MORGANTOWN -- The West Virginia University Press has released its newest CD, "Coal Digging Blues: Songs of West Virginia Miners."

The CD is the eighth addition to the WVU Press Sound Archive series.

"Coal Digging Blues" was compiled by Mark Allan Jackson. Jackson, a former professor of English at WVU, is currently a professor at DePauw University in Greencastle, Ind. The CD draws upon gospel, blues and country musical influences. The musicians on this compilation explicate the hardships and hopes of Great Depression-era West Virginia coal miners.

Folklorist George Korson collected the songs and stories on the CD during his travels to mining communities in northern and eastern West Virginia in the 1940s. "Coal Digging Blues" is the very first release of the majority of songs collected by Korson. The Library of Congress included some of the songs from Korson's visit on the CD "Songs and Ballads of the Bituminous Miners." "Coal Digging Blues" features many songs performed by African-American miners -- a marginalized group in the history of mining.

"Coal Digging Blues" includes a booklet of detailed notes on the performers, their songs, and the history of coal-camp songs in West Virginia, as well as contemporary photographs.

The WVU Press was revitalized in 1999 under the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences and has been directed by Dr. Patrick Conner ever since. The Sound Archive series debuted in 1999 with the release of the "Edden Hammons Collection Volume One."

In the Sound Archive series, the WVU Press preserves and presents landmark audio events in West Virginia and Appalachian Heritage. Many of the CDs have been released from the West Virginia Regional Collection of the WVU library as well as from the National Library of Congress. The Sound Archive includes such titles as "Strange Creek Fiddling," "Work & Pray: Historic Negro Spirituals" and "Work Songs from West Virginia," and the two-volume Edden Hammons Collection.

In addition to the Sound Archive series, the WVU Press also publishes several titles in the areas of nature, history, art, literature, and medieval European studies. Their catalog also contains many West Virginia history items as well.

For more information about "Coal Digging Blues: Songs of West Virginia Miners," to request a catalog, or to place an order, visit or call 1-866-WVUPRESS.

More News