CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The Paint Creek-Cabin Creek Strike of 1912-13 was one of the most dramatic and bloody conflicts in the early 20th century labor struggles in southern West Virginia known as the Mine Wars. To commemorate this 100-year anniversary, the Archives and History Library of the West Virginia Division of Culture and History will present a discussion forum at 1 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 22, at the Culture Center, State Capitol Complex in Charleston. The two-hour program is free and open to the public.
Historians Ken Bailey and Fred Barkey will join Charleston Gazette investigative reporter Paul Nyden to explain and explore this important event in West Virginia’s history. The strike began April 18, 1912, when coal operators on Paint Creek rejected the demands of their unionized workers for a raise. As the strike spread to nearby Cabin Creek, the dispute focused increasingly on the larger issue of unionization.
During the year-long strike, Gov. William Glasscock imposed martial law, enforced by the West Virginia National Guard, on the district three times. More than 200 miners and their allies, including the 86-year-old labor activist Mother Jones, were arrested. The strike also included the use of the Bull Moose Special, a machine-gun-equipped and armored train that fired into a tent camp of striking miners and their families. The strike drew national attention and eventually resulted in a U.S. Senate investigation into conditions in the area.
Bailey is a graduate of West Virginia Institute of Technology (now WVU Tech), Marshall University and The Ohio State University where he received his doctoral degree. He is retired dean of the College of Business, Humanities and Sciences and emeritus professor of history and geography at WVU Tech. He is the author of numerous articles and books including Mountaineers are Free: A History of the West Virginia National Guard (1979, revised and expanded 2008).
Barkey received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Marshall University and his Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh with a concentration in U.S. labor history. An emeritus professor at West Virginia Graduate College, he also taught history at the University of Charleston and the Institute for Labor Studies at WVU. Barkey is the author of several articles and books including Working Class Radicals: The Socialist Party in West Virginia, 1898-1920. (2012).
Nyden has been a reporter for the Charleston Gazette for more than 30 years and has won many awards including the George Polk Award and three first-place reporting awards from the Society of Professional Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors. He received his Ph.D. from Columbia University with the dissertation “Miners for Democracy: Struggle in the Coalfields.”
For planning purposes, participants are encouraged to register for the program, but advance registration is not required to attend. To register in advance, contact Robert Taylor, library manager, by e-mail at [email protected] or at (304) 558-0230, ext. 163. Participants interested in registering by e-mail should send their name, telephone number and the name and date of the session. For additional information, contact Bryan Ward, assistant director of Archives, at (304) 558-0230, ext. 723.
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.
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