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Relentless ReformerJosephine Roche and Progressivism in Twentieth-Century America$
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Robyn Muncy

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780691122731

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691122731.001.0001

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Creating “New Values, New Realities” in the Coalfields, 1948–1956

Creating “New Values, New Realities” in the Coalfields, 1948–1956

(p.227) Chapter 14 Creating “New Values, New Realities” in the Coalfields, 1948–1956
Relentless Reformer

Robyn Muncy

Princeton University Press

This chapter details events in Josephine Roche's life from 1948 to 1956. Despite the contraction of her reforming efforts in the late 1940s, Roche had high hopes for her new work at the United Mine Workers of America Welfare and Retirement Fund. She proclaimed in fact that her goal as director of the fund was to “build new values, new realities” in America's coalfields. Remarkably, she did just that. Although initially under siege from many directions, Roche managed to build a private social welfare system that did for one group of workers what she had hoped the New Deal would do for all: guarantee world-class health care and a dignified retirement. This creative work in the private sector did not mean Roche had given up on public policy: she imagined her health program as a template for or component of a larger federal health care program that might develop somewhere down the road. But she also saw her work at the fund as a direct support to the labor movement, which she believed even more crucial now to the task of diminishing inequality.

Keywords:   Josephine Roche, United Mine Workers of America Welfare and Retirement Fund, social welfare system, health care, biography, labor movement

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