Photographic History of Hard Coal Mining in Northeastern Pennsylvania, late 1800s-mid 1900s collection

Dublin Core


Photographic History of Hard Coal Mining in Northeastern Pennsylvania, late 1800s-mid 1900s collection


Wilkes-Barre (Pa.)
Anthracite coal industry--Pennsylvania--History--Sources.
Anthracite mines and mining
Wyoming Valley (Pa.)--1860-1890.
Wyoming Valley (Pa.)--1900-1910.
Wyoming Valley (Pa.)--History.


Description from the Exhibit Introduction:

Photographic History of Hard Coal Mining in Northeastern Pennsylvania
was a Sordoni Art Gallery exhibit in 1976 that featured the original photographs taken by Ralph E. DeWitt, a prominent local photographer who captured the era of anthracite mining in Northeastern Pennsylvania from the late 1800s to the early 1900s. There was an emphasis on the mines and mining operations, and of the miner's lives, homes, and families.

Anthracite coal provided the United States with over 75% of its energy needs from the early 1800s to the mid-1900's. Ninety-five percent of this country's anthracite (and 90% of the world's) is found in nine counties in northeastern Pennsylvania. Thus for over a century the land and people of this small geographic area gave us the power to light and heat our homes, run our factories and carry us through the Industrial Revolution, World War I and II, and the Great Depression. From their point of view, during this same 125-year period, anthracite coal mining was the dominant factor shaping the social, economic, and physical environment of the area and its hard working miners who had co me from all parts of Europe in search of economic advancement. Their rich mixture of backgrounds and cultures combined with the rigors of the mining trade to produce the unique character of the anthracite region of northeastern Pennsylvania."

The exhibition consisted of sixty-one black and white photographs documenting various aspects of mining life.


Photographs were taken by Ralph E. DeWitt, a local photographer. Ralph E. DeWitt (June 10, 1885-March 30, 1979) was born in Wilkes-Barre, PA to John and Rosanna Gunton DeWitt. He graduated from the Henry Hillman Academy in Wilkes-Barre, and received his degree from Syracuse University. He was a well-known photographer in the Wyoming Valley for over 50 years, with studios in Wilkes-Barre and Forty Fort. he lived in Forty Fort from 1905 to 1965. He was a member of the First Presbyterian Church, Wilkes-Barre Rotary Club, and the Concordia Society. Exhibit was created by Cara M. Berryman, Exhibitions Coordinator, and William A. Siener, director of the Wyoming Valley Historical and Geological Society, acted as a consultant.


Photographs are from late 19th-early 20th century. Exhibit was done in 1976.


Exhibition was funded by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.


All of these Ralph DeWitt photographs are in the public domain.


TIF files