Role of Women in Coal Mining Labor Activism in Appalachia


This pathfinder had been constructed as a guide for anyone interested in learning more about the role of women in coal mining related labor related activism in Appalachia. The academic discourse on labor activism, particularly as it relates to labor in Appalachia, has been largely focused on men. While men certainly have played a significant role in activism, the contributions of women have been highly significant as well, and sorely overlooked. It is important to examine the roles that women have played in labor related activism because it informs us not only of their work, but of their relationship with the patriarchy, with men, and with other women, as well as their communities.

Introductory Text: 

The preface and introduction to the following text is useful as an introduction to the topic.

Moore, Marat. Women in the Mines: Stories of Life and Work.New York: Twayne Publishers. ASU APP COLL STACKS: HD6073. M6152 U65 1996, pp15-23 and 25-51.

Library of Congress Subject Headings: 

Highly Relevant:

Coal miners’ Spouses

Coal Miners, Harlan County, KY., 1973

Coal Strike

Coal Miners’ Strike, Kentucky, 1973-1974

Strikes and Lockouts—Coal Mining

Women Coal Miners—Appalachian region—History

Women in the Labor Movement

Women Labor Leaders

Also Relevant:

Coal Mine Accidents—Kentucky

Coal Miner—Kentucky—Harlan County

Coal Strike, Harlan County, KY., 1975

Dickens, Hazel

Folk Music—United States

Folk Music—West Virginia—Biography

Gunning, Sarah Ogan

Horizon Series

Jackson, Aunt Molly

Jones, Mother

Mine Explosions--Kentucky

National Public Radio (US) Educational Services Department

Reece, Florence

Scotia Mine Disaster, Oven Fork, Kentucky, 1976

Strikes and Lockouts—Coal Mining—Kentucky—Harlan County

United Mine Workers of America



Women in Politics

Women Political Activists

Appalachian (People)—Women

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

Coal—Miners—Diseases & Hygiene

Coal Miners

Coal Mines & Mining

Coal Mining & Mining Accidents

Coal Mining Strikes

Coal Miners—Women

Labor Negotiations


Labor—UMWA—Strikes—Brookside—Citizens’ Inquiry

Labor Unions

Mining, Women


Library of Congress Call Numbers: 










Stephen L. Fisher, ed. Fighting Back in Appalachia: Traditions of Resistance and Change. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1999. ASU APP COLL STACKS: HN79 .127 F4 1993, & c. 2.

Gieson, Carol A. B., Coal Miners’ Wives: Portraits of Endurance. Lexington, KY: The University Press of Kentucky. ASU APP COLL STACKS: HD8039 .M62 U6253 1995.

Kahn, Kathy. Hillbilly Women. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1973. ASU MAIN STACKS and ASU APP COLL STACKS: HQ1438 .A13 K33.

Laslett, John L, ed. The United Mine Workers of America: A Model of Industrial Solidarity? University Park: The Pennsylvania State University Press. ASU APP COLL STACKS: HD6515 .M616 U5584 1996.

Moore, Marat. Women in the Mines: Stories of Life and Work.New York: Twayne Publishers. ASU APP COLL STACKS: HD6073. M6152 U65 1996.

Norris, Randall and Jean-Phillipe Cypress. Women of Coal. Lexington, KY: The University Press of Kentucky. ASU APP COLL STACKS: HD6073 .M6152 U66 1996.

Guides, Encyclopedias, and Dictionaries: 

Abramson, Rudy and Haskell, Jean. Encyclopedia of Appalachia. Knoxville: The University of Tennessee Press, c2006. Women’s Groups, p 193-4, also see Women’s Roles, p195 and Hazel Dickens p 1143-1144, and Aunt Molly Jackson p 1175, Mother Jones p 577-79. ASU APP COLL STACKS: F106 .E53 2006, c 2.

Wilson, Charles Reagan and William Ferris, co-editors. Encyclopedia of Southern Culture. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina, 1989. APP COLL OVERSIZE: F209 .E53. Worker’s Wives, p1566. ASU APP COLL STACKS: F209 >E53 1989.

Wilson, Charles R, James G. Thomas, and Ann J. Abadie. The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture: Gender #13. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2006. Print. Workers Wives, p 287-290. ASU SPEC APP COLL: F209 .N47 2006.


West Virginia University Library. Appalachian Bibliography 1994-2010. COAL, INDUSTRY, LABOR, RAILROADS, TRANSPORTATION and WOMEN. <

West Virginia University Library. Appalachian Bibliography,1980. Morgantown: West Virginia University Library. 2 vols. A6 1980. See vol. 1. p1100. ASU APP COLL REFERENCE: F217 .A7

Mielke, David. Women and the Appalachian Region. The Center for Continuing Education: Appalachian State University, Boone. ASU APP COLLSTACKS: Z1251 >A7 M48 1976 c. 2.

Munn, Robert F. The Coal Industry in America, A Bibliography and Guide to Studies. Morgantown, West Virginia: West Virginia University Library, 1977. ASU APP COLL STACKS: Z6738 .C6 M8.

Parsons, Gerald E. A Brief List of Works Concerning Aunt Molly Jackson. Washington, DC: Library of Congress, Archive of Folk Song, 1975. Print.

Pittsburgh, P.A.: University of Pittsburgh Press, c1988. ASU SPEC APP COLL: HD8072 .J7832 1988.

Farr, Sidney Saylor. Appalachian Women: An Annotated Bibliography. Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky, 1981. ASU SPEC APP COLL: Z7964.A127 F37.

Parkinson, George. Guide to Coal Mining Collections in US. Morgantown: West Virginia University Library, 1978. ASU SPEC APP COLL: Z6738. C6 P 37.

Yonarella, Ann-Marie. Coal and the Social Sciences: A Bibliography Guide to the Literature. Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky, 1989. ASU SPEC APP COLL: Z6738. C6 C62.

Wrye, Jessica. Women Activism towards Labor Equality in the Coal Fields of Central Appalachia between 1964-1989. Pathfinder and Bibliography. ASU SPEC APP COLL.

Hogue, Coty. Hazel Dickens. Pathfinder and Bibliography. ASU SPEC APP COLL.

Journal of Appalachian Studies Bibliography. Published Yearly.

Abstracts and Indices: 

Academic Search Complete: Covers a wide array of academic disciplines including biological sciences, economics, communications, computer sciences, engineering, language and linguistics, arts and literature, medical sciences and women’s studies.

America: History and Life: A guide to the periodic publications in American Studies, including the humanities, folklore, and history.

Biblioline: An internet search site that provides access to data bases, and journals, and many other research related resources.

Business Source Complete: Covers accounting, banking, finance and economics, management, marketing, MIS, POM, and other business topics.

Left Index: Topics covered include politics, economics, the labor movement, ecology and the environment, women’s studies, race and ethnicity, social and cultural theory, sociology, art and aesthetics, philosophy, history, education, law and globalization.

MLA Bibliography: Covers folklore, languages, linguistics, and literature

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RILM Abstracts of Music Literature: Music and various other fields as they relate to music including: anthropology, dance, ethnomusicology, historical musicology, instruments and voice, librarianship, literature, dramatic arts and visual arts, music therapy, philosophy and physics, and sociology.

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WorldCat: Primarily books, but also includes manuscripts, computer data files, maps, computer programs, musical scores, films and slides, newspapers, journals, sound recordings, and videotapes. WorlCat does not include book chapters or individual articles in journals, magazines, and newspapers.


Appalachian Journal. Quarterly. Boone: Appalachian State University, 1972-present, Indices in V7, N.4; V18, N.4; V23, N.4. ASU SPEC APP COLL: F216.2.A66.

Journal of American History. Quarterly. Bloomington, Ind.: Mississippi Valley Historical Association, 1964-present. ASU WEB VERSION.

Journal of Appalachian Studies. Semiannual. Morgantown: Appalachian Studies Association, 1995-present. ASU SPEC APP COLL: F217. A65.

Journal of Women’s History. Quarterly. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. 1989-Present ASU WEB VERSION.

Frontiers: A Journal of Women’s Studies. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. 1996-Present. ASU WEB VERSION.

Gender and Society. Bimonthly. New York: Sage Publications Inc., 1987-present. ASU WEB VERSION.


About Women in Mining. October, 2006.

Audio and Video Sources: 

Pigmman, James, Roberts, Jeremy, Watts, Natasha. Blood Stained Coal: The Scotia Mine Disaster. 16 minute color film. Whitesburg, KY. Appalshop Films & Appalachian Media Institute, 2000. ASU APP COLL STACKS VC377.

Elizabeth Barret. Coalmining Women. 40:00 minute color film. Whitesburg, Ky: Appalshop Films. ASU App COLL STACKS VC23.

Harlan County, USA. 105 minute color film. RCA/Columbia Pictures Home Video. ASU APP COLL STACKS VC303.

Pickering, Mimi. Dreadful Memories, The Life of Sarah Ogan Gunning. Color film. Whitesburg, KY. Appalshop Films, 1998. ASU APP COLL STACKS: VC25.

Pickering, Mimi. Hazel Dickens, It’s Hard to Tell the Singer From the Song. 61 minute color film. Whitesburg, KY, c2001. Appalshop films. ASU APP COLL STACKS VC472.

Pickering, Mimi. Hazel Dickens, It’s Hard to Tell the Singer From the Song. Sound Recording. ASU APP COLL STACKS, ML3545 .A317 Rec. 687.

Compiled by: 

Jennifer Cohen-Jordan


Updated by: 

Kathryn Engle