Coal mining in the mid-20th century was extremely difficult for the miners and their families. The underground work was dangerous, dirty, and often damp. Miners working in the underground tunnels could not stand straight, ceilings in the tunnels being too low. They breathed stale dusty air, and many developed a breathing ailment known today as “Black Lung”. Miners used lumber to prop up the roof where they worked, but often huge rocks would fall, thus trapping, injuring, or killing them. Miners complained that the coal companies did not supply them with adequate rails, cars, lumber, or fresh air. Explosive gas was present in some mines and many miners were injured or killed by blasts.
(Photo credit: Taconis, Kryn / Anefo / Nationaal Archief).