Abstract

This article documents personal lives in a Calabrian village in south Italy and the Fairmont Coalfield in northcentral West Virginia. It reveals the fracturing of families through emigration, betrayal, divorce, and death but, also, the Appalachian redemption of an immigrant woman. A range of primary sources is used, from West Virginia records of a mining disaster and a divorce to Italian police reports and interviews. Paesani (fellow villagers) guided the research not only in identifying emigration patterns but also patterns in leasing coal company housing; in deaths of women, children, and miners; in replacement of wives; and in recruitment of company labor. This research offers comparative glimpses into transformations in intimacy, inter-gender power, paid labor, and home production.

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