming co-authored essay “A Hard-bitten Lot: Non-strike Violence in the Early Southern West Virginia Smokeless Coalfields, 1880-1910” for the University of Kentucky Press’ volume The Riff-Raff of Civilization: Appalachians and Violence.
Registration is not required, but is requested to ensure proper seating. To register in advance, contact Robert Taylor, library manager for archives and history, at (304) 558-0230, ext. 163, or by e-mail at Bobby.L.Taylor@wv.gov. Participants interested in registering by e-mail should send their name, telephone number and the name and date of the session. For additional information about the lecture and workshop series, contact the Archives and History Library at (304) 558-0230.
The next session will focus on “The West Virginia Primary: The Election of 1960,” on Tuesday, May 4.
The Archives and History Library is open from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m., on Monday through Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, and 9 a.m., to 8 p.m., on Thursday. The library is closed on Sunday.
The West Virginia Division of Culture and History, an agency of the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts, brings together the state’s past, present and future through programs and services in the areas of archives and history, the arts, historic preservation and museums. Its administrative offices are located at the Culture Center in the State Capitol Complex in Charleston, which also houses the state archives and state museum. The Culture Center is West Virginia’s official showcase for the arts. The agency also operates a network of museums and historic sites across the state. For more information about the Division’s programs, visit www.wvculture.org. The Division of Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.