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Convicts, Coal, and the Banner Mine Tragedy, Convicts, Coal, and the Banner Mine Tragedy, 0817303049, 0-8173-0304-9, 978-0-8173-0304-4, 9780817303044, , , Convicts, Coal, and the Banner Mine Tragedy, 0817312137, 0-8173-1213-7, 978-0-8173-1213-8, 9780817312138, , , Convicts, Coal, and the Banner Mine Tragedy, 0817390405, 0-8173-9040-5, 978-0-8173-9040-2, 9780817390402,

Convicts, Coal, and the Banner Mine Tragedy
by Robert David Ward, William Warren Rogers

Quality Paper
2002. 176 pp.
978-0-8173-1213-8
Price:  $24.95 s
E Book
2015. 176 pp.
978-0-8173-9040-2
Price:  $24.95 d

In the late 1870s, Jefferson County, Alabama, and the town of Elyton (near the future Birmingham) became the focus of a remarkable industrial and mining revolution. Together with the surrounding counties, the area was penetrated by railroads. Surprisingly large deposits of bituminous coal, limestone, and iron ore—the exact ingredients for the manufacture of iron and, later, steel—began to be exploited. Now, with transportation, modern extractive techniques, and capital, the region’s geological riches began yielding enormous profits.

A labor force was necessary to maintain and expand the Birmingham area’s industrial boom. Many workers were native Alabamians. There was as well an immigrant ethnic work force, small but important. The native and immigrant laborers became problems for management when workers began affiliating with labor unions and striking for higher wages and better working conditions. In the wake of the management-labor disputes, the industrialists resorted to an artificial work force—convict labor. Alabama’s state and county officials sought to avoid expense and reap profits by leasing prisoners to industry and farms for their labor.

This book is about the men who worked involuntarily in the Banner Coal Mine, owned by the Pratt Consolidated Coal Company. And it is about the repercussions and consequences that followed an explosion at the mine in the spring of 1911 that killed 128 convict miners.

Robert David Ward is Professor Emeritus of History, Georgia Southern College. William Warren Rogers is Professor of History, The Florida State University.


"By linking convict labor and mine safety [the authors] create a field in which new insights are possible . . . [w]ell written and organized, nicely illustrated, and exhaustively researched."
—Journal of Southern History