Beginning in the late nineteenth century, the Upper Ohio Valley's thriving coal, rail, steel, and pottery industries attracted a multiethnic population of eastern and southern European immigrants. Poles, Hungarians, Italians, Slovaks, and Croatians joined a growing industrial proletariat, relegated to the most dangerous and unhealthy work and facing widespread xenophobia and discrimination. Wheeling, a commercial center in West Virginia's northern panhandle since the early 1800s (a half century before western Virginia broke away from the mother state), anchored one of industrial America's many small regional networks, including Weirton and Benwood in West Virginia and Steubenville and Martins Ferry in Ohio.

William Hal Gorby tells the story of Wheeling's Polish Catholic immigrants and their American-born descendants between 1870 and 1950 as they constructed and defended their identities as Catholics and workers. Gorby concludes that the city's Polish American “unskilled” steelworkers, facing antagonism from their brethren in the dwindling crafts, formed a...

You do not currently have access to this content.