Biederman Guest Speaker For Luncheon

February 15, 2022 at 10:31 PM


 A reservation form is available here.

   Marcia Biederman (left), New York Times journalist and author of a book "A Mighty Force:  Dr. Elizabeth Hayes and Her War for Public Health," will be the guest speaker for the DuBois Area Historical Society's 13th Spring Luncheon.

     The luncheon, being 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 featuring wedding soup, macaroni salad, Subway sandwich and desert. Reservation deadline is March 15 and should be sent to the DuBois Area Historical Society, Attention: Ruth, P. O. Box 401, DuBois, Pa. 15801.

      A mystery novelist-turned-biographer, Marcia Biederman writes meticulously researched nonfiction that reads like a detective story. As a longtime freelancer for the New York Times, she wrote more than 150 pieces for the Times on everything from ice dancing to automobile wheel repair. She was a staff reporter for Crain’s New York Business, and her work has appeared in New York magazine, the New York Observer, the Christian Science Monitor, and Newsday. Before discovering her passion for biography, she published three mystery 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 relates the story of the Force, Pa., resident's life and conflict with the coal companies.

      In the last half of 1945, news of the war’s end and aftermath shared space with reports of a battle on the home front, led by a Photo_of_BH_at_hearing_purse_muff_HSP_JPEG.jpgwoman, Elizabeth O. Hayes, MD, doctor for a coal company that owned the town of Force, where sewage contaminated the drinking waters, and ambulances sank into muddy unpaved roads while corrupt managers, ensconced in Manhattan high-rises, refused to make improvements.

      When Hayes (right) resigned to protest intolerable living conditions, 350 miners followed her in strike, shaking the foundation of the town and attracting a national media storm. Press – including women reporters, temporarily assigned to national news desks in wartime – flocked to the small mining town to champion Dr. Hayes’ cause. Slim, 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 mostly happy ending.

      News outlets applauded her initiative. Woody Guthrie wrote a song about her. Soldiers followed her progress in the military newspaper Stars and Stripes, flooding her with fan mail. A Philadelphia newspaper recommended Dr. Betty’s prescription to others: “Rx: Get Good and Angry.” President Harry S. Truman referred her grievances to his justice department, which handed her a victory.

      A Mighty Force is the only book, popular or academic, written about Hayes. Fortunately, a fascinated press captured Hayes’s words and deeds in scores of news pieces. Author Marcia Biederman uses these pieces, written by major news outlets and tiny local papers, as well as interviews with descendants, letters written by Hayes’s opponents, union files, court records, an observer’s scrapbook, mining company data, and a journalist’s oral history to tell the story of Dr. Betty and her pursuit of public health for the first time.

      In addition to her presentation, Biederman will have copies of her book for sale at the luncheon.

Category: News