Father Everett Francis Briggs (Jan. 27, 1908 - Dec. 20, 2006) was a Catholic priest and miners' activist.
Born in Fitchburg, Massachusetts, Briggs attended St. Patrick's School in Fitchburg and the Maryknoll Seminary. He graduated from Holy Cross College in Worcester, Massachusetts, and the Maryknoll Major Seminary in Maryknoll, N.Y.
In 1933 he was ordained to the priesthood and assigned to Otsu, in Japan, as a missionary. In 1941, during World War II, he was arrested as a spy and he protested by going on a hunger strike. He spent about a year in an internement camp in Japan.
In 1943, after his repatriation when American and Japanese nationals were exchanged, he taught Japanese then he spent six years assigned to the camps where United Stated interned its Japanese citizens.
In 1956, few days before Christmas, he arrived in Monongah, West Virginia, where he began to be interested in the history of the Monongah Mining Disaster of December 6, 1907. In the accident, described as "the worst mining disaster in American History", at least 360 miners died; the vast majority of them were Italian Americans. As soon as he discovered there was no memorial of the calamity his main mission in life became to assure that the forgotten victims of the tragedy were recognized.
He wrote an article on Science in which he stated that, after his studies, the victims of Monongah Mining Disaster were much more than 361 and the number would have been upwarded of 500 . In 1957 Briggs engaged himself in organizing the 50-year anniversary of the explosion.
In 1961 he founded Saint Barbara's Memorial Nursing Home (Saint Barbara is the patron saint of miners) in Monongah, as a mining memorial to recognize the Monongah coal miners and all miners who died in mining disasters.
He was the head of a Committee that recently erected a statue At the Heroine of Monongah as a tribute to the widows of the 1907 mining accident and to coal miners’ widows everywhere.The statue is made of Carrara marble and is located near the Town Hall in Monongah.
On May 31, 2004 the President of the Italian Republic, Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, recognized his work and conferred the honour of "Cavaliere dell'Ordine della Stella della Solidarietà Italiana" (Knight of the Order of the Star of Italian Solidarity) upon him.
In 2006, when Joe Manchin III, a delegation of Italian dignitaries and some of the miners' distant relatives from Italy visited Monongah in remembrance of 1907 accident, he said: I am not Italian and I dedicated almost my entire life to the Italian miners.
Everett Francis Briggs died in Santa Barbara's Memorial Nursing Home, in Monongah and lies in St. Bernard’s Cemetery, Fitchburg.