SHORPY Historic Photo Archive & Fine-Art Prints
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About the Photos

Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

© 2019 SHORPY INC.

[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Been a Miner: 1939

Been a Miner: 1939

January 1939. "Unemployed miner. Herrin, Illinois." Medium format negative by Arthur Rothstein for the Resettlement Administration. View full size.

        Williamson County, Illinois, once produced 11 million tons of coal per year, and led the state in output. Since 1923, output has steadily declined until now it falls short of 2 million tons. At one time, sixteen mine-whistles blowing to work could be heard from the center of Herrin. Now only two mines are running and those will probably be abandoned within the next year. The Herrin office of the United Mine Workers of America was once the most active in the state. Today it is no longer self-sustaining. These pictures were taken in the Herrin UMWA office on a day when the mines were not working. They show the type of miners still employed in Williamson County but faced with the almost certain prospect of being discarded by the industry when the last mine is closed. (A.R., Jan. 1939)

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Mine whistle blowing

Growing up in a bituminous soft coal mining town. The mine whistle blew every evening at 7 to tell the union miners there was work the next day. Hasn't blown in a long time. But I can still hear the whistle.

He paid his two bits

I had to zoom into the full size to make out the stubble on this guy. He might not have much in life, but he has access to a good razor.

Yikes! Looks like Dad!

The man in the picture looks a lot like my father. I know it's not him, because in 1939, Dad was in the Civilian Conservation Corps building shelters at Yellowstone Park.

SHORPY OLD PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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