In the earliest decades of the 20th century, more than twenty-eight million men and women-black and white-began "The Great Migration" north from the Deep South and Appalachia, lured by high wages and the opportunity to make a better life for themselves and their families.Among the white southerners who left their homes, literally hundreds of thousands came to work in the rubber factories of Ohio during the teens and twenties, forever changing its culture, history and politics. Who were they? Other than the throwaway term of "hillbillies," the astonishing fact is that historians really haven't had any idea at all. They tell us that no records, no memoirs, no photographs, no letters home exist for these workers during this defining period of northeast Ohio's history. However, there was one archive that none of these historians knew existed.Based on over 50 hours of previously unpublished oral histories and dozens of family photos, "On A Burning Deck, The Road to Akron," offers the only complete portrait of one family's origins in rural Kentucky, migration to Akron in 1917, and work in the rubber factories. The companion volume of this work, "Return to Akron," continues their story as the head of the family struggles to support a family during recession, depression and strike only to eventually take his place in local government, personally establishing a modern police department and shepherding his community's growth in the years following World War II.Meticulously researched, rich in detail, thoroughly referenced for historical perspective, and completely indexed with hundreds of names, this contextual oral history offers the only first-hand account of industrial Ohio's boom years. A must-read for anyone interested in 20th century history, Kentucky or Ohio history, industrial relations, local governance or genealogy, "On A Burning Deck" is a tale well-told with wry humor and deep insight into the people, the "hillbillies," who built modern industrial Ohio.
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