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Here's a link from the Nova Scotia Archives about the mining disaster:
Springhill Mining Disaster
This is perhaps the most famous of all the Springhill disaster songs, not least because of Peggy Seeger’s and Ewan MacColl’s high profiles in the folk music world. Having received international news coverage, Seeger learned of the disaster while living in France. She did not record it right away, unlike most of the other Springhill songs, but instead performed it with Ewan MacColl (who helped write some of the verses) while in tour in Canada in 1959 and apparently performed it on a Halifax television show. Rosenberg points out that whereas other Springhill songs reached a more limited regional and working-class audience, this one reached the young, middle-class audience drawn to music of the folk revival.
In 1960, it was published in Sing Out!, a major American folk revival magazine and that year Seeger and MacColl premiered the song in America at the Newport Folk Festival. It was subsequently recorded, from the 1960s right up to the present, by a significant number of Canadian, American, and British folk artists, explaining why this song has become so well known. http://disastersongs.ca/the-ballad-of-springhill/