Mitch Troutman is a writer, educator, organizer, and jack-of-all-trades living in Central Pennsylvania. He is a descendant of the Pennsylvania Dutch and Polish coal bootleggers he has written about.
Mitch is also a co-founder of Anthracite Unite, a diverse, working-class collective of writers, artists, and organizers dedicated to fighting the divide and conquer strategy played against working people.
He has spent his life working in factories, warehouses, and the trades, among other places, until earning a teaching certificate and entering into local high schools. He also has a background in labor and community organizing, most notably with the Justice at Hersheys campaign and as a co-founder of Put People First PA. He has also worked on a variety of grassroots journalism projects (also known as “collaborative” or “citizen” journalism), where his rudimentary writing skills were hammered into place.
The Bootleg Coal Rebellion: The Pennsylvania Miners Who Seized an Industry, 1925–1942
Author: Mitch Troutman • Foreword by Staughton Lynd
Series: PM Press
Subjects: HISTORY / United States • POLITICAL SCIENCE / Labor & Industrial Relations
“Troutman is a gifted storyteller. Combining rich imagery and down-to-earth writing with prudent historical research, he shows us what working class people are capable of when companies push them to the brink of starvation. What the bootleggers endured and accomplished is extraordinary. You’d be hard-pressed to find a better tale of democratic rebellion anywhere, particularly one with so many lessons for today. Modern-day coal barons beware: this book will turn readers into renegades.”
—Jamie Longazel, author of Undocumented Fears: Immigration and the Politics of Divide and Conquer in Hazleton, Pennsylvania
“Using local newspapers and oral history interviews, gifted historian Mitch Troutman tells the story of the miners as the women, children, storekeepers, truckers, and priests who participated in the bootleg coal rebellion. Great read!”
—Karol Kovalovich Weaver, author of Medical Caregiving and Identity in Pennsylvania’s Anthracite Region, 1880–2000
“The most detailed account we have of coal bootlegging in the anthracite region of Pennsylvania in the Depression decade. It shows how unemployed miners took over unused mines, asserting and defending a right to mine and market the coal to support their families. Local government, the courts, and whole communities supported their efforts, writing a remarkable chapter in American labor history. We are in debt to Mitch Troutman for telling this remarkable story.”
—Thomas Dublin, Distinguished Professor Emeritus, State University of New York at Binghamton, and author of The Face of Decline: The Pennsylvania Anthracite Region in the Twentieth Century
“It is not a new discovery that ‘bootleg’ coal was widely mined in Pennsylvania coal fields during the Depression. However, Troutman’s wide-ranging research enables him to tell the story with great immediacy, at times almost person by person. We learn how dangerous this improvised mining could be when we are told in detail how often inexperienced young men (and a few women) went forth to scrape what was left off old shafts or seek to open up new veins of coal without being able properly to support the roof under which they dug. We watch as every member of the family of unemployed miners has a task capable of performance at his or her age in the improvised production process.”
—Staughton and Alice Lynd