"Your presentation makes it seem as if the scrip system was little different from a credit card, where miners and their families could pay off expensive purchases over time," Roberts wrote. "Nowhere is it mentioned that miners had absolutely no choice as to whether they used scrip or not. Nowhere is it mentioned that going somewhere else instead of the company store to purchase goods and equipment was an offense frequently punishable by a beating from the company's Baldwin-Felts thugs, followed by dismissal from employment and eviction from the company house."
The state spent five years and nearly $18 million to design and build the 24,000-square-foot museum, located in the basement of the Capitol Complex's Culture Center.
Wess Harris, a local labor historian, has complained for more than two years about inaccuracies in the coal exhibits in the museum and has helped coordinate an examination of those exhibits by a variety of Appalachian historians.
More than a year ago, when The Associated Press did a story about Harris and his concerns, a top aide for Tomblin who was then spokeswoman for the Culture and History division, defended the museum.
"I cannot answer you why Mr. Harris still does not think that the facts as we have presented them are correct. We continue to believe they are," said Jacqueline Proctor, who was then the agency's deputy commissioner and is now Tomblin's communications director.
"There are positions that historians take and museum developers take regarding presentation of the facts," Proctor told the AP at the time. "We do not believe that the information needs to be changed."
Reach Ken Ward Jr. at kw...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1702.