May 24, 2022

Penn State University Libraries: Labor Unions Digitized Collections Project Completed

From Penn. St. University Libraries:

 Following three years of digitization and preparation, Penn State University Libraries has made available a vast collection of archival materials documenting the 20th-century American working-class experience, including the largest and most significant record series within the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) archives.

Beneath the Surface and Cast in Steel: Forging the American Industrial Union Movement” is the end result of a two-year grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s Digitizing Hidden Special Collections and Archives awards program. The project’s purpose is twofold: to increase the visibility of these rich historical materials to national and international scholars, and to inform collaborative efforts to further document this intersection of labor and social history.

The $239,000 grant was administered by the Council on Library and Information Resources, an independent nonprofit organization that forges strategies to enhance research, teaching and learning environments in collaboration with libraries, cultural institutions and communities of higher learning. The Digitizing Hidden Special Collections and Archives program supports the creation of digital representations of unique content of high scholarly significance that will be usable as elements of a cohesive national collection.


“Beneath the Surface and Cast in Steel” joins more than 135 University Libraries digital collections on topics ranging from agriculture to world history. An estimated 377,000 pages of manuscripts and mixed-material printed items, photographs, scrapbooks, survey materials, panoramic images, and correspondence are currently accessible online at the Beneath the Surface and Cast in Steel site and through the Libraries’ website.

Direct to Beneath the Surface and Cast in Steel

Direct to PSU Libraries Digital Collections

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.