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MG 273
63 items

This collection of fifty-five photographs and miscellaneous documents depicts activities of the Pennsylvania National Guard in the 1890s, a period of labor unrest in the State's anthracite coal fields. The photographs were probably taken or collected by Charles H. Burg of Harrisburg, Pa., a trooper in the Third Brigade of the Cavalry of the Governor's Troop, Pennsylvania National Guard.

The 1890s saw a change in the movement to organize anthracite coal miners. Following labor unrest in the 1880s, recent East European immigrants were stereotyped as inferior laborers. Labor leaders and others hoped to cut their influx. When existing laws failed to do this, the position of organizers shifted to place emphasis on the unionist education of growing numbers of East Europeans in mining areas. The close-knit communities and belief in worker's dignity of the Slavs, Hungarians, and Poles were recognized as potential strengths in an organization. Sporadic strikes and violence of the late 1890s culminated in a widespread, violent strike in 1902 which secured the position of the United Mine Workers in the region. The Governor's Troop of the P.N.G. under General Gobin was often called upon as a threat of force if not as active opposition to the strikers. The Spanish-American War of 1898 broke this pattern; the Troop in its entirety was mustered into Federal service for the duration of the conflict.

The photographs record the surroundings of a National Guardsman of the 1890s as well as the major campaigns of Burg's Third Brigade. Several photographs show various encampments of the Governor's Troop around the State. Items from the 1898 Puerto Rican Campaign contain camp scenes, activities on and around the troopship "Chester, " and views of natives. Images relating to the Hazelton Coal Strike and the Lattimer Massacre of September 10, 1899, depict the locale and scenes of strike activity; a burned breaker, marching strikers, Lattimer street views, the site of the shooting, and the camp of the Governor's Troop. Subjects often reflect the militancy and determination of the immigrant miners revolt.

Most of the photographs are 4" x 5" or 5" x 5" mounted albumen prints, though some are 8" x 10" and one is oversized. There are no original negatives. The pictures are grouped according to topic. Many have handwritten notes of their subjects, possibly by Burg himself. The collection also contains Burg's two certificates of discharge from the P.N.G., dated 1896 and 1898, and a photograph of a Harrisburg V.F.W. post. A copy of his enlistment papers are included with the listing.

PA State Archives Hours, Directions, & Fees Research Topics Online Catalog Land Records