The Colorado Endowment for the Humanities (CEH) announces "Work and Culture in the Southern Colorado Coal Field, 1860-1960," a summer teacher institute. The program was held in 1999 and 2000. For more information please email [email protected]. This one-week institute is especially developed for K-12 teachers, specifically those with an interest in Colorado and American history, cultural history, labor history, archaeology, and oral history.
Events in the coal field (which broadly runs between Trinidad and Walsenburg) during this time period were of national importance in changing the face of American industry, including its relationships to working men and women and its wider public image. Yet, paradoxically, this history remains "hidden" on both national and regional levels, having been swamped by histories emphasizing the romance of the Santa Fe Trail and the "opening of the West."
This institute will explore this hidden history. Topics will include the nature of industrial development in the area and its wider social and ecological context, employee-management relations, the intersection of immigration, ethnicity, and culture with these themes, and the legacy of industrial relations and labor movements in Colorado. Insights will be developed from the perspectives of history, archaeology, and literature. The Institute concept and themes developed from discussions among Board members from the Colorado Endowment for the Humanities and between Board members and Colorado teachers, which identified a need to incorporate into school curricula new scholarship on Colorado history.
Anthropology scholar Dr. Dean Saitta of the University of Denver will lead the week-long institute. Dr. Saitta is currently researching the Colorado Coal Field Strike of 1913-1914. Over the past two years he and a multi-institutional team of archaeologists have been excavating company coal camps and striker tent colonies associated with this event. The Strike culminated in the "Ludlow Massacre" of April 20, 1914, which claimed the lives of 20 people including two women and eleven children and led to 10 days of pitched battles between miners and the Colorado National Guard.
The research team is seeking to understand the everyday working conditions that led to the strike, influenced its outcome, and shaped its legacy.
Colorado's "Model Content Standards for History" (also available in PDF format) are concerned with the study of social and cultural diversity, with understanding the meaning of democracy, and with reclaiming what has traditionally been excluded from historical analysis. These concerns come together in a particularly dramatic way in southern Colorado during the time period of interest. By exploring the history and legacy of industrial relations in the southern coal field, CEH will provide teachers with the background knowledge necessary to deliver both substantive and balanced lessons to their students about the complex relationship between work and culture in Colorado and the wider American West.
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