April 10 ‘Women of Our History’ tour highlights women’s contributions to early history of New Straitsville< < Back to
History is a narrative, and to contribute to that narrative, one’s human experience must be documented in some way or another for future historians to ponder and contextualize.
Unfortunately, the lives of women and other marginalized groups are simply not as well documented as the experiences of their privileged counterparts.
Cheryl Blosser of Little Cities of Black Diamonds is one of many contemporary lovers of history doing their best to bring these often-overlooked stories to the surface.
On Sunday, April 10, Blosser will lead a tour through New Straitsville entitled “The Women of Our History,” focusing on the women who built the town just as much as their male counterparts did. Listen to WOUB’s interview with Blosser, embedded above.
“The (historical) references to women are few. You had to do something special to get attention. Some of these women were a little before their time. Many of them had just moved to a new country, and were often trying to figure out how to raise their families in sometimes very substandard company housing,” Blosser said. “Men came here with the idea that they were going to make things better. They were coming to America because men could vote, which couldn’t happen in many of the countries people were coming from. These men came with the idea that coming here would give them more say over the future. Now, the women didn’t quite have that power yet, but they were standing up and fighting alongside their men when strikes happened.”
Although the documentation of women’s experiences in those early days is scant, Blosser said we can be sure these women did their best to endure the many difficult times that would engulf mining towns such as New Straitsville.
“There’d be rough times when the strike meant that you didn’t have any money. When you might not be quite sure what side your neighbor was on — or you were telling your kids to come home, and not play on the street because you don’t know what might happen — fights and incidents broke out and you wanted your children to be safe,” she said.
“The (historical) references to women are few. You had to do something special to get attention. Some of these women were a little before their time. Many of them had just moved to a new country, and were often trying to figure out how to raise their families in sometimes very substandard company housing,” – Little Cities of Black Diamonds historian Cheryl Blosser
Blosser has embraced the challenge of learning more about these women, and looks forward to sharing what she has found.
“What am I not seeing because the news articles are so slim about anything going on with the women? Or sometimes it’s written up by a man – so it might be his attitude as to what the women are doing,” said Blosser. “So you have to really try to slide past that, get around it and see if we can get any hints that it might be a different way.”
Cheryl Blosser will lead the Women of Our History tour Sunday, April 10 from 11am to 1pm. The tour will start and end at 200 West Main Street New Straitsville. Register for the event, and buy tickets, on the Appalachian Understories website.