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M. H. Ross papers

Identifier: L2001-05

Scope and Content of the Papers

The Ross papers (1916-1987) contain information pertaining to labor, politics, social issues of the twentieth century, coal mining and its resulting lifestyle, as well as photographs and audio materials. The collection is made up of five different accessions; L2001-05, which is contained in boxes one through 104, L2002-09 in boxes 106 through 120, L2006-16 in boxes 105 and 120, L2011-01 in boxes 120-121, and L2012-20 in boxes 122-125.

The campaign materials consist of items from the 1940 and 1948 political campaigns in which Ross participated. These items include campaign cards, posters, speech transcripts, news clippings, rally materials, letters to voters, and fliers.

Organizing and arbitration materials covers labor organizing events from "Operation Dixie" in Georgia, the furniture workers in North Carolina, and the Mine-Mill workers in the Western United States. Organizing materials include fliers, correspondence, news articles, radio transcripts, and some related photos. Arbitration files consist of agreements, decisions, and agreement booklets.

The social and political research files cover a wide time period (1930s to the late 1970s/early 1980s). The topics include mainly the Ku Klux Klan, racism, Communism, Red Scare, red baiting, United States history, and literature. These files consist mostly of news and journal articles.

Ross interacted with coal miners while doing work for the United Mine Workers Association (UMWA) and while working at the Fairmont Clinic in West Virginia. Included in these related files are books, news articles, journals, UMWA reports, and coal miner oral histories conducted by Ross.

Tying in to all of the activities Ross participated in during his life were his research and manuscript files. He wrote numerous newspaper and journal articles on history and labor. Later, as he worked for the UMWA and at the Fairmont Clinic, he wrote more in-depth articles about coal miners, their lifestyle, and medical problems they faced (while the Southern Labor Archives has many of Ross's coal mining and lifestyle articles, it does not have any of his medical articles). Along with these articles are the research files Ross collected to write them, which consist of notes, books, and newspaper and journal articles.

In additional to his professional career, Ross was adamant about documenting his and his wife's family history in the oral history format. Of particular interest are the recordings of his interviews with his wife's family - they were workers, musicians, and singers of labor and folk songs.

Finally, in this collection are a number of photographs and slides, which include images of organizing, coal mining (from the late 19th through 20th centuries), and Appalachia. Of note is a small photo album from the 1930s which contains images from the Summer School for Workers, and more labor organizing. A few audio items are available as well, such as Ross political speeches and an oral history in which Ross was interviewed by his daughter, Jane Ross Davis in 1986. All photographic and audio-visual materials are at the end of their respective series.


  • Creation: 1916-1987


Restrictions on Access

Collection is open for research use.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

Georgia State University is the owner of the physical collection and makes reproductions available for research, subject to the copyright law of the United States and item condition. Georgia State University may or may not own the rights to materials in the collection. It is the researcher's responsibility to verify copyright ownership and obtain permission from the copyright holder before publication, reproduction, or display of the materials beyond what is reasonable under copyright law. Researchers may quote selections from the collection under the fair use provision of copyright law.

Some copyright restrictions may apply to photographs. Permission must be obtained from the owner of the physical property and the holder of the copyright. It is the particular responsibility of the researcher to obtain both sets of permission.

Any use of the M. H. Ross manuscript must carry a credit reading: "M. H. Ross. Title, date: page numbers (unpublished). M. H. Ross papers, Southern Labor Archives, Georgia State University."

Biography of M. H. Ross

Myron Howard "Mike" Ross was born November 9, 1919 in New York City. He dropped out of school when he was seventeen and moved to Texas, where he worked on a farm. From 1936 until 1939, Ross worked in a bakery in North Carolina. In the summer of 1938, he attended the Southern School for Workers in Asheville, North Carolina. During the fall of 1938, Ross would attend the first Southern Conference on Human Welfare in Birmingham, Alabama. He would attend this conference again in 1940 in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

From 1939 to 1940, Ross worked for the United Mine Workers Non-Partisan League in North Carolina, working under John L. Lewis. He was hired as a union organizer by the United Mine Workers of America, and sent to Saltville, Virginia and Rockwood, Tennessee. In 1940, Ross ran for a seat on city council on the People's Platform in Charlotte, North Carolina. During this time, he also married Anne "Buddie" West of Kennesaw, Georgia.

From 1941 until 1945, Ross served as an infantryman for the United States Army. He sustained injuries near the Battle of the Bulge in the winter of 1944.

From 1945 until 1949, Ross worked for the International Union of Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers, then part of the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO), as a union organizer. He was sent to Macon, Georgia, Savannah, Georgia and to Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where he worked with the United Furniture Workers Union. He began handling arbitration for the unions.

In 1948, Ross ran for United States Congress on the Progressive Party ticket in North Carolina. He also served as the secretary for the North Carolina Progressive Party.

Ross attended the University of North Carolina law school from 1949 to 1952. He graduated with honors but was denied the bar on the grounds of "character." From 1952 until 1955, he worked for the Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers as a union organizer, first in New Mexico (potash mines) and then in Arizona (copper mines).

From 1955 to 1957, Ross attended the Columbia University School of Public Health. He worked for the United Mine Workers of America Welfare and Retirement Fund from 1957 to 1958, where he represented the union in expenditure of health care for mining workers. By 1958, Ross began plans for what would become the Fairmont Clinic, a prepaid group practice in Fairmont, West Virginia, which had the mission of providing high quality medical care for miners and their families. From 1958 until 1978, Ross served as administrator of the Fairmont Clinic.

As a result of this work, Ross began researching coal mining, especially coal mining lifestyle, heritage and history of coal mining and disasters. He would interview over one hundred miners (coal miners). Eventually, Ross began writing a manuscript about the history of coal mining.

Working for the Rural Practice Program of the University of North Carolina from 1980 until 1987, Ross taught in the medical school. M. H. Ross died on January 31, 1987 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.


51.96 Linear Feet (in 125 boxes)

Language of Materials



Myron Howard "Mike" Ross, was born November 9, 1919. Ross worked with a number of unions as an organizer, arbitrator, and advocate in the South. He ran for elective office in North Carolina on the Progressive Party ticket. After receiving public health training, he founded the Fairmont (West Virginia) Clinic, which had the mission of providing high quality medical care for miners and their families. Administering the clinic 1958-1978, Ross developed a longstanding interest in coal miners and worked on writing a history of them. The M. H. Ross papers consists of campaign materials from congressional races held in 1940 and 1948, labor union activities, social and political research, coal mining research, including a large collection of coal miner oral histories, manuscripts and those related research files, office files, photographs, audio/visual materials, and personal and family oral histories.

Organization of the Papers

  • Series I. Progressive Party and Political Campaigns
  • Series II. Organizing and Arbitration
  • Series III. Social and Political Research
  • Series IV. Coal and Appalachia
  • Series V. Manuscript and Research files
  • Series VI. Healthcare and Administrative Files
  • Series VII. Personal and Family History
  • Series VIII. Labor and Folk Songs and Music

Acquisition Information

Donated by Jane Ross Davis, 2001-2012, accession numbers L2001-05, L2002-09, L2006-16, L2011-01, and L2012-20.

Digital Access

The entire M. H. Ross papers, with the exception of some grievance files and newspaper clippings, are available online at Georgia State University Digital Collections.

Separated Materials

The collection includes the Ross library, periodicals and journals. All books are currently being cataloged with Library of Congress identification and will be placed in the Georgia State University's OPAC--On-line Public Access Catalog.

Processing Information

Original accession processed by DeAnna Janecek at the file level, 2001.

M. H. Ross:
A Guide to His Papers at Georgia State University Library
Georgia State University Library
December 2001
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Repository

100 Decatur St., S.E.
Atlanta, Georgia 30303
404-413-2881 (Fax)