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John Henry: The Steel Drivin’ Man

The Legacy of John Henry


John Henry is the story of man’s triumph over machine and the nobility of the human spirit. At least three essential themes within the legend – the value of work, the significance of race, and the social cost of technological innovation – may each be considered the definitive element of the story, and each may be interpreted differently. Most people can relate to at least one of these story elements and find their own connection with the legendary hero.

The material for this exhibit was drawn from a Humanities Council traveling exhibit, John Henry: The Steel Drivin’ Man. The original traveling exhibit is on permanent loan to the Frank and Jane Gabor West Virginia Folklife Center at Fairmont State University.

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