Appalachian Oral History Project Interviews, 1965-1989

In 1973, representatives from Appalachian State University (ASU) began the process of collecting interviews from Watauga, Avery, Ashe, and Caldwell county citizens to learn about their respective lives and gather stories. From the outset of the project, the interviewers knew that they were reaching out to the “last generation of Appalachian residents to reach maturity before the advent of radio, the last generation to maintain an oral tradition.” The goal was to create a wealth of data for historians, folklorists, musicians, sociologists, and anthropologists interested in the Appalachian Region. The project was known as the “Appalachian Oral History Project” (AOHP), and developed in a consortium with Alice Lloyd College and Lees Junior College (now Hazard County Community College) both in Kentucky, Emory and Henry College in Virginia, and ASU. Predominately funded through the National Endowment for the Humanities, the four schools by 1977 had amassed approximately 3,000 interviews. Each institution had its own director and staff. Most of the interviewers were students. Outgrowths of the project included the Mountain Memories newsletter that shared the stories collected, an advisory council, a Union Catalog, photographs collected, transcripts on microfilm, and the book Our Appalachia. Out of the 3,000 interviews between the three schools, only 663 transcripts were selected to be microfilmed. In 1978, two reels of microfilm were made available with 96 transcripts contributed by ASU. An annotated index referred to as The Appalachian Oral History Project Union Catalog was created to accompany the microfilm. The catalog is broken down into five sections starting with a subject topic index such as Civilian Conservation Corps, Coal Camps, Churches, etc. The next four sections introduced the interviewees by respective school. There was an attempt to include basic biographic information such as date of birth, location, interviewer name, length of interview, and subjects discussed. However, this information was not always consistent per school. This online project features clips from the interviews, complete transcripts, and photographs. The quality and consistency of the interviews vary due to the fact that they were done largely by students. Most of the photos are missing dates and identifying information.