Wilkes University


“Marilyn’s Lunchbox” Examines Role of Female Coal Miner in Women’s History Month Lecture March 29 at Wilkes University

Marilyn McCusker, one of the first female coal miners in Pennsylvania, overcame gender discrimination in order to pursue work in a mine located in Rushton, Centre County in 1979.  McCusker’s lunchbox will serve as the focus for a Women’s History Month lecture, “Marilyn’s Lunchbox as a Teaching Tool for Pennsylvania History.” It will be presented by Linda Ries, retired archivist for Pennsylvania State Archives on Tuesday, March 29, at 11 a.m. in Breiseth Hall, Room 107. The lecture is sponsored by the University’s Global History and Languages Division.

McCusker’s lunchbox, now in the collections of the State Museum of Pennsylvania, can be used as a teaching tool on several levels. Topics that can be addressed using the lunchbox include a day in the life of a miner, its usage by a female coal miner at a time when men were dominant in the industry, and ultimately the status of American women in the mid-to late-twentieth century. This is an example of an artifact as a primary source and as a springboard for informed speculation about historical events.

Linda Ries is a retired archivist with the Pennsylvania State Archives, where she worked for 35 years. She maintained special collections, including photographs, and was curator for the 1681 Charter given to William Penn for the land that became Pennsylvania. She currently is the editor of Pennsylvania History, the scholarly journal of the Pennsylvania Historical Association.