Year of Graduation


Document Type




Directing Professor

Peter Coogan


This thesis seeks to better analyze the contributions and experiences of women within the central Appalachian region through the work they participated in during the 20th century. It lays the foundational understandings of gender roles that crafted the society of the area and connects labor evolution for women within Appalachia and the US as a whole – highlighting similarities and differences. It also discusses Appalachian women’s move from the household to waged labor within the coal mines. Special attention will be paid to the reactions of men and other women to women coal miners to understand what gendered labor means within the region. Also discussed is the role of women in traditions of resistance in Appalachia, mainly in the context of labor rights and environmental activism. It studies women’s participation in union and nonunion activity as social unrest evolved from labor issues to discussions over the environmental impact of coal mining. It seeks to broadly trace a line of women activists from the turn of the 19th century to more contemporary activists, highlighting the ways in which women used their gender, and worked against gender norms, to create change in the Appalachian region.