DuBOIS — Marcia Biderman, a New York Times reporter and author of a book “A Mighty Force: Dr. Elizabeth Hayes and Her War for Public Health,” will be the guest speaker at the DuBois Area Historical Society’s 13th Annual Spring Luncheon.
Lunch, held for the first time since 2019 due to COVID, is scheduled for Saturday, March 19 at noon at Christ Lutheran Church, 875 Sunflower Drive, DuBois. The cost to attend is $13 per person for a lunch of wedding soup, macaroni salad, Subway sandwich and dessert. Reservation deadline is March 15 and should be mailed to the DuBois Area Historical Society, Attention: Ruth, PO Box 401, DuBois, Pa. 15801.
Crime novelist turned biographer Marcia Biederman writes meticulously researched non-fiction that reads like a detective story. A longtime freelancer for The New York Times, she’s written more than 150 articles for The Times on everything from ice dancing to fixing automobile wheels. She was a reporter for Crain’s New York Business and her work has appeared in New York magazine, the New York Observer, Christian Science Monitor and Newsday. Before discovering her passion for biography, she published three detective novels and contributed a short story to Best of Sisters in Crime, edited by Marilyn Wallace.
In “A Mighty Force: Dr. Elizabeth Hayes and Her War for Public Health,” Biederman tells the story of life as a resident of the Force, Pennsylvania, and the conflict with the coal companies.
In the second half of 1945, news of the end and aftermath of the war shared space with reports of a battle on the home front, led by a woman, Elizabeth O. Hayes, MD, physician to a coal company that owned the town of Force, where sewage contaminated drinking water and ambulances plowed through muddy unpaved roads while corrupt managers, housed in Manhattan skyscrapers, refused to bring improvements.
When Hayes resigned to protest intolerable living conditions, 350 miners followed her on strike, shaking the city’s foundations and drawing a national media storm. The press – including female reporters, temporarily assigned to wartime national press offices – flocked to the small mining town to champion Dr Hayes’ cause. Slender, blonde, and 33, “Dr. Betty” became the heroine of an environmental drama that captured the nation’s attention, complete with villains, surprises, setbacks, and a generally happy ending.
The media applauded his initiative. Woody Guthrie wrote a song about her. Soldiers followed his progress in the military newspaper Stars and Stripes, flooding it with fan mail. A Philadelphia newspaper recommended Dr. Betty’s prescription to others: “Rx: Get Good and Angry. President Harry S. Truman referred his grievances to his Department of Justice, which earned him a victory.
A Mighty Force is the only book, popular or academic, written about Hayes. Fortunately, a fascinated press captured Hayes’ words and deeds in dozens of reports. Author Marcia Biederman uses these articles, written by major news outlets and small local newspapers, as well as interviews with descendants, letters written by opponents of Hayes, union records, court records, a scrapbook observers, data on a mining company, and oral history from a reporter to tell the story of Dr. Betty and her pursuit of public health for the first time.
In addition to his presentation, Biederman will have copies of his book for sale at the luncheon.
The DuBois Area Historical Society opened its anniversary programs with the screening of a 40-minute video taken during DuBois’ 125th anniversary celebration. Fifteen members and guests attended the program.
Upcoming events include the 13th Spring Walk at Historic Morningside Cemetery in DuBois on Saturday, May 7, departing at 10:30 a.m. from the Cemetery Administration Building. The program is free and open to everyone. Participants are reminded not to park their vehicle on the grass.
Buck’s Pizza in DuBois will be hosting a “Dinner for a Cause” for the Society on May 16-17. Vouchers are available from Society members and can be printed from the Society’s website www.duboishs.com.