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Community Roots: Selections from the Local Legacies Project
Collage of Local Legacies

Grandma, What Was It Like?

Northeastern Pennsylvania, specifically the Lackawanna Valley, served a crucible of industry during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Extensive anthracite coal mining operations, iron and steel production, and the manufacture of textiles combined to create a robust economy and a compromised environment. Immigrants poured into the region's cities and towns by the tens of thousands in search of financial independence. Within a relatively brief period, towns and cities dotted the Lackawanna Valley floor. By the 1880s, most were linked by electric trolley systems and connected to the outside world through extensive steam-powered railroads.

Seeking a better life for their children, immigrants sought employment in the mines and on the region's railroads. Immigrants flowed in; coal flowed out. Work in the mines and mills provided nearly universal employment, but came with a price. The hard and dangerous work in the mines caused more than 10,000 deaths of miners between 1869 and 1900. This difficult and dangerous period provided a fascinating historic record of hope, courage, and the desire of diverse peoples to create a better life for themselves and their children. As the economy of Northeast Pennsylvania shifted with the advent of new technologies, this earlier era sparked the imagination of a new generation wishing to understand and experience the lives of their grandparents and great grandparents.

The project consists of a videotape, "Grandma, What Was It Like...", documenting this earlier era with a series of conversations with people who are playing an integral role in the preservation and public interpretation of Northeastern Pennsylvania's industrial era. Featured are four individuals, volunteers and staff at several of the Lackawanna Valley's key attractions: Steamtown, the Lackawanna Coal Mine Tour, the Eckley Miners Village, and the Trolley Museum. Historic photographs, films, commentaries, and oral histories are interwoven in the video to provide a broad understanding of the area's industrial era heritage and ongoing conservation efforts.

Originally submitted by: Donald Sherwood, Representative (10th District).

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The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.

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