FSA COLLECTION: Ben Shahn – “Calumet, Pennsylvania” (1935)

Hungarian miner, Calumet, Pennsylvania. Worked in the mines for thirty-four years, now sixty-three with no pension and no work. October, 1935.

Calumet is an unincorporated community in Mount Pleasant Township, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, United States. Although the United States Census Bureau includes it in a census-designated place with the nearby community of Norvelt, they are in reality two very different communities, each reflecting a different chapter in how the Great Depression affected rural Pennsylvanians. Calumet was a typical “patch town”, built by a single company to house coal miners as cheaply as possible. The closing of the Calumet mine during the Great Depression caused enormous hardship in an era when unemployment compensation and welfare payments were non-existent. On the other hand, Norvelt was created during the depression by the US federal government as a model community, intended to increase the standard of living of laid-off coal miners.[1]

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