Nineteenth century coal miners' oral interviews from Kentucky, West Virginia, and Virginia convey their experiences as individuals and of a general community. Southern Appalachian coal miners experienced nearly constant dangers and threats to their lives underground which helped shape their relationships between other miners and industry controls. Added to coal miners’ occupational hazards, the long term emphysemic effects of coal mining and the physical prevalence of coal dust in the coal miner’s life created a life defined by danger. Miners reconciled this dehumanizing lifestyle through readily predictable methods, such as spirituality and camaraderie but also seemingly paradoxical methods, including carelessness and mischief underground.

First Advisor

Douglas Sackman

Second Advisor

Katherine Smith

Degree Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts in History

Date of Award

Spring 5-5-2016