Gwendolyn Ruth Jones
Grant TypeDissertation Fieldwork Grant
Institutional AffiliationTexas, Austin, U. of
Grant numberGr. 10610
Approve DateSeptember 29, 2023
Project TitleJones, Gwendolyn (Texas, Austin, U. of) "Work Hard, Play Harder: The Archaeology of Childhood in Pennsylvania's Anthracite Fields"
We were all children once, yet children were scarcely discussed in archaeology until recently. Coal-mining communities are fruitful sites for research on American capitalism, labor organizing, poverty, immigration, the second industrial revolution, and more. These company “patch” towns were an American approach to feudalism, where the land, housing, and store were all owned by a coal company in order to keep mining families in a system of debt bondage. Despite this, children’s roles in these important matters are often ignored, and there is no archaeological research published on the experience of growing up in these patch towns. In this project, I seek out material evidence of children in Pennsylvania’s anthracite region. Alongside historical records and oral history interviews collected in the 1970s, I use children’s toys and additional material culture to understand what their daily lives really looked like at the turn of the 20th century. Most research on childhood centers the middle class, and as a direct descendant of these coal miners I want to highlight the unique experiences of children working and playing in these impoverished communities.