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Children of the Coal: 1938

Children of the Coal: 1938

September 1938. "Coal miner's wife and three of their children. Company house in Pursglove, Scotts Run, West Virginia." Medium format negative by Marion Post Wolcott for the Resettlement Administration. View full size.


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I remember a long debate about what caused the skin condition of this little boy, a few years back. Some people thought it was just dirt, or impetigo. I believe it very likely was pellagra, caused by a chronic niacin deficiency, which was especially prominent in populations such as this. It must have been extremely miserable! I had a severe rash on my forearms and hands, from ages 9-13, which looked similar. It was just from detergent allergy, and when my family got a dishwasher, it went away, but it was bad enough to make me sympathize with anyone with a severe rash. In addition to making life miserable, pellagra can actually cause death. I sure hope this little boy was able to get the nutrition he needed, to get rid of it.

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