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Jarod Roll
University of Mississippi, Main Campus (University, MS 38677-1848)
American Metal Miners and the Lure of Capitalism, 1850-1950

A book-length study of American miners in Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma and their opposition to labor unions, occupational safety regulations, and environmental reforms.

Poor Man’s Fortune is the history of how some white American workers, in this case, lead and zinc miners in Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma, rejected the security of labor unions, government reforms, and environmental safeguards from the 1850s to the 1950s. Rather than seek negative explanations for this pattern, as other labor historians might, I instead show how the pattern emerged as these communities embraced, over several decades, the physical, financial, and environmental risks of industrial capitalism in order to seek its rewards. This study, which is based on research in archives across the U.S., offers a grassroots study of anti-union, anti-government white workers that, unlike dominant trends in American labor and political history, takes their perspective seriously. More broadly, Poor Man’s Fortune speaks to issues of sustainability in industrial society by interrogating the dilemmas of people whose labor undermined the viability of their livelihoods and communities.

[Grant products]

Project fields:
Labor History; U.S. History

Fellowships for University Teachers

Research Programs

$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
8/1/2018 – 7/31/2019