Letter on Company Stores from M. F. Moran to Edward Robertson, Labor Commissioner, 1890
Coal companies used their financial power and their control over the land to control their labor force. The companies established settlements for workers located next to the coal mines. The company built and controlled the housing, the commissary (or store), and many of the other amenities, such as the amusement hall, available to workers and their families.
In this 1890 report on company stores in West Virginia, how did the stores function as a way to increase the leverage of the company over its workers?
What options might the workers have had to resist or avoid dependence on the company store?