Date of Award


Degree Name



College of Liberal Arts

Type of Degree


Document Type


First Advisor

Robert F. Maddox

Second Advisor

David C. Duke

Third Advisor

Carolyn Uihlein Nilles

Fourth Advisor

Leonard J. Deutsch


In the Fall of 1892, Timothy and Sarah Blizzard gave birth to a son. Timothy and Sarah began their family during a transitional period in West Virginia’s history. The couple started their lives as farmers. However, the potential income from West Virginia’s coal industry encouraged them to abandon this lifestyle and to plunge into the new industrial economy. Timothy became a miner, while Sarah took on the role of a mother living in a company town. Both became involved in the earliest organization drives of United Mine Workers of America (UMWA), whose efforts to organize the state had started only two years before the birth of the couple’s son, William.

As he matured in the coal fields of southern West Virginia, William Blizzard’s life became linked to the UMWA. His parents' involvement in the organization shaped his early development. His own participation with the organization led him to circles far removed from his birth in southern Kanawha County. In time, William would join his parents as organizers, struggling at their side during one of the worst episodes of labor violence in American history, the strikes at Paint and Cabin Creeks in southern Kanawha County in 1912 and 1913. The decades of the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s would see William Blizzard assume the offices of District 17 Vice President and President, and he rose to become a fixture on the state’s political landscape.


United Mine Workers of America – History.

Coal mines and mining – West Virginia – History.