Men and Dust

In a previous post, we covered Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins’ visit to Joplin in 1940. The reason for Perkins’ visit was to participate in the Tri-State Silicosis Conference, a gathering of industry and labor leaders to investigate and highlight the danger of silicosis. At the conclusion of the conference, a brief documentary film simply titled Men and Dust was shown in the Connor Hotel. The film was produced by the noted Great Depression era photographer Sheldon Dick. Only sixteen minutes long, the film focused on the the danger posed by silicosis generated by the dust created by lead and zinc mining. Dick’s film is surprisingly experimental with a unsettling score and a dramatic narration that has a jarring effect on the viewer.  It is an important piece of Joplin’s history because of its haunting advocacy for the welfare of the region’s miners and their families and its stark images of  the men who worked the Tri-State Mining District during the Depression era.

We encourage everyone to view it who has a chance.


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2 Responses to “Men and Dust”


  • Comment from Lanna Gaines

    Thanks for this great piece of information. The film is a thought provoking film even today.

  • Comment from marty Kennedy

    My grandfather was a miner. He died of Miner’s TB in 1927.My dad was only 5yrs old. He died in the TB ward of the veterans hospital. He is buried in Hillcrest cemetery in Galena. Very sad. I never go to know my grandfather. His family was from Joplin. Martin family.


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