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Folklore in Southwestern Pennsylvania
Bituminous Coal Mining

Aaron Marcavitch, Introduction to American Folklore

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Background and History

Types of Folklore

Conclusions Reached




I found with this study that there is a marked difference with the current miners over those miners documented in the Patch/Work Voices and other sources. The old miners know certain myths, legends, and folklore that has not been passed down. Most of this lore is present only in one aspect, the ethnicity of the people.

Because the patches have become homogeneous and the ethnicity of people has become more of a mixed "salad," there is a loss of the traditions. Although the main folklore that pertains to the coal mine still persist, there is a loss of traditions such as grand weddings and specialized festivals. I had expected to find some mention of these items, but they were not present. Certainly they can be recalled of the fathers, but they have not survived to today.

The lifestyle of the miner has changed from the early days. He works with computers and electronics. Richard Marcavitch said that the mine is now like a big video game. The mine is a different place. However, there is still folklore in use. Now it has less to do with the ethnic life which diminishes the fervor for the folklore but it is still present. During the early parts of the seventies there was still a struggle against the old and the new, but now it is a new breed of miner.

The future of the coal miner is still hanging in the air with all the new regulations. With these could mean the end of the coal miner's folklore. But at least for now, the folk lore has not disappeared.