Coal Pickers

The strike that began in April 1922 lasted 16 months and became the largest action in United Mine Workers Union history; at its peak more than 500,000 union and non-union miners, in the bituminous and anthracite fields, had walked off their jobs. The winter of 1922-1923 was a very hard time. Even though they reached the point of starvation, the miners held fast: over the whole 16 months, only about 100 went back into the mines. In some mining towns coal companies evicted miners and their families from company-owned houses; in the bitter cold, they lived in tents and chicken coops on nearby farms. One official observer found women and children barefoot in the cold, their feet bleeding. The large number of coal pickers in the photos show how bad the situation was.

Coal Pickers in the winter picking up tiny pieces (about the size of rice coal) of smashed coal chunks that have dropped off coal trains.

Coal Pickers on No.5 Bank in 1922 scavenging coal from a culm bank of waste rock blasted out of the mines.

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