Press Preview for National Archives’ Power & Light Exhibit March 11
Media Alert · Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Washington, DC


WHAT: A special press-only preview of the National Archives Power & Light: Russell Lee's Coal Survey exhibit before it opens to the public. Accredited members of the media should RSVP to

The exhibit features more than 200 images taken by renowned documentary photographer Russell Lee for a nationwide survey of coal mining communities. The survey was part of an agreement negotiated by the Department of the Interior and the United Mine Workers of America that ended the 1946 coal strike. Because the mines were under government control at the time, Lee had unprecedented access to coal towns and camps. Lee traveled to 13 states to document the housing, medical, and community facilities of the miners. Lee’s wife Jean helped him record the detailed captions presented without edits in the exhibit. The survey, illustrated by Lee’s photographs, resulted in improvements to housing and medical facilities. 

Power & Light serves as an example of how records can impact the lives of Americans,” said Archivist of the United States Dr. Colleen Shogan. “These valuable photographs held by the National Archives helped change the narrative around the coal strikes at the time. Today, they provide us a glimpse into the rich history of coal communities across the country.”

WHO: Dr. Colleen Shogan, Archivist of the United States
Rodney Slater, Chair and President of the National Archives Foundation Board of Directors
Alice Kamps, Exhibit Curator

WHEN: Monday, March 11, 2024
Doors open at 5 p.m., Media pre-set by 5:20 p.m.
Remarks at 5:30 p.m.

Media are invited to stay for the opening reception that follows the press preview at 6:15 p.m.

WHERE: Lawrence F. O’Brien Gallery, National Archives Building, Washington, DC

Please use the Special Events entrance on Constitution Avenue at 7th Street, NW.

Power & Light curator Alice Kamps will lead a tour of the exhibit in the Lawrence F. O’Brien Gallery following the remarks program. 

Power & Light: Russell Lee's Coal Survey is free and open to the public at the Lawrence F. O’Brien Gallery of the National Archives Building in Washington, DC, March 16, 2024, through July 6, 2025. See the press release and online press kit for more information on the exhibit. 

The survey's digitized images can be found in the National Archives’ online Catalog, and photographs from the exhibit are on Flickr. Follow the conversation online using the hashtag #ArchivesPowerAndLight. View the 90-second introductory video on the National Archives YouTube channel. 

The National Archives Building is located near the National Mall on Constitution Ave. at 9th Street, NW, in Washington, DC. The exhibit galleries are open from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily, except Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Power & Light: Russell Lee’s Coal Survey is made possible in part by the National Archives Foundation through the generous support of The Mars Family & Mars, Incorporated and Anonymous.


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For media inquiries, please contact: National Archives Public and Media Communications at (202) 357-5300 or via email at

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This page was last reviewed on March 5, 2024.
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