Care Beyond the Coalfields
Maya Sandler is currently undertaking a research project specifically examining this transfer of the Miners’ Memorial Hospital Association from the United Mine Workers of America to the Appalachian Regional Healthcare, Inc. in 1963. While several historians have noted the importance of the MMHA, due to their physical presence and technical innovations in this under-served region, scholars have yet to examine the ways that local communities engaged with and defined themselves in terms of these medical establishments. Through the lens of this specific paper, she intends to gain a deeper understanding of the materials available that depict the engagement of local Appalachian communities in larger state and federal conversations surrounding health care access during this time period.
Thus Maya uses funds awarded from the Collaboration to conduct archival and community research in Appalachia this spring and summer. The first priority is to take a brief trip to Nashville, Tennessee in March, to assess and prioritize archival plans for the summer. While in Nashville, she’d investigate the collections of the Tennessee Department of Health and the Highlander School hearings at the Tennessee State Archives. Then also briefly visit the archives at Meharry Medical College, to further investigate the role of doctor and activist Leslie Falk, who advocated widely for miners on occupational health issues. In addition, she would attend Vanderbilt’s “The Politics of Health in the US South” conference to be held on March 17th and 18th. This interdisciplinary conference will specifically address topics of health activism in the region, and emphasize the necessity of developing historical projects that connect to important health questions in the region today.
Following this shorter trip, Maya would plan to return in the summer for a more substantial inquiry into various archives in Tennessee, including the oral histories at Eastern Tennessee State University, as well as relevant collections at Appalachian State in North Carolina. This archival work will provide a clear understanding of the ways that rural activists framed health issues around demands for inclusion, and the ways that rural communities articulated their group identities, as well as their material needs.