So, I'm not sure if this is a good or bad thing.
One of the reasons that I pursued COAL as a topic is a book called Trapped by Marc Aronson. I heard him speak at the NCTE conference, and I had already encountered his great book, Sugar Changed the World. He spoke for a few minutes about the book, and mentioned some of the things the trapped miners said and did. (I remember him talking about the one word that made the difference for the miners - the thing that saved all of their lives and kept them all from dying. "Democracy." They voted on everything.)
Of course, the funny part is this: the book is NOT about coal mining. The people who were trapped in the San Jose Mine in northern Chile were mining COPPER, not COAL.
Does this mean I need to change the topic? I don't think so. I think that the book and its ideas are still relevant, though perhaps less directly. I think that the concepts of mining that I can take from this book, as well as comparisons to other mining disasters, are useful. But it's funny, now, how this mistake in understanding (did he say that they were copper miners at the presentation? If he had, or if I heard and remembered it, I might have chosen some other topic.) helped me choose this topic. I hope that the decision turns out to be lucky.
I suppose we'll find out soon.