Interview with Mary Burnham, March 19, 1973


Harmon, Lester and Burnham, Mary, “Interview with Mary Burnham, March 19, 1973,” Appalachian State University Libraries Digital Collections, accessed January 27, 2022,

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Interview with Mary Burnham, March 19, 1973


Mary Burnham was born in Avery County where she grew up and attended Mission School for her first nine years of education. She then went to boarding school called Hannamore Academy in Ragerstown, Maryland. Ms. Bornham continued her education at Hood College in Fredrick, Maryland and Drexel Institute of Technology in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She then worked at Swarthmore College for four years as a librarian. She also went to UNC for graduate study in ancient and Medieval history. Ms. Burnham worked as a librarian in the department of zoology at Cornell University and at Shaddock Hospital in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts where she met her husband and eventually after retirement made her way back to the Valle Crucis area.

Ms. Burnham explains the history of the Mission School she attended. Ms. Burnham goes into detail about the Valle Crucis community including its history, major events, and the current differences compared to her childhood. Her memories of the area also include politics, specifically elections and the typical transportation of the area. Ms. Burnham then speaks of the traditions and customs of the area such as quilting and weaving. Other traditions she talks about include picking herbs, folktales, and group activities she experienced as a child. Ms. Burnham recollects the Great Depression and its effects on the neighborhood including the public schools and churches.


Avery County (N.C.)--Social life and customs--20th century
Watauga County (N.C.)--Social life and customs--20th century
Depression--1929--North Carolina--Avery County
Valle Crucis (N.C.)--History--20th century


Harmon, Lester
Burnham, Mary




Copyright for the interviews on the Appalachian State University Oral History Collection site is held by Appalachian State University. The interviews are available for free personal, non-commercial, and educational use, provided that proper citation is used (e.g. Appalachian State Collection 111. Appalachian Oral History Project Records, 1965-1989, W.L. Eury Appalachian Collection, Special Collections, Appalachian State University, Boone, NC). Any commercial use of the materials, without the written permission of the Appalachian State University, is strictly prohibited.


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Valle Crucis, NC

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