Eastern European Immigration in Appalachian Industry


This Pathfinder is meant to serve as a starting point for persons doing library research on Eastern European immigration to Appalachia with special regard to the place of immigrants in Appalachian industry. The Eastern European countries that were examined for the purposes of this Pathfinder include the following: Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, Serbia, Bulgaria, Albania, Yugoslavia, Slovakia, Croatia, Bosnia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovenia, and Macedonia. Of the countries initially examined, some proved more relevant to the Appalachian region than others and these countries are the basis of the Pathfinder information presented here. The countries most relevant to Appalachia include Hungary, Lithuania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Serbia, Romania, and Bulgaria.

Introductory Text: 

Because the body of available literature concerning Eastern European immigration to Appalachia is focused almost exclusively on the immigrant role in the coal, steel, iron, and textile industries, the following work provides an appropriate introduction to the topic of Eastern European immigration to Appalachia:

Immigrants in Industries. United States Immigration Commission. Vol. 7 Washington D.C.: Government Print Office, 1911. Appalachian Collection call number: HD8083.A137 D4

Library of Congress Subject Headings: 

There are several Library of Congress subject headings that can be applied to research on Eastern European immigration to Appalachian industry. Some of the most relevant subject headings are as follows:

Highly relevant:

Anthracite coal industry

Appalachian Region—Immigrants

Coal miners—Pennsylvania

Bulgarian Americans

Hungarian Americans

Lithuanian Americans

Romanian Americans

Serbian Americans

Slovak Americans

Slovene Americans

Also relevant:

Immigrants—United States

Appalachian Region

More general:

Europe, Eastern

Appalachian Region—History

Clipping Files Subject Headings – W. L. Eury Appalachian Collection: 

The Appalachian Collection Clippings file headings that most closely match this topic: “Coal Mines and Mining,” “Industry,” and “Iron.”

Library of Congress Call Numbers: 

The Library of Congress call numbers associated with the above topics are listed below:

E184.H95 L4

E184.H95 S86

E184.R8 R2

E184.R8 W47

E184.L7 K66 1999a




Because the bulk of Eastern European immigrants to Appalachia settled in the anthracite coal communities of Pennsylvania’s Appalachian counties, the works most often mentioned in connection with their immigration are about the anthracite coal region.

Salay, David L., ed. Hard Coal, Hard Times: Ethnicity and Labor in the Anthracite Region. Scranton: Anthracite Museum Press, 1984. Appalachian Collection call number: HD8039.M62 U633 1984

Beik, Mildred Allen. The Miners of Windber: the Struggles of New Immigrants for Unionization 1890s—1930s. University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1996. Appalachian Collection call number: HD8039.M62 U6143 1996

Roberts, Peter. Anthracite Coal Communities. New York: Arno Press:1970. Belk Library call number: HD8039.M62U65 1970

Guides, Encyclopedias, and Dictionaries: 

For each of the following encyclopedias, the most relevant entries are listed with the encyclopedia in which they are found. Each entry details the basic immigration information for the ethnic group listed, including where concentrations of that group are found, and what types of work was most frequently done by each immigrant group. The entries listed below are especially helpful to persons examining the role of Eastern European immigrants as workers in the American coal, steel, and textile industries.

Encyclopedia of Appalachia. Ruby Abramson and Jean Haskell, ed. Knoxville, TN: University of Tennessee Press 2006 ASU Special Appalachian Collection call number: F106.E53 2006

“Hungarians” (p. 177, 262-63)

“Immigrants to Appalachia” (p. 244)

“in the carpet industry” (p. 564)
“in the glass industry” (p. 571)
“in the iron and steel industry” (p. 494)
“as workers in coal mining” (p. 240, 254-55, 258-59, 262, 267-68, 271-72, 452, 559, 574-75)

“Slovak Immigrants” (p. 1080)

Harvard Encyclopedia of American Ethnic Groups. Stephan Thernstrom, ed. Cambridge, Mass: Belknap Press, 1980. Belk Library call number: E184.A1 H35

“Bulgarians” (p. 186-89)

“Hungarians” (p. 462-71)

“Lithuanians” (p. 665-76)

“Romanians” (p. 879-85)

“Serbians” (p. 916-26)

“Slovaks” (p.926-34)

“Slovenes” (p. 934-35)

Gale Encyclopedia of Multicultural America. 2 Vols. Judy Galens et al., eds. Detroit: Gale Research, 1995.

Belk Library call number: E184.A1 G14 1995

“Bulgarian Americans” (p. 208-23)

“Hungarian Americans” (p. 692-709)

“Lithuanian Americans” (p. 881-94)

“Romanian Americans” (p. 1144-58)

“Serbian Americans” (p. 1211-65)

“Slovak Americans” (p. 1243-55)

“Slovenian Americans” (p. 1256-69)


Unfortunately, definitive bibliographies limited to Eastern European immigration to Appalachia do not exist. These bibliographies of immigration in general may prove helpful, however, if the researcher examines topics relating to immigration from the specific countries to Appalachia.

Janeway, William Ralph. Bibliography of Immigration in the United States 1900-1930. Columbus, Ohio: H.L. Henrick, 1934. Belk Library call number: Z7164.I3 J3 1972

Hogland, A. William. Immigrants and Their Children in the United States: a Bibliography of Doctoral Dissertations 1885-1982. New York: Garland Publishing, 1986. Belk Library call number: Z7164.I3 H63 1986

Parkinson, George. The Oral History Project of Coal Mine Workers in America

Bibliography of Southern Appalachia. Appalachian Special Collection Z1251.A7 B4

Abstracts and Indices: 

Anthropological Literature, 19th Century to Present (Updated Quarterly). Available through Appalachian State University library database and is provided by Tozzer Library, Harvard University. Gives citation for articles and essays in more than 1,000 journals and monographic series.

Sociological Abstracts, 1952 to Present (Updated Monthly). Available through Appalachian State University library database and is published by CSA Illumina. Further information can be found at www.csa.com. Provides access to journals articles and abstracts from over 1800 serial publications and abstracts of books, book chapters, dissertations and conference papers.

Other Sources: 


An excellent collection of images featuring the following immigrant groups in the Appalachian region is available from the Gale Encyclopedia of Multicultural America (see above citation):

“Bulgarian Americans”

“Hungarian Americans”

“Lithuanian Americans”

“Romanian Americans”

“Serbian Americans”

“Slovak Americans”

“Slovenian Americans”

Additional images of Eastern European immigrants in industry are found in the following:

Bartoletti, Susan Campbell. Growing Up in Coal Country. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1996.

Various photos in this photo collection show coal camp life and roles immigrants held in the coal industry:

Appalachia High School, McKnight, Brian Dallas, et al. Life in the Coal Camps of Wise County.

[Big Stone Gap, Va.]: Lonesome Pine Office on Youth, c2006

Compiled by: 

Erin Elizabeth Casto

Date of compilation: 12/10/2002

Updated by: 

Joshua Roe

Date of update: 10/02/2011