Staff from the Athens County Historical Society and Museum visited Ohio University’s Department of Sociology and Anthropology on Feb. 12 to provide a special training session for a dozen Arts & Sciences undergraduate students involved in the Appalachia Population History Project.
Museum staff members Jessica Ciders and Donald Newell brought numerous historical and archival documents related to mining industries in Southeastern Ohio. They provided students with the proper skills to sort, catalogue and scan these century-old documents without damaging the items.
As part of the training session, students examined original mine survey maps, company store inventories from the early 20th century, campaign materials from early coal miner unions, accounts of mining accidents, and burial receipts for miners that had died and whose funerals had been paid for by the unions. These documents are just a small number of historical artifacts being considered by students participating in the Appalachia Population History Project.
The APHP is a regional study of historical population health and culture for Southeastern Ohio with particular focus on the Hocking Valley drainage area.
Dr. Nancy Tatarek and Dr. Paul Patton of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology started the project last year to document the rise of mining communities throughout the Hocking Valley over the past 200 years and how these industries altered the cultural and economic landscape for people living and working throughout the valley.
The project centers on human populations in the region, beginning with its initial settlement by European-Americans during the late 18th century and continuing through the establishment of extractive industries of natural resources such as coal and clay, to the decline of these industries in the mid to late 20th century.
A&S students have been involved in every part of the project and are currently conducting primary research into the small mining community of Buchtel, OH, located just outside of Nelsonville. Approximately 20 undergraduate students from a cross-section of disciplines in the College of Arts & Sciences are currently involved in the project.