Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences



Committee Chair

Ken Fones-Wolf

Committee Co-Chair

Elizabeth Fones-Wolf

Committee Member

Elizabeth Fones-Wolf

Committee Member

William Gorby


This thesis will examine the events around the formation of the Progressive Miners of America and the early years of their existence. The period covered will begin in the early 1900s and cover the coal industry broadly and the specific events that occurred in Illinois leading to the Progressives formation in 1932. Events occurring within the United Mine Workers that influenced Progressive members will also be discussed at length. From there, this thesis will examine the union’s reliance on a legal strategy to gain recognition from coal operators, its interactions with the various levels of government, and the violence that defined the union between 1932 and 1938. This thesis will finally examine the decision to affiliate with the American Federation of Labor and examine how the events of the 1930s ultimately shaped the Progressive Miners.

This thesis will differ from previous works in two major ways. The first will be the types of sources utilized. Oral histories, not available for the earliest historical works on the Progressives, will be utilized alongside newspaper sources and historical documents. This will present new topics for discussion, such as the radical minority within the Progressives and the long view of events that led to the union’s formation. This presents a more complex image of the Progressives and allows for the inclusion of individualism within the union’s history. The second are the conclusions that will be drawn in by the end of the thesis. These conclusions will cover the lasting legacy of the Progressives.