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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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Democratic Denials and Dissent at the Miners’ Welfare Fund, 1957–1963

Democratic Denials and Dissent at the Miners’ Welfare Fund, 1957–1963

(p.247) Chapter 15 Democratic Denials and Dissent at the Miners’ Welfare Fund, 1957–1963
Relentless Reformer

Robyn Muncy

Princeton University Press

This chapter details events in Josephine Roche's life from 1957 to 1963. During the late 1950s, two trends marked Roche's work at the miners' Welfare Fund. First, she reemerged into public life, having gained confidence that her latest creation was no longer at risk from hostile coal operators, anti-communist crusaders, or recalcitrant doctors. Second, her commitment to democracy eroded. By 1960, Roche had built an effective bureaucracy committed to improving health care among miners and to preserving their union. But, unlike bureaucracies Roche had assembled before, this one became frozen in its priorities and deaf to the preferences of those it claimed to serve. This attenuation of democratic commitment was one of the principal reasons that, despite the survivals of progressivism in her work at the fund, Roche could no longer be considered a progressive. Ironically, however, the lack of democracy within the fund generated such anger in the coalfields that it helped to spark the final eruption of progressive reform in twentieth-century America during the 1960s.

Keywords:   Josephine Roche, coal miners, Welfare Fund, health care, progressivism, progressive reform, biography

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