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Unearthing Your Coal Miner Relatives at the Pennsylvania State Archives

The Pennsylvania State Archives hold numerous collections which pertain to persons either employed in or in some way associated with the anthracite (hard coal) and bituminous (soft coal) mining industries of the Commonwealth. The anthracite fields stretch for nearly 500 square miles across portions of northeastern Pennsylvania, while the bituminous fields underlie most of the western counties, as well as portions of the northern tier of the state. Unfortunately, there is not a great deal of documentation concerning rank and file miners and mine workers in the collections of the State Archives. There are a few notable exceptions, including:

  • Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company Inactive Employment Record Cards, 1913-1965, Manuscript Group 311, Series 18 (2 boxes)

  • Registers of Mine Accidents, Anthracite, Bituminous and Non-Coal, 1973-1989, Record Group 43, {series #43.53} [series is continued from RG-45] (1 box)

  • Anthracite and Bituminous Fatal Mining Accident Reports, 1936-1974, Record Group 43 {series #43.74}, Accession #2386 (14 microfilm rolls) Microfilm Rolls #6483-6496

  • Registers of Mine Accidents for the Anthracite and Bituminous Districts, 1899-1972, Record Group 45, {series #45.14 & #45.15}  Microfilm Rolls #3586-3602, 6028

  • Index Stubs and Cards to (Bituminous) Miners Certificates, 1937-1965, Record Group 66, {series #66.7} (126 boxes)
    • These five groups would be a good starting point for researchers wishing to locate non-management personnel who may have worked in Pennsylvania's coal industries. For all other job titles associated with the mines, including administrative personnel, mine foremen, assistant mine foremen, mine inspectors, fire bosses and electricians, see the remaining record and manuscript groups listed below.

      Three miners

      ANTHRACITE COAL

      Manuscript Groups:

      • Manuscript Group 311, Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company Records, 1792-1978
        • Inactive Employment Record Cards, 1913-1965, Series 18. (2 boxes)
          • The cards are arranged alphabetically by surname.
      • Manuscript Group 369, Anthracite Museum Complex Collections, 1896-1964
        • Collections containing genealogical material are chiefly located at the Anthracite Heritage Museum in Scranton.  Please call 570-963-4845 to make an appointment to view the materials held there. Eckley Miner's Village also holds a few documents and publications, however there are not an apprecible number of relevant genealogical items housed at the site.
      • Manuscript Group 463, Susquehanna Coal Company Records, 1901-1915
        • Payroll Ledgers, 1901-1915. (67 volumes)
          • These payroll ledgers document workers who labored at the Cameron, Hickory Ridge, Hickory Swamp, Luke Fidler and Pennsylvania Collieries of the Susquehanna Coal Company. They are organized by colliery and then chronologically by month within each volume. Unfortunately there are no name indexes and the names for each month are not arranged alphabetically, so the researcher may have to search in a number of ledgers to find a name they are looking for.

      Mine workers


      Record Groups:
      • Record Group 43: Department of Environmental Resources
        • Registers of Mine Accidents, Anthracite, Bituminous and Non-Coal, 1973-1989, {series #43.53} [series is continued from RG-45]. (1 box)
          • The accident books are grouped chronologically by date of accident.
        • Anthracite and Bituminous Fatal Mining Accident Reports, 1936-1974, {series #43.74}. (14 microfilm rolls) Microfilm Rolls #6483-6496
          • These reports are arranged chronologically by year and then alphabetically by surname of the deceased miner.  
      • Record Group 45: Department of Mines and Mineral Industries
        • Correspondence of Anthracite Division Mine Inspectors, 1903-1951, {series #45.10}. (4 cartons)
          • Arranged numerically by mining district, then chronologically by year.
        • Registers of Mine Accidents for the Anthracite Districts, 1899-1972, {series #45.14} [series continues in RG-66]. (19 volumes) Microfilm Rolls #3586-3592, 6028
          • The accident registers are arranged by mining district, then chronologically by the date of the accident. The anthracite registers have been compiled in a database by researcher Jerry Sherard and are available for viewing online. For those not familiar with the layout of the various mining districts over time, follow the preceeding link website and choose either "Bituminous County Search" or "Anthracite County Search," and follow the instructions.
      • Record Group 66: Department of Environmental Protection
        • Anthracite Mine Certification Records for Foremen and Assistant Foremen, 1886-1968, {series #66.1} . (36 volumes)
          • Organized numerically by certificate numbers, which were assigned chronologically, this series consists of three types of certification recordings: Certificate Books, Certificate Receipt Books, and Registers.
        • Anthracite Region Mine Accident Report Registers, 1961-1965, 1968-1975, {series #66.2} . [series is continued from RG-45] (2 volumes)
          • Arranged chronologically by date of accident.
      Men on railroad cars

      BITUMINOUS COAL


      Record Groups:
      • Record Group 7: Records of the General Assembly
        • Department of Mines Expense Account Book, 1909-1912, {series #7.40} . (1 volume)
          • The account book is arranged chronologically by date of entry.
      • Record Group 43: Department of Environmental Resources
        • Registers of Mine Accidents, Anthracite, Bituminous and Non-Coal, 1973-1989, {series #43.53} [series is continued from RG-45]. (1 box)
          • The volumes are grouped chronologically by date of accident.
        • Anthracite and Bituminous Fatal Mining Accident Reports, 1936-1974, Accession #2386. (14 microfilm rolls) Microfilm Rolls #6483-6496
          • The reports are organized chronologically by year and then alphabetically by surname of the deceased miner.
      • Record Group 45: Department of Mines and Mineral Industries
        • Bituminous Mine Certification Records for Assistant Foremen, 1911-1923, {series #45.3} . (6 volumes) Microfilm Rolls #6426-6430
          • Each volume is individually indexed by the surname of the foreman, with the records arranged in numerical order by certificate number.
        • Bituminous Mine Certification Records for Assistant First and Second Grade Foremen, 1923-1963, {series #45.4} . (5 volumes) Microfilm Roll #6452
          • The volumes are individually indexed by the surname of the foreman, with the records organized in numerical order by certificate number.
        • Bituminous Mine Certification Records for Fire Boss Examiners, 1912-1963, {series #45.5} . (12 volumes) Microfilm Rolls #6444-6451, 6453
          • Each volume is individually indexed by the surname of the examiner, with the records arranged in numerical order by certificate number. The last volume also contains Bituminous Mine Certification Records for Electricians {series #45.6} , for the years 1962-1963.
        • Bituminous Mine Certification Records for Electricians, 1939-1963, {series #45.6} . (2 volumes) Microfilm Roll #6453
          • The volumes are individually indexed by the surname of the electrician, with the records grouped in numerical order by certificate number. The last volume also contains Bituminous Mine Certification Records for Fire Boss Examiners (Series #45.6), for the years 1962 and 1963.
        • Bituminous Mine Certification Records for First Grade Foremen, 1903-1963, {series #45.7} . (10 volumes) Microfilm Rolls #6431-6437
          • Each volume is individually indexed by the surname of the foreman, with the records arranged in numerical order by certificate number.The last volume also contains Bituminous Mine Certification Records for Second Grade Forman {series #45.8} , for the years 1962-1963.
        • Bituminous Mine Certification Records for Second Grade Foremen, 1903-1963, {series #45.8} . (9 volumes) Microfilm Rolls #6438-6443, 6452
          • The volumes are individually indexed by the surname of the foreman, with the records organized in numerical order by certificate number. The last volume also contains Bituminous Mine Certification Records for First Grade Foreman {series #45.7} , for the years 1962-1963.
        • Correspondence of Bituminous Division Mine Inspectors, 1903-1930, 1936, 1949. {series #45.11} . (7 cartons)
          • Arranged numerically by mining district, then chronologically by year.
        • Registers of Mine Accidents for the Bituminous Districts, 1899-1972, {series #45.15} . (20 volumes) Microfilm Roll #3593-3602
          • Similar to the anthracite registers of Series #45.14, these volumes are grouped by mining district, then chronologically by the date of the accident. The bituminous registers for the years 1899-1932 have been compiled in a database by researcher Jerry Sherard and are available for viewing online. For those not familiar with the layout of the various mining districts over time, follow the preceeding link website and choose either "Bituminous County Search" or "Anthracite County Search," and follow the instructions.
      • Record Group 66: Department of Environmental Protection
        • Examinations Relating to Bituminous Mine Officials - Harrisburg, 1991, {series #66.6} . (11 cartons, 7 boxes)
          • These records are arranged by examination number, and include test copies, tally sheets, examination applications, test answer sheets, and microfilm of examinations for Mine Electricians, Mine Examiners, Assistant Mine Foremen and Mine Foremen. In addition there are certificates of character and affidavits of experience for some miners taking the tests in 1990 and 1991. The overwhelming majority of the records pertain to bituminous exams, however there are a few files, mostly applications, that document tests and test-takers from the anthracite region during 1993 and 1994. Included on the applications are the names and addresses of the miner and three persons who can attest to the applicant's character, as well as a history of each miner's work experience. The files are arranged differently depending on the year, with most broken down by job title, then organized either alphabetically by surname or numerically by work (test) number.

            Access to this series is restricted due to the presence of social security numbers on numerous materials.
             
        • Index Stubs and Cards to Miners Certificates, 1937-1965, {series #66.7} . (126 boxes)
          • This group of certificate stubs and cards is grouped into four separate batches as follows: Miners' Certificate Cards and Stubs, which date from 1937 and 1938; Machine Runner and Cutting, Loading, and Drilling Machine Operators Certificate Stubs, dating from 1938 through the late 1950s, possibly the early 1960s; Miners' Certificate Stubs which date from the late 1930s; and Miners' Certificate Stubs dating from 1939 through roughly 1965. The bulk of the stubs and cards date from 1937 through 1955, and all provide excellent genealogical data on rank-and-file miners and other mine workers who labored in the bituminous fields of western Pennsylvania. Specific information found in each batch of material includes the following: Miner's Certificate Cards and Stubs, 1937, 1938 (81 boxes): name of miner, age of miner (not found on all cards), address of miner, certification number, application number, date of issue, employer, and mine number. Index cards constitute the bulk of this series, however, for some reason the run of index cards becomes a run of certificate stubs after Box 68, beginning with the stub for John Sagan. These stubs are stylistically different from the ones described below, but convey the same type of information; Machine Runner and Cutting, Loading, and Drilling Machine Operators Certificate Stubs, 1930s-1960s (12 boxes): stub number, name of miner, address of miner, place of birth, date of birth, mine where employed at the time of exam, company name, mine experience (some stubs provide a specific number of years of machine experience), place of examination, date of examination, date of certificate issuance, and bituminous inspection district number. Miner's Certificate Stubs, late 1930s (6 boxes): stub number, name of miner, address of miner, place of birth, date of birth, mine where employed at the time of exam, company name, mine experience, place of examination, date of examination, and date of certificate issuance; Miner's Certificate Stubs, 1939-1965 (25 boxes): stub number, name of miner, address of miner, place of birth, date of birth, mine where employed at the time of exam, company name, mine experience (in years), place of examination, date of examination, date of certificate issuance, and bituminous inspection district number.

            Also present are twenty-six microfilm rolls. All refer to the bituminous coal region of western Pennsylvania, with the first sixteen rolls apparently duplicating the Miners' Certificate Cards (1937, 1938) and the last ten containing original data, specifically: four rolls of Mine Foreman certification stubs and certificates, dating from roughly 1939-1966 (bulk 1940s), organized numerically by mining district then alphabetically by surname; four rolls of Mine Foreman certification stubs and certificates, dating from roughly 1966-1987 (bulk 1970s), organized numerically by mining district then alphabetically by surname; and two rolls of Shot Firer Certifications, 1938-1983, arranged alphabetically by surname. The cards and stubs on these rolls are NOT in precise alphabetical order; it is recommended to check throughout the run of a specific surname letter if an individual cannot be found in the normal alphabetical sequence.

            The four rolls containing materials from 1966-1987 are restricted due to the presence of social security numbers.
             

      Deringer breaker


MINING-RELATED WEBSITES AND OTHER RESOURCES

If you need further assistance, you may contact an archivist at ra-statearchives@pa.gov