Miner Helmets

Various Helmets dating from the 1900s to 1950s.

Miners’ helmets and caps in the U.S. were initially used more for the utilitarian purpose of having a place to hold a lamp while the miner worked. They were later developed into a safety device to protect the miner.

In the United States, the E.D. Bullard Company was a mining equipment firm in California, created by Edward Dickinson Bullard in 1898, who was in the industrial safety business for 20 years. The company sold protective hats, but they were only made of leather. His son, E.W. Bullard, arrived home from World War I with a steel helmet, which provided him with an idea to improve industrial safety. In 1919 Bullard patented a “Hard-Boiled Hat”, made of steamed canvas, glue and black paint. That same year the U.S. Navy commissioned Bullard to create a shipyard protective cap, which began the widespread use of hard hats. Not long after, Bullard developed an internal suspension that would provide a more effective hat.

Info Provided By: http://miningartifacts.homestead.com/

Published in: on May 24, 2011 at 4:46 pm  Comments Off on Miner Helmets  
Tags: , , , , ,

91 Years Ago Today

Published in: on May 19, 2011 at 10:00 am  Comments Off on 91 Years Ago Today  
Tags: , ,

Bordie Helmet

The Brodie helmet, called Helmet, steel, Mark I helmet in Britain and the M1917 Helmet in the U.S., was a steel combat helmet designed and patented in 1915 by the Briton John Leopold Brodie. Known in the US as the “tin hat” and “doughboy helmet.”

It was first introduced to the United States Armed Forces when they entered the war late in 1917. The United States government initially purchased some 400,000 helmets from Britain. From January 1918 the U.S. Army began to use helmets manufactured in the U.S. and these helmets were designated M1917. None of the steel helmets were intended to protect against bullets, but aimed at reducing head-wounds from shrapnel.

These sorts of helmets can be found in a number of original photos from the era by the miners and members of Chafin’s militia since many of them were veterans of the First World War.

Published in: on May 18, 2011 at 3:48 pm  Comments (1)  
Tags: , , , ,

Chambray Shirts

Chambray material originated in Cambrai, Northern France, where the fabric was first designed and used to create sunbonnets in the late 1500s AD. Chambray is a strong fabric with a smooth surface, designed with a tight weave. The material is soft and comfortable. It has a very soft coloring, which causes it to appear with a faded look. Chambray is easy to sew and wears well, yet wrinkles easily unless crease resistant. This makes it ideal for work wear. It was famously adopted by the US navy in 1901 right through to World War II.


Published in: on May 11, 2011 at 4:43 pm  Comments Off on Chambray Shirts  
Tags: , , , , , , ,

The History of Overalls

While we have discussed a little bit about overalls before, this will be a quick study of the evolution of the overalls up until the 1930s.

The first “modern” examples of overalls comes around the 1830s. The painting above is called “In The Woodshed” by James Clonney, c. 1838. It shows the apron is a clear separate piece sewn to the waist of the trousers and is made of two pieces.

By the 1850s, the overalls became a single piece and worn over the trousers. The standard colors slowly become standardized with white being for painters, pin stripped for rail road workers, and finally the blue shades for the rest of the working class.


Overalls tended to be a mass produced item of clothing with the first commercial “do it at home” patterns for these garments coming out in the early 1870’s. The straps are generally fairly narrow and can be either stitched or buttoned at the rear and at this time it seems that pre-1874 overalls usually have a button instead of a buckle to secure the straps in place on front of the chest. This style would remain similar in pattern until the early 1900s with some stylistic changes.

The one-piece work overall arrived in 1891-1916 to fit over a shirt or vest and trousers. The most common material for overalls for this period is going to be denim and to a lesser extent waterproof material. The slits tend to be reinforced to prevent tearing. The garments for this time period can be without pockets but it seems that two patch pockets in the front below the waist level is very common as are two back patch pockets in addition. Pockets on the bib are correct for this time period but they don’t appear to be as large as modern examples.

This final example is from a pair of overalls that date from the late 20s.

Published in: on May 10, 2011 at 8:03 pm  Comments Off on The History of Overalls  
Tags: , , , ,

Striking Miners

These are a series of photographs of striking miners in WV by Horydczak, Theodor, ca. 1920. Hopefully, these will help give more examples of what sort of clothing was worn at the time.

Published in: on May 10, 2011 at 5:09 pm  Comments Off on Striking Miners  
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Bituminous Coal Heritage Foundation Museum


One place we recommend visiting while doing research on Blair Mountain and mining history of Southern West Virgina is the Bituminous Coal Heritage Foundation Museum. They have a vast collection of period pieces that date from the 1800s to the present, including artifacts from the Battle of Blair Mountain and other primary sources.

As their website states, they are “preserving the heritage of the Southern WV coal fields through Miner’s tools, photographs, oral history tapes, company records and other pieces of the state’s mining history.

It was established in 1999 and is housed in the former Madison Post Office that was built in 1924.

Open Monday through Friday 12PM-4PM
347 Main Street, Boone County, Madison, WV 25130
Contact: Larry V. Lodato, Phone: 304-369-5180 or 9118,Fax: 304-369-9130,
Email: boonedevcorp@yahoo.com
Website: http://www.wvcoalmuseum.org
Located in downtown Madison, West Virgina. US Rt. 119 (Corridor G) Take the Danville-Madison Exit, go two miles to Madison.

Published in: on May 4, 2011 at 8:43 pm  Comments Off on Bituminous Coal Heritage Foundation Museum  
Tags: , , ,