Back to Top

Cataloging Artifacts: West Virginia Mine Wars Museum

February 26, 2015

WVMWM_kennystable

We’re moving forward with the West Virginia Mine Wars Museum over in Matewan, WV. This community-driven, people’s history museum opens to the public on May 16 (in the midst of the annual Matewan Shootout reinactment!). There’s still work to be done getting the building, and our exhibits, in order – but we’re moving quickly, and it’s invigorating watching it all come together.

Last month several of us took on the task of cataloging the collection of board member Kenny King. Kenny’s been scouring the known battlefields where skirmishes occurred during the Mine Wars era (~1912-1921) and picking up whatever artifacts he finds. His collection is the foundation upon which our burgeoning museum is built, and I was personally very excited to catalog and photograph his extensive collection – the first time his work has ever been assembled and documented in full. Below are some choice images from last month’s work, all of which will be on display when the museum opens in May…

WVMWM_minershat.jpg
Miner’s cap with oil-wick lamp.

WVMWM_carbidelamp.jpg
Carbide headlamp.

WVMWM_30-06.jpg
.30-06 bullets.

WVMWM_45ACP.jpg
.45 ACP cartridge cases, from Thompson submachine guns.

WVMWM_checktagbag.jpg
Kenny has bags and bags of “check tags”, individual identification tags which miners used to mark the cars of coal they had loaded before they were pulled out of the mines. ID numbers on the tags were used to log miner’s pay.

WVMWM_childsshoes.jpg
Child’s shoes.

WVMWM_scrip.jpg

WVMWM_scripshelf.jpg
Examples of company scrip – coinage that was the primary (and illegal) method for paying coal miners of the era, redeemable only at stores run by the same companies which ran the mines.

WVMWM_forkhook.jpg
Fork, bent into a hook to hang from a belt.

WVMWM_objectshelf.jpg
Miscellaneous items from the collection.

WVMWM_NYTimesSept5.1921.jpg
New York Times, September 5, 1921

HistoryInspirationLabor

Posts by Shaun Slifer

DIYDPW (#20)

DIYDPW (#20)

April 25, 2012

Pittsburgh, PA, USA DIYDPW is a weekly blog post highlighting global examples of Do It Yourself Department of Public Works projects. These are defined as any examples of municipal signage…

DIYDPW (#3)

DIYDPW (#3)

December 21, 2011

Danger sign on electrical box, Mumbai, India DIYDPW is a weekly blog post highlighting global examples of Do It Yourself Department of Public Works projects. These are defined as any examples of municipal…

More By Shaun Slifer