Colorado Coalfield War Project

The fire set by the Colorado National Guard completely destroyed the Ludlow Tent Colony on April 20, 1914.  Striking miners had dug cellars underneath the tents for storage, warmth, and protection against gunfire. During the fire, the wooden floors under the tents collapsed, dumping household contents into the cellars below. After the fire, the cellars became trash pits for returning strikers and the Red Cross workers that cleaned up the fire debris.

Beginning in 1997, the Colorado Coalfield War Project conducted seven years of archaeological excavations at the Ludlow Tent Colony Site.  This project included one summer of excavations at the coal company town of Berwind for a comparison of the lifestyles of the miners and their families before and after the strike.  Artifacts recovered from the cellars such as remnants of furniture, household utensils, dishes, clothing, children's toys, medicine bottles, canned foods, and personal items like jewelry and religious medallions provide insights into the daily lives of striking miners and their families.

In its inception, The Colorado Coalfield War Project established two goals. Not only did the project intend to “raise public awareness” of the Colorado Coalfield Strike of 1913-1914, but also wanted “to gain a better understanding of how the southern coalfield strike was rooted in the camp’s material conditions and how the conditions of daily life change[d] as a result of the strike” (Larkin 2009:69). The Colorado Coalfield War Project designed its research to investigate what life was like before, during, and after the strike, and used the community and the household as scales for analysis.

For more information on the Colorado Coalfield War Project, click here:
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