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"This morning I wrote a letter to Stefania. I described my wedding to her and told her the truth about married life, that married life is nothing like I had dreamed. Then I ripped up the letter and burned it in the stove."
Anetka Kaminska[2]

A Coal Miner's Bride: The Diary of Anetka Kaminska is a fictional diary written by Susan Campbell Bartoletti. It is the eighteenth book in Scholastic's Dear America series. It was published in July 2000 and was followed by Mary Pope Osborne's My Secret War in September.

Anetka Kaminska leaves her home in Poland to marry a coal miner in Lattimer, Pennsylvania.


"For Elaine, who has hart ducha"

Book description[]

"Sadowka, Poland
Midnight, after the Rooster's Crow

The words in Tata's letter grip my stomach like a fist. Tata isn't coming home. He wants us to come to America! Tata told me about a coal miner named Mr. Stanley Gawrych who wants a young bride from the old country. So Tata told this Mr. Gawrych that I am young and fit for marriage. I have had good family training and know all I need to take care of a house and a husband. So now Mr. Gawrych has agreed to marry me. Tata promises that we will make a good match. In return, Mr. Gawrych has paid for our passage to America.
"Oh, Babcia," I cried. "How could Tata have done such a terrible thing? I don't want to be a coal miner's bride... I don't want to go to America... to marry a man I do not love.


In 1896, Anetka Kaminska lives Sadowka, Poland, which is occupied by the Czar's army, with her grandmother and younger brother Jozef. She meets a soldier named Leon Nasevich, whose bold personality initially causes her to dislike him. Her father, a coal miner in America, later writes home to inform them that he has arranged Anetka's marriage. She has no wish to marry someone she does not love. A sergeant learns that Anetka is teaching the village children Polish, which is outlawed. Leon saves her, though they now have to flee immediately.

After a sad goodbye to her grandmother, Anetka, Josef, and Leon take a several days journey to a ship which will take them to America. On board, she befriends Jerzy and Lidia Lewandowski, whom are also travelling to Lattimer, Pennsylvania. During a dance on the ship, Leon kisses Anetka despite her impending marriage. She and Jozef are separated from Leon upon arriving in America. They reunite with their father in Lattimer, where Anetka meets her future husband Stanley Gawrych, a widower with three daughters. A few days before the wedding, Anetka discovers Leon was only detained and has now settled in Lattimer.

In late July, Anetka and Stanley are married. Leon causes a stir by kissing Anetka's hand after dancing with her. Over the next few months, she is busy taking care of the household duties and Stanley's daughters, Violet, Rose, and Lily. The younger two take to her quickly, but Violet is very obstinate. On top of that, Anetka wishes to grow closer to Stanley, who is cold and often gruff with her. He eventually changes after learning he has called Anetka's by his first wife's name while intoxicated. However, he dies only a few days later in a mining accident.

A widow with three children, Anetka takes in boarders to pay off Stanley's debts. Not long after, she finds a badly injured Leon, whom she nurses back to health. He then starts to board there as well. Leon, now a worker for the United Mine Workers, increasingly advocates for the miners to go on strike. Anetka, who has grown even closer to Leon, is worried though she takes side. In September 1897, Leon and the other miners go on a strike which turns deadly. An injured Leon returns home two days later and tells Anetka that he loves her.


Historical Note[]


Main article: List of A Coal Miner's Bride characters
  • Anetka Kaminska, a thirteen-year-old girl living in Poland. Her father arranges her for her to marry a coal miner in exchange for her and her brother's passage to America.
  • Leon Nasevich is a soldier in the Czar's army. He enjoys teasing Anetka, who he accompanies to America. There he becomes an advocate for the coal miner's union.


Main article: Susan Campbell Bartoletti

Susan Campbell Bartoletti is an award-winning author and former teacher. She authored her first book in 1992 and became a full-time writer in 1997. A Coal Miner's Bride is her first book for Dear America. She also wrote Down the Rabbit Hole for Dear America and The Journal of Finn Reardon for My Name Is America. For A Coal Miner's Bride, Bartoletti researched the Lattimer massacre, Polish culture, and spoke to Polish immigrants about their experiences. She also used the women in her life as inspiration for Anetka's character and qualities.


  • NCSS/CBC Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People (2001)[3]


"I'm deeply grateful to the following people for their expertise: Chester Kulesa, curator, Anthracite Heritage Museum; Helen Dende, Elaine Slivinski Lisandrelli, Barbara Jablonski, Stella Ziec Kaminski, Diane Kaminski, and Rosetta Kwolek Cancelleri for their knowledge of Poland and its culture; Rick Myers, for his knowledge of bees; Bambi Lobdell, for her knowledge of the Roman Catholic church and its traditions; Tracy Mack, for believing in Anetka; my writers' group; and my family, who eat take-out when I'm on deadline. Additional resources include oral histories and transcripts located at the Bureau of Archives and History at the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, and at Eckley Miners' Village, Weatherly, Pennsylvania; contemporary newspapers, magazines, and local history resources located at the Hazelton Public Library, Hazelton, Pennsylvania, and at the Scranton Public Library, Scranton, Pennsylvania; Tina at Majestic Mountain Sage at, and Belinda at"


  • The portrait on the cover is a detail from the 1909 photograph Peasant girls by Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky. The background is a photograph produced by the Paul Thomas Studio in Shamokin, Pennsylvania.[4][5]


See also[]

Dear America

A Journey to the New World | The Winter of Red Snow | When Will This Cruel War Be Over? | A Picture of Freedom
Across the Wide and Lonesome Prairie | So Far from Home | I Thought My Soul Would Rise and Fly
West to a Land of Plenty | Dreams in the Golden Country | Standing in the Light | Voyage on the Great Titanic
A Line in the Sand | My Heart Is on the Ground | The Great Railroad Race | The Girl Who Chased Away Sorrow
A Light in the Storm | Color Me Dark | A Coal Miner's Bride | My Secret War | One Eye Laughing, the Other Weeping
Valley of the Moon | Seeds of Hope | Early Sunday Morning | My Face to the Wind | Christmas After All
A Time for Courage | Where Have All the Flowers Gone? | Mirror, Mirror on the Wall | Survival in the Storm
When Christmas Comes Again | Land of the Buffalo Bones | Love Thy Neighbor | All the Stars in the Sky
Look to the Hills | I Walk in Dread | Hear My Sorrow


The Fences Between Us | Like the Willow Tree | Cannons at Dawn | With the Might of Angels | Behind the Masks
Down the Rabbit Hole | A City Tossed and Broken

External links[]