Degree Name

MA (Master of Arts)



Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Marie Tedesco

Committee Members

Emmett M. Essin III, Elwood D. Watson


The economy and population of McDowell County, West Virginia, drastically decreased between 1950 and 1970. The increased reliance of the coal industry, McDowell County's primary industry, on labor saving machinery resulted in a loss of employment opportunities. This study seeks to investigate the reasons for the reliance on coal and the results of the mechanization movement in the coal industry on McDowell County. Using production and employment data of two representative McDowell County coal companies, it is clear that the introduction of continuous mining machines, which combined the cutting and loading of coal into one step, allowed companies to mine more coal with fewer workers. Because the economy of McDowell County was so coal-intensive, the increased unemployment caused by mechanization forced many miners to migrate to such midwestern industrial centers as Cleveland or Columbus.

Document Type

Thesis - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.