Document Details

Document Type:   Thesis
Title:   "The Devil Was the First Scab": Working-Class Spirituality and Union Organization in Marion County, West Virginia 1918-1927
Author:   Chelsie C. Fitzwater
College:   Liberal Arts
Degree Program:   History, M.A.
Degree:   Master of Arts
Committee Director:   Kevin Barksdale
Document Availability:   Document available for World-Wide access.
Date of Defense:   December 2011

A community-focused study of Marion County, West Virginia provides a unique opportunity to explore unionization efforts in central Appalachia. This thesis examines the interplay between working-class spirituality, unionism, and capitalism at the height of organized labor campaigns in the Fairmont Field between 1918 and 1927. The region reflects national and local trends in trade unionism as well as shifts in religious attitudes between conservative Fundamentalist evangelists and progressive Social Gospel ministers. Marion County differs from other Appalachian coalfields because local industrialists rather than absentee developers spearheaded the region's economic development while labor leaders from outside of the state led unionization drives. Religion became one way both coal operators and union organizers communicated their political, economic, and social beliefs. This thesis examines mine workers in Marion County to understand the distinctive ways industrialists, trade unionists, and religious leaders adapted to the effects of rapid industrialization on the region. 

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