Oral History of Southern Appalachia

Author: French, Laurence Armand
This oral history complements earlier works conducted during the Great Depression through the Federal Writers’ Project (FWP). The work covers not only covers the depression-era but also sentiments on World War II and the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s and is unique in its in that the oral histories portray a long-isolated region of the South – Appalachia and its unique racial subcultures, Cherokee Indians, Mountain Whites and Local Blacks.


“Dr. French’s groundbreaking research conducted over the past thirty years on Cherokee culture, particularly the Qualla Cherokee and their black and white neighbors in Southern Appalachia, uniquely positions him to undertake the present study. . . .The elimination of cross-cultural biases, misinterpretations, and interracial barriers between interviewers and the [interviewees] ensured that authentic, meaningful, and unencumbered narratives were recorded.” – Dr. John A. Humphrey, Professor, Department of Criminal Justice, Saint Anselm College

“French’s research provides the reader with a history of the pitfalls in objectivity efforts of oral history research and an excellent oral history of the diverse cultures of the Appalachian region.” – Dr. S.N. Wailes, Professor of Criminal Justice and Sociology, Jackson State University

“ [Interviewees] relate what it was like to live through four seasons without electricity, indoor plumbing, adequate home construction materials, or transportation. Readers will gain access to each group’s unique colloquialisms, developmental tasks, values, spirituality, prejudices, social roles, crafts and skills, struggles and achievements, and feelings and attitudes toward other racial groups. In sum, this manuscript archives a unique bit of Americana.” – Dr. Robert B. Williams, Professor of Psychology, Atlantic Baptist University

Table of Contents

Foreword by John A. Humphrey
1 2007 retrospective analysis of the 1976/77 oral history project
2 An Introduction to Southern Appalachia
3 Cherokees
4 Mountain Whites
5 Local Blacks