Wednesday, October 24, 2007
In a feature article, the Columbus Dispatch reported that a registry of coal miners in southeastern Ohio as far back as the 1800s will be available next year. Such a database looks to be a major watershed for tracing this region's mining families. During my years as a genealogy librarian, I was often asked by researchers about the availability of information on their African-American, English, Welsh, and Scottish forefathers who were miners in Perry, Jackson, Vinton, and other counties in the Hocking Valley region. Today, as the article states, the "Little Cities of Black Diamonds--the towns where the mining families lived--have declined or disappeared as technology and demand have caused their numbers to drastically fall. There is an excellent and well-documented book by Professor Ivan M. Tribe entitled Little Cities of Black Diamonds: Urban Development in the Hocking Coal Region, 1870-1900 (1988) which tells their story. At the State Library of Ohio, we have the Report of the State Inspector of Mines in our State of Ohio Government Documents collection. These annual reports are full of important information for the historian and genealogist alike. Inspection reports for every active mine in the state are printed in every year of the Report. Of greatest interest to the genealogist will be the annuals from 1874 to 1913 containing information on those who were injured or killed in mining accidents. If you have been researching your mining ancestor, what sources (including online) have you found helpful? Let us know. Please take a look at the article "Registry digs into mining history" by Mary Beth Lane in the October 22, 2007 issue of the Columbus Dispatch.