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New Agreement Will Bring Coal Mining History to Bethlehem | WDIY Local News

Industrial Archives & Library

The records of the former Glen Alden Corporation are vital to the preservation of the industry’s and region’s history.

Now that history will be saved, according to a press release, thanks to a recent agreement between the Earth Conservancy (EC) of Ashley, Pennsylvania, and the Industrial Archives & Library (IAL) of Bethlehem. The former company’s historic records will be sent to the IAL so they can be prepared and made available to the public.

The Glen Alden Coal Company once served as both the largest producer of anthracite coal and the largest employer in Lackawanna and Luzerne counties. Its position in the industry, with 26 facilities and 34,000 employees at its peak in 1930, had a major impact on Northeast Pennsylvania’s economy until its bankruptcy in 1976.

Company records and property were eventually given to Earth Conservancy after a lengthy bankruptcy proceeding. In recent years, EC has been looking for another organization to be the final custodian of the records.

EC explained they’ve been focused on finding an organization that’s both interested in the history and that’s capable of “organizing and properly storing a project of this magnitude.” The collection currently takes up more than 20,000 feet of physical space.

Steve Donches, President and CEO of the Industrial Archives & Library, said the Bethlehem organization shares a “deep concern” that “the history of industrial America was being lost with the rapidly changing industrial landscape,” and that their mission is to preserve the history of these once-vital organizations for future generations.

The IAL believes it will take years – possibly even decades – to fully examine the collection of records. However, the work will be well worth it, considering its ability to improve our knowledge of an entire industry.

Even more exciting, Donches adds, having the collection will mean “restoring access to the community’s history.”

James is the News and Public Affairs Director for WDIY. He reports on stories in the Lehigh Valley and across the state which impact the region, along with managing WDIY's volunteers who help create the station's diverse line-up of public affairs programs.
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