The Anthracite Heritage Museum opens Digital Exhibit.

Memories and identities of generations of industrial communities drive heritage in remembrances of families, loved ones, and regional pride. This is especially true of more recent industries that existed through the mid-20th century and concentrated in areas with long histories and deep family roots.  To fully understand our deep and rich history, it is sometimes necessary to examine the stories we haven’t collected and developed exhibits around. To get a full picture of our history, we must ask how other people, not well represented in our museums fit into our history and to understand how our anthracite culture continues to evolve and grow. 

Our region has undergone significant change over the last 250 years as mining increased, fueled American industry and heated homes, then declined as other fuels dominated the market.  In the last forty years we have seen even more radical change as global movements of people, technology, energy, and economic focus have altered the landscape of Northeast Pennsylvania. For the Anthracite Museum, it is important to understand these changes in the context of the coal culture that once dominated and still influences our area.

The Anthracite Heritage Museum
in partnership with the University of Maryland recently completed phase one of a new digital exhibit titled “We are Anthracite” to collect and share the stories of people not represented in the museum.  To share the stories of new immigrants in real time and to understand these cyclical patterns of behavior.  To share the stories of people who have been in our region for centuries but whose stories weren’t presented.  Site Administrator Dr. Bode Morin says, “the anthracite region hosts a unique and complex mining culture.  It is one of the oldest industrial communities in the country composed and enriched by cultures from all over the world.  However, it is important that we realize that global shifts continue to affect our area and as a museum that we explore those shifts to understand how our region is changing.  We also need to examine some of the people whose impact on our culture is not formally recognized but who played an important role in who and what we are today.”

With the support of the University of Maryland Anthropology Department the first community has been completed. Exhibit co-director, Anthropology Professor Paul Shackel says, “What our team developed is a collection of stories of a new, underserved community. This work is our commitment to socially conscious storytelling, which connects many of the historic narratives with the experiences of new immigrants. This virtual exhibition examines important social beliefs on class and race, and how that affects heritage building in the region.”  Co-curator Aryn G.N. Schriner says, “This exhibit, available in both English and Spanish, links the region’s past and present, connecting the experiences of Northeastern Pennsylvania’s historic residents to those of today, as their experiences are not so dissimilar.”  Co-curator Aubrey Edwards states, “The Anthracite region has a layered history of immigration and cultural contribution. This exhibit celebrates and centers newer residents who have created communities, invested in this area, and lovingly call Anthracite home.”
Over the next few years, we will partner with other community groups, not formally represented in the museum’s current exhibitions, to share their stories and understand the historic patterns of immigration, assimilation, and peripheral existence in the context of a 250-year-old American coal mining community.  Let us know if you belong to a group who would like to participate in our exhibit.  Visit