Work and Faith in the Kentucky Coal Fields (Hardcover)

Subject to Dust (Religion in North America)

By Richard J. Callahan

Indiana University Press, 9780253352378, 259pp.

Publication Date: January 1, 2009



Exploring themes of work and labor in everyday life, Richard J. Callahan, Jr., offers a history of how coal miners and their families lived their religion in eastern Kentucky's coal fields during the early 20th century. Callahan follows coal miners and their families from subsistence farming to industrial coal mining as they draw upon religious idioms to negotiate changing patterns of life and work. He traces innovation and continuity in religious expression that emerged from the specific experiences of coal mining, including the spaces and social structures of coal towns, the working bodies of miners, the anxieties of their families, and the struggle toward organized labor. Building on oral histories, folklore, folksongs, and vernacular forms of spirituality, this rich and engaging narrative recovers a social history of ordinary working people through religion.

About the Author

Richard J. Callahan, Jr., is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Missouri-Columbia.