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The Darkest Month: Coal Mining Disasters of December 1907

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Social Studies Age Levels Elementary (9 to 12 years old), Middle School (13 to 15 years old), High School (16 to 18 years old)

The Darkest Month contains activities, primary sources, and other information to help teach students about the effect of transportation in western Pennsylvania  (be sure to click on the paper clip and/or info icon on each item to find out more about it). 


This resource was originally created to commemorate the centennial anniversary of the Darr and Monongah coalmining disasters – two of the worst coalmining disasters in American history. Occurring in Jacobs Creek, Pennsylvania, and Monongah, West Virginia, these devastating mine explosions revealed the overly hazardous conditions faced by immigrant coalminers drawn to the Pittsburgh Coal Seam by the prospect of work. The story of the miners who perished in December of 1907, known at the time as the “dreadful month” because of a string of mining disasters nationwide that left nearly 3,000 miners dead, affords a long overdue opportunity to discuss the historical impact of coalmining on the greater Pittsburgh region. It also illuminates larger social history themes including the interrelationship of immigration, industry, capitalism, and organized labor. The fact that these industrial disasters occurred in 1907, the peak year of immigrant arrivals to Ellis Island, underscores the centrality of immigration to the American coalmining story. With heavy attention on ethnic life, these resources show how European immigrants modeled their Old World lives within their new industrial homes and used these institutions to survive their day to day work in an extremely dangerous industry.

The Darkest Month: Coal Mining Disasters of December 1907

Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania

Introduction

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Background Text

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Primary Sources

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Slavic Group at Ellis Island

Archives of American Art

Additional Resources

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Analyzing a Photograph--Quadrant Analysis

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Analyzing a Photograph

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