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Brief Commentary by Author

In 1986 I began conducting family history research. My roots led me to the small town of Braidwood, about 60 miles southwest of Chicago. I soon discovered generations of coal miner ancestors on both sides of my family working in the town and surrounding area. In the early 1990s, my focus shifted from tracing my family tree, to the pursuit of the African American coal miner. What I subsequently uncovered was the rich and colorful history of coal mining and its critical role in the development of the United States in the late 19th and early 20th century. However, what was largely hidden or obscured in the historical material related to coal mining was the participation of the African Americans. Thousands of them toiled in the pits and shafts, both as slaves and free men. The information concerning this group of workers is generally contained in a myriad of documents, often unindexed and scattered in many locations across the country. This site was created for the purpose of sharing over ten years of information I have collected related to African American coal miners. It also provides a vehicle for others with additional information, however small or large, to contribute to this body of knowledge. It is hoped that through this effort, family historians will locate missing ancestors, and researchers will be inspired to conduct serious research and publish materials related to this underdeveloped subject area.

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Last updated November 28, 2003
© copyright 2003 by Tim Pinnick