18 spellbinding pictures that tell the story of coal country's past and present.

Coal has been part of America's past for just about as long as there's been an America.

It was the energy source du jour for the Industrial Revolution. In the 1300s, some Native Americans used it for cooking fuel. And the first North American coal deposits may even predate the dinosaurs!

But if we're talking America the post-colonial country, then nowhere was it more important than in the Appalachian Mountains, in places like Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Tennessee, and West Virginia.


Unfortunately, what coal mining looked like back then and what coal mining looks like now are stunningly different. According a new study, coal mining is actually changing the entire landscape of Appalachia.

So let's jump in the Wayback Machine to 1930s Appalachia and see what things were like (and how things have changed for the better and worse) in 18 pictures:

1. Everyone looked dapper as hell back in 1935.


Sunday, 1935. Image from The New York Public Library.

2. Including this ridiculously photogenic schoolteacher.

Schoolteacher in Red House, West Virginia, 1935. Image from The New York Public Library.

3. Who may have actually taught in this somewhat photogenic classroom.

School in Red House, 1935. Image from The New York Public Library.

4. Check out the awesome kid in the front. Respect.

Schoolchildren of Omar, West Virginia. Date unknown. Image from The New York Public Library.

Unfortunately, the kids in this picture and the one above it probably wouldn't have been seen in the same classroom. Segregation was still very much a thing in the '30s, which meant that many public spaces, including schools, were divided by race. Things would largely remain this way until the mid-1960s.

5. Outside of school and work, people went to the movies – which cost a dime.

Movie theater in Omar, 1935. Image from The New York Public Library.

6. They entertained themselves by playing music.

Musicians in Maynardville, Tennessee, 1935. Image from Ben Shahn/Wikimedia Commons.

Appalachia is home to some of America's richest musical traditions, including country and bluegrass.

7. They even "pirated" football games.

Men watching football in Star City, West Virginia, 1935. Image from The New York Public Library.

If by "pirated" you mean "watched through a fence while nobody was looking."

8. This is Williamson, West Virginia, in 1935.

Image from The New York Pubic Library.

It's changed a lot since then.

9. This is Williamson in 2008.

Image from Flo Night/Wikimedia Commons.

Williamson is home to the Williamson Rail Yard, which serviced the many coal mines in the region.

10. Coal miners worked long hours in dark, dangerous mines.

Coal miners in Kentucky, 1935. Image from The New York Public Library.

11. Coal mining was tough, dangerous work.

Slate pickers separating the coal from rock in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Date unknown. Image from The New York Public Library.

Coal mining required workers to do backbreaking labor in cramped conditions, often deep underground.

12. But it was honorable work and, for many people, the best way to provide for their families.

A coal miner with his family in 1938. Image from The New York Public Library.

13. As much respect as we have for coal miners of the past, it can be hard to support the industry today. Because in 1935, coal mining looked like this:

Image from The New York Public Library.

14. But now, coal mining looks like this:

GIF from Smithsonian Channel/YouTube.

See how flat that is? A lot of modern coal companies use a technique known as mountaintop removal mining to get at the remaining coal seams tucked deep into the mountains.

15. Mountaintop removal mining is exactly what it sounds like: blasting away the entire top of a mountain to get to the coal below.

Image from ilovemountains.org/Flickr.

This practice is widespread throughout coal country. In fact, a new study found that the area of study became 40% flatter after mountaintop removal mining. This has a lot of people worried about the effects on the geology and ecosystems in the area.

"Even if we stopped mountaintop mining tomorrow, what kind of landscape is going to be left behind?" said study author Emily S. Bernhardt.

16. Even more worrisome is what mountaintop removal mining may be doing to the water.

Image from ilovemountains.org/Flickr.

Excess rock and refuse often ends up dumped in gigantic piles in the valleys and streams below the mountain. Heavy metals and chemicals can leach out of the pile into the waterway, affecting any animals or people downstream.

17. The hardworking men and women who've done this job for generations deserve respect. But ... there's a better way.

Coal is an intimate part of Appalachia's history and the last thing we want to do is claim that it's not important. But Appalachia has a long history of renewables too. They've had hydroelectric power plants for over 100 years!

A wind farm in Somerset, Pennsylvania. Image from Jeff Kubina/Flickr.

Even though coal production has been falling in the last few years, many coal companies are indicating that they want to double down on mountaintop removal mining.

But now that we know how harmful coal mining can be for the environment and have the technology and wherewithal to do something different, we can and should be looking elsewhere for our electricity.

18. Then maybe, just maybe, we can leave the dangerous job of coal mining and its effects on the environment where they belong: in the past.

Coal miners in Williamson, 1935. Image from The New York Public Library.

Heroes

On an old episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in July 1992, Oprah put her audience through a social experiment that puts racism in a new light. Despite being nearly two decades old, it's as relevant today as ever.

She split the audience members into two groups based on their eye color. Those with brown eyes were given preferential treatment by getting to cut the line and given refreshments while they waited to be seated. Those with blue eyes were made to put on a green collar and wait in a crowd for two hours.

Staff were instructed to be extra polite to brown-eyed people and to discriminate against blue-eyed people. Her guest for that day's show was diversity expert Jane Elliott, who helped set up the experiment and played along, explaining that brown-eyed people were smarter than blue-eyed people.

Watch the video to see how this experiment plays out.

Oprah's Social Experiment on Her Audience www.youtube.com

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On September 4, Cadbury released the limited-edition candy bars in supermarkets and for every one sold, the candy giant will donate 30p (37 cents) to Age UK, an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for the elderly.

Cadbury was prompted to help the organization after it was revealed that 225,000 elderly people in the UK often go an entire week without speaking to another person.

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Young people today are facing what seems to be greater exposure to complex issues like mental health, bullying, and youth violence. As a result, teachers are required to be well-versed in far more than school curriculum to ensure students are prepared to face the world inside and outside of the classroom. Acting as more than teachers, but also mentors, counselors, and cheerleaders, they must be equipped with practical and relevant resources to help their students navigate some of the more complicated social issues – though access to such tools isn't always guaranteed.

Take Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, for example, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years, and as a teacher for seven. Entering the profession, she didn't anticipate how much influence a student's home life could affect her classroom, including "students who lived in foster homes" and "lacked parental support."

Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience, says it can be difficult to create engaging course work that's applicable to the challenges students face. "I think that sometimes, teachers don't know where to begin. Teachers are always looking for ways to make learning in their classrooms more relevant."

So what resources do teachers turn to in an increasingly fractured world? "Joining a professional learning network that supports and challenges thinking is one of the most impactful things that a teacher can do to support their own learning," Anglemyer says.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience.

A new program for teachers that offers this network along with other resources is the WE Teachers Program, an initiative developed by Walgreens in partnership with ME to WE and Mental Health America. WE Teachers provides tools and resources, at no cost to teachers, looking for guidance around the social issues related to poverty, youth violence, mental health, bullying, and diversity and inclusion. Through online modules and trainings as well as a digital community, these resources help them address the critical issues their students face.

Jessica Mauritzen, a high school Spanish teacher, credits a network of support for providing her with new opportunities to enrich the learning experience for her students. "This past year was a year of awakening for me and through support… I realized that I was able to teach in a way that built up our community, our school, and our students, and supported them to become young leaders," she says.

With the new WE Teachers program, teachers can learn to identify the tough issues affecting their students, secure the tools needed to address them in a supportive manner, and help students become more socially-conscious, compassionate, and engaged citizens.

It's a potentially life-saving experience for students, and in turn, "a great gift for teachers," says Dr. Sanderlin.

"I wish I had the WE Teachers program when I was a teacher because it provides the online training and resources teachers need to begin to grapple with these critical social issues that plague our students every day," she adds.

In addition to the WE Teachers curriculum, the program features a WE Teachers Award to honor educators who go above and beyond in their classrooms. At least 500 teachers will be recognized and each will receive a $500 Walgreens gift card, which is the average amount teachers spend out-of-pocket on supplies annually. Teachers can be nominated or apply themselves. To learn more about the awards and how to nominate an amazing teacher, or sign up for access to the teacher resources available through WE Teachers, visit walgreens.com/metowe.

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"Men as well as women tend to establish the worth of individual women primarily by the way their body looks, research shows. We do not do this when we evaluate men," Naomi Ellemers Ph.D. wrote in Psychology Today.

Dr. Ellers believes that this tendency to judge a woman solely on her looks causes them to be seen as an object rather than a person.

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