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Mountain People: Life and Culture in Appalachia

For most people, Appalachia conjures up images of majestic mountains, old-time music, and a simpler way of life. Since its recognition as a distinctive region in the late 19th century, Appalachia has been a source of enduring myths and distortions regarding the isolation, temperament, and behavior of its inhabitants. Early 20th-century writers focused on sensationalistic aspects of the region’s culture, such as moonshining and clan feuding, and often portrayed the region’s inhabitants as uneducated and prone to impulsive acts of violence.

Interweaving social, political, environmental, economic, and popular history, this new Archives Unbound collection chronicles three and a half centuries of the Appalachian past. Along the way, it explores Appalachia’s contradictory images that have shaped perceptions of the region as both the essence of America and a place apart.

This collection begins its story in the colonial era and describes the bloody warfare as migrants from Europe and their American-born offspring fought and eventually displaced Appalachia’s Native American inhabitants. It depicts the evolution of a backwoods farm-and-forest society, its divided and unhappy fate during the Civil War, and the emergence of a new industrial order as railroads, towns, and mining industries penetrated deeper and deeper into the mountains.

Throughout the collection, a wide range of Appalachian voices enlivens the analysis and reminds us of the importance of storytelling in the ways the people of Appalachia define themselves and their region.

This new Archives Unbound consists of the diaries, journals, and narratives of explorers, emigrants, military men, Native Americans, and travelers. In addition, there are accounts of the development of farming and mining communities, family histories, and folklore. These accounts provide a view of the region, which spans three and a half centuries and provides information on the social, political, economic, scientific, religious and agricultural characteristics of the region.

Publisher’s Note: This collection comprises in its entirety, the primary source media microfilm collection entitled First Three Centuries of Appalachian Travel. In addition, a small very number of selected titles were included from the microfilm collections entitled Travels in the Old South I, II, & III: 1607-1860; Travels in the New South I & II, 1865-1950; and, Kentucky Culture: A Basic Library of Kentuckiana.


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June 26, 2014


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