Wednesday 5 June 2019

3,000 Irish in the Pennsylvania Mine Accidents Register

FindMyPast has added a quirky collection called Pennsylvania, Register Of Mine Accidents. These registers are from the Department of Mines and Mineral Industries and they document accidents in the anthracite and bituminous coalfields of the state between 1899 and 1972.

It holds more than 163,000 records, many of them related to immigrants, and while they make up less than 3% of the total number of casualties recorded, there are 2,924 Irishmen included. About half of them were born between 1850 and 1890.

Quite shocking is the age of some of the men. The oldest I found was a miner called Michael Quinn who was working at Bernice Drift mine in 1899 when he was injured in a mine roof fall. He was 73 years old (b1826). Searching just the date of accident and location, the records showed that a 43-year-old fellow miner was killed in the same accident.

As in this case at Bernice Drift, the records explain where each accident occurred, the cause and whether the accident was or was not fatal. The 'fault' of the accident is attributed in many cases to either the victim or noted as 'unavoidable'. Among the accidents recorded are roof fall, caught in conveyor belt, runaway trip, crushed, falling coal, fall of slate, hit by car, electrocuted, explosion of blast, and even, in two instances, 'by mule falling on him'.

The transcribed record links to the typed up database, which is organised in a series of alphabetical pdfs.