Exhibition Depicting Life In A Coal Company Camp Visiting Concord University’s Marsh Library

For Immediate Release: 
Jan 20 2016

CONTACT:  Sarah Dalton

Concord University 

Office of Advancement 

PO Box 1000, Athens, WV 24712

(304) 384-6312, news@concord.edu

www.concord.edu         

 

EXHIBITION DEPICTING LIFE IN A COAL COMPANY CAMP

VISITING CONCORD UNIVERSITY’S MARSH LIBRARY

 

ATHENS, W.Va. – The Watts Museum Exhibition, “Outside the Mine: Daily Life in a Coal Company Camp,” will be on display in the West Virginia Room in the Marsh Library at Concord University beginning Monday, Feb. 1, 2016.

The exhibit explores the lives of miners and their families in the coal towns of Appalachia. According to Connie Shumate, director of the Marsh Library, the exhibit will remain at Concord through the first part of June.

The general public may view “Outside the Mine: Daily Life in a Coal Company Camp” from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Schools and other groups wishing to visit the exhibit should contact Shumate at 304-384-5366 to schedule an appointment. Admission is free.

“Outside the Mine: Daily Life in a Coal Company Camp” focuses on four central components of the region’s coal communities: commerce and the company store, religion and faith, domestic work and activities, and social time and leisure. The exhibition features historical artifacts and photographs from the days when coal was king.

From the late 19th to the mid-20th centuries, self-contained communities called “coal camps” sprang up across the Appalachian landscape.

“Coal companies built homes, churches, schools and stores in the region’s remote coalfields to attract miners,” said Danielle Petrak, museum curator. “Although mining operations sustained these towns’ existence, there was more to life in coal camps than laboring underground.”

“Outside the Mine” illustrates how the spirit of hard work and sense of camaraderie typical among miners impacted the development of a distinct coal camp culture. Often isolated by geography and limited in their means, camp residents relied on coal companies for their basic needs and found creative ways to relax, socialize and entertain themselves.

Company-provided amenities, including barber shops and post offices, fulfilled practical purposes but also served as social gathering spots. Many coal company stores contained saloons or social halls, and churches often sponsored youth socials and picnic dinners. Children created makeshift playgrounds out of mining equipment, while women kept each other company by tackling household chores with friends and relatives.

“Outside the Mine: Daily Life in a Coal Camp” is organized and presented by the Royce J. and Caroline B. Watts Museum at West Virginia University. Assistance in bringing this exhibit to Concord University has been provided by the West Virginia Humanities Council.

 

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Persons with disabilities should contact Nancy Ellison, 1-304-384-6086 or 1-800-344-6679 extension 6086

if special assistance is required for access to an event scheduled by the University on campus.