Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Mary Jack Hargis, May 28, 1994

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:00 - Introduction

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Partial Transcript: Mary Jack Hargis... uh, it's, uh, 2 o'clock Eastern Standard Time, uh, May the 28th, Saturday, 1994.

Segment Synopsis: Introductory information about the interview.

Keywords: Kentucky Historical Society; Lebanon (Va.); Women coal miners

Subjects: Kentucky Historical Society; Lebanon (Va.); Women; Women coal miners

GPS: Lebanon (Va.)
Map Coordinates: 36.900833, -82.076944
00:00:38 - Biographical information

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Partial Transcript: Uh, you go by Mary?

Segment Synopsis: General discussion of Hargis' family, parents, grandparents, and siblings. Hargis' family migrated to the region in the 1800s.

Keywords: Electricians; Farmers; Juvenile judges; Russell County (Va.); Women coal miners

Subjects: Families.; Genealogy; Juvenile justice, Administration of--Virginia.; Russell County (Va.); Women coal miners

00:02:15 - Education

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Partial Transcript: And, uh, uh, education.

Segment Synopsis: Hargis describes her education at East Tennessee State University. She came back to Lebanon, Virginia at a time when others were leaving the region.

Keywords: Elementary schools; Junior high schools; Teachers; University of Delaware; University of East Tennessee State

Subjects: East Tennessee University; Teaching; University of Delaware

00:04:36 - Working in Island Creek Mine

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Partial Transcript: Uh, what, what year then did you decide to--that you wanted to work and come back, and--

Segment Synopsis: Hargis tells how she got her first job working in the Island Creek Mine. Her first task was sweeping. Later in her career, she did varied jobs including pulling power cable. Pulling cable is distinguished from the work of electricians, which requires training and a license.

Keywords: Island Creek; Power cables; Red Hat

Subjects: Electric cables; Island Creek Coal Company

00:07:51 - Other mining jobs

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Partial Transcript: And, uh, so--(coughs)--um, what other jobs did you have in there?

Segment Synopsis: Hargis discusses employment layoffs and being the only coal miner in her family.

Keywords: Buggies; Clinchfield Coal Company; Coal crews; Layoffs; Registered quarter horses; Retirement

Subjects: Clinchfield Coal Company; Coal mines and mining; Layoff systems--United States

00:10:17 - Differences between teaching and mining

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Partial Transcript: Now let me ask you this, since, since, uh, you, I'm sure it has been, uh, different.

Segment Synopsis: Hargis discusses the differences between working in the coal mine as opposed to teaching. With teaching, you bring a lot of work home after a full day of work. With coal mining, when you leave at the end of your shift, you don't bring any work home. Miners tell jokes, but they don't tell a lot of jokes around the women because of sexual harassment lawsuits.

Keywords: Humor; Jokes; Mining; Sexual harassment; Teaching

Subjects: Blue collar workers; Coal mines and mining; Humor; Sexual harassment; Teachers; Teaching

00:12:50 - Mine layoffs

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Partial Transcript: What are you, um--what do you see, in terms of the--you've got so much seniority, I guess that you weren't worried about getting laid off unless--

Segment Synopsis: Even with high seniority, there is a great deal of uncertainty with mining layoffs. Layoffs are handled by seniority ranking.

Keywords: Layoffs; Seniority; Unemployment

Subjects: Layoff systems; Seniority, Employee

00:13:51 - Making a living in the coal mining region

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Partial Transcript: What do you see happening, out there in the, in the, um, well before I say, ans-- before I ask you that question, when you came home, you said you wanted to come home...

Segment Synopsis: Hargis discusses how coal mining work paid better than teaching. She has not been able to save any money over the years.

Keywords: Coal mining; Employment; Saving money; Teaching

Subjects: Employment and society:Coal mines and mining; Saving and investment--United States; Teachers

00:15:17 - The future outlook for people in the coal region / a belt examiner's job

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Partial Transcript: Um, okay, uh, Mary Jack, when you look in the--down the road for what's going to happen in the future and what do you see happening?

Segment Synopsis: Hargis feels that standard of living will go down, and young people will have to leave the area unless industry comes in that pays better than minimum wage. Young people will need a high school education. People will work in technology, computers, public service, and nursing jobs. Hargis describes her job in the mine. She is a belt examiner. She walks between 5 miles and 18 miles in a shift examining belts. When Hargis finds a problem with the belt, she calls management, who solves the problem.

Keywords: Belt examiners; Computers; Minimum wage; Nursing; Public service; Standard of living; Technology; Youth

Subjects: Minimum wage; Service industries workers; Service industries--Wages; Technology

00:19:13 - Looking forward to retirement

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Partial Transcript: Okay, let's see, and, um, you told us what you did.

Segment Synopsis: Hargis explains her expectations for retirement. Hargis will raise American Quarter Horses in her retirement. She would not make any changes in her life. She has met a lot of good people.

Keywords: American quarter horses; Retirement

Subjects: Quarter horse; Retirement