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Oral Histories: Appalachian Region, in the Berea Sound Archives

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Appalachian Region Oral History Collections Finding Aids

In These Mountains: Central Appalachian Folk Arts and Culture

The South Arts In These Mountains collection documents various aspects of folk arts and culture in the central Appalachian counties of Kentucky, Tennessee, and North Carolina through the use of audio / video recording and photography. Conducted during the period 2019-2021, the interviews document a wide range of artistic expression including pottery, puppetry, hip-hop and rap music, ukulele music, tattoo arts, food preservation, clogging, chair caning, quiltmaking, hair braiding, basketry, preaching, and land use. In addition to the work of individual artists, folk arts education programs are also documented.

Appalachian Historic Forest Conditions Oral History Project

This oral history collection consists of interviews with elder (over 65) Appalachians about their recollections of the forest in the mountains of Eastern Kentucky. While the interviews focus on their experience of the forests, their stories also intersect with other aspects of their experience and contributions such as music and art.

Appalachian Volunteers Oral History Collection, 1982

Audio recorded interviews with former Appalachian Volunteer workers who were assigned to West Virginia between 1964 and 1967, and then settled in the area after their service ended.

Appalachian Volunteers Oral History Collection (Jo Zingg / Jeanette Knowles)

The project was initiated by Jo Crockett Zingg with the purpose of documenting key figures in the Appalachian Volunteers organization who had not been interviewed as part of previous oral history efforts. Zingg recorded eleven of the interviews over an approximate two year period, 2008 - 2010. Former AV worker Jeanette Knowles continued the project after Jo Zingg's death in 2012. Additional interviews were recorded at various times by historian Tom Kiffmeyer, Women's History scholar Jesse Wilkerson, and Berea College Archivist Harry Rice.

Council of the Southern Mountains Oral History Collection

Audio recorded interviews with transcripts relating to the social reform efforts of the Council of the Southern Mountains (CSM) during the period 1970-1989. Interviewees include the former CSM executive director, other staff, board members, and elected officers.

Disputanta Oral History Collection, 1978-1979    

Audio recorded interviews that document the history of the Disputanta community in northern Rockcastle County, Kentucky.

John Lair - Renfro Valley Barn Dance Oral History Collection

Thirty audio recorded interviews with performers and others who were associated with the Renfro Valley Barn Dance and other radio programs produced by John Lair, first in Cincinnati, Ohio and later in Renfro Valley, Kentucky, 1937 through much of the 1950s. Most of the interviews were conducted during the period 1994-1999, by Hutchins Library Sound Archivist, Harry Rice. Additional interviews in the collection were conducted at various earlier times by Loyal Jones, Wayne Daniels, and Reuben Powell.

Kentucky Foothills Square Dance Oral History Collection

These are interviews recorded by dance scholar Susan Spalding as part of her study of the history of square dancing in Berea and surrounding counties. Also included are selected audio and video excerpts of local dance groups and callers. The dancing in question is the type done in a big circle that divides into smaller “squares” of two couples. The time period covered is from the beginning of the twentieth century through about 1970. 

Planting by the Signs in Kentucky Oral History Collection, 2018-2019

This collection consists of seventeen audio recorded interviews that document the practice of scheduling planting, cultivating, and harvesting crops based on moon phases and astrological signs. Interviewees were active gardeners residing in Barren, Clark, Franklin, Gallatin, Harlan, Lee, Letcher, Lincoln, Madison, and Rockcastle counties.

The interviews were recorded by Dr. Sarah Hall, of Berea College's Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Meg Wilson was a collaborator and photographer for the project.

Preserving Appalachian Voices in the Michael and Carrie Nobel Kline Collection

A diverse selection of more than 750 oral history interviews, personal reminiscences, historical presentations, music performances, and radio programs recorded between 1994 and 2006 in an area that stretches from Parkersburg, West Virginia to the coal region of Northeastern Pennsylvania.  These recordings document regional history and personal life experiences in neighborhoods, religious congregations, businesses, factories, mines, farms, ethnic social clubs, singing societies, and music ensembles. 

Voices From the Sixties Oral History Collection