February 23, 2911
The West Virginia Archives and History Library of the West Virginia Division of Culture and History will continue its series of after hours lectures on Tuesday, March 1, from 6 - 7:30 p.m. The session, entitled “The Forgotten Battles of the Mine Wars: The Fairmont Field,” will be conducted by Dr. Michael Workman, assistant professor of history at West Virginia State University (WVSU). The program 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 guests and participants only.
“Coal was nearly as important to the economy of the Monongahela Valley in north-central West Virginia as it was to the southern part of the state,” says Workman. However, unlike southern West Virginia, the Fairmont coal field was developed by indigenous capitalists, especially the Watson family of Fairmont. The Watsons were coal barons, controlling coal production through Fairmont Coal Company and its successor, the Consolidation Coal Company, which became the largest bituminous coal producer in the world during the late 1920s.
Workman will provide an illustrated presentation on the clash of Fairmont Field coal companies against the United Mine Workers of America during the 1920s. While there were no large-scale, dramatic confrontations like the Battle of Blair Mountain, this conflict in the northern part of the state lasted longer (1924-1933) and had a greater impact on national developments than did events in southern West Virginia, according to Workman.
An underground coal miner in Kanawha, Raleigh, Boone and Logan counties during the 1970s and early 1980s, Workman then attended West Virginia University where he earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and a master’s and Ph.D. in history. He was a historian for the Institute for the History of Technology and Industrial Archaeology at WVU for several years before joining WVSU in 2010. Workman has written and published numerous manuscripts on labor, industrial and West Virginia history. His latest is a study of the Civil War as it impacted Parkersburg and the Mid-Ohio Valley.
Advance registration for the workshop is not required, but is encouraged to help plan seating arrangements and ensure plenty of supplies and handouts, if provided, are available.
To register in advance, contact Robert Taylor, library manager, 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 workshop, contact the Archives and History Library at (304) 558-0230.
The next session will feature Lloyd Lucas discussing “An Introduction to the Railroad History of West Virginia” on Tuesday, April 5.
The Archives and History Library is open from 9 a.m. to 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 is an agency within the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts with Kay Goodwin, Cabinet Secretary. The Division, led by Commissioner Randall Reid-Smith, brings together the past, present and future through programs and services focusing on archives and history, arts, historic preservation and museums. For more information about the Division’s programs, events and sites, visit www.wvculture.org. The Division of Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.