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Welsh AmericansA History of Assimilation in the Coalfields$
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Ronald L. Lewis

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780807832202

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: July 2014

DOI: 10.5149/9780807887905_lewis

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From Nantymoel to Hollywood the Incredible Journey of Mary Thomas

From Nantymoel to Hollywood the Incredible Journey of Mary Thomas

(p.283) 9 From Nantymoel to Hollywood the Incredible Journey of Mary Thomas
Welsh Americans

Ronald L. Lewis

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter shows why women played no official role in the United Mine Workers of America—they were barred from working in the mines. Unofficially, however, women did play a significant part in the union's struggle for recognition. Operator policies in coal company towns affected the entire community, particularly during periods of labor conflict. Everyone was dependent on the coal company, and what affected the miners affected their families and friends. Therefore, women became militant partners in strikes because they had a direct interest in their successful outcome. Workers in early twentieth-century America came from ethnically diverse backgrounds, but serious conflicts with capital often forged a class unity among coalfield families that led them to expand the definition of “family” to incorporate the entire community.

Keywords:   United Mine Workers, America, women, operator policies, coal company towns, labor conflict

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