Articles,  Editor's Statement

Editor’s Column

By Gene Hyde

This article appeared in the Volume 1, Issue 1 Spring/Summer 2019 issue of the Appalachian Curator. Click here to view a PDF of the full issue.

In 1966, West Virginia University librarian Robert F. Munn noted that a researcher wanting to write about Appalachia would discover  “distressingly little in the way of useful primary and secondary material” about the region. [1] Munn’s observations were later echoed by Appalachian scholars Cratis Williams and Ronald Eller.  Lack of archival resources was a problem, and scholars were concerned.

Over the decades since Munn identified this problem, archivists and librarians throughout Appalachia have worked to identify, collect, arrange, describe, and make available primary resources about the region. Researchers have dug into these collections, producing a significant body of Appalachian scholarship in the process.

In my work as an Appalachian archivist, I’ve met many other archivists who are working to document Appalachia. Archives are scattered throughout these mountains, located in large universities, smaller colleges, public libraries, museums, local history and genealogy societies, church historical agencies, and other places.  As archivists working in the region, we share common goals, struggle with similar challenges, and often work independently — and sometimes collaboratively – to gather the documents, photographs, oral histories, and other materials that tell Appalachia’s rich and diverse history.

Which brings us to the inaugural issue of the Appalachian Curator, a new newsletter published by the newly formed Special Collections Committee at ASA. Our intended audience is both the Appalachian archival community and the larger Appalachian Studies community. Our goal is to use the Appalachian Curator as a forum to share new resources, highlight repositories and individual collections, explore a bit of Appalachian archival history, examine the role of bibliography in Appalachian Studies, discuss and explore digitization and digital collections, promote and highlight upcoming exhibits and displays, and generally share information about what we have in our collections and what we do as Appalachian archivists.

This inaugural issue includes sections that will be regular features in the Appalachian Curator:

Call for articles, new acquisitions, exhibits and events

While this issue was largely written by the Appalachian Curator editorial staff, we are actively seeking articles by other archivists, librarians, and Appalachian researchers. We are looking for stories and articles about anything related to Appalachian archives – things you want to share with the Appalachian Studies community.  Possible story ideas include:

  • community archiving projects
  • digitization projects
  • histories and profiles of archival repositories
  • profiles of archivists and donors
  • descriptions of collections
  • articles on the craft and practice of archival work
  • lists of new acquisitions
  • upcoming workshops or training opportunities
  • upcoming or current exhibits and events
  • news about grants or collaborations
  • or anything else related to Appalachian archives

Have an idea? Please contact the editors – Gene Hyde or Liz Skene  Our next issue will be published in September, with a copy deadline of August 1.

We want this to be your newsletter, and hope that you will consider contributing to it. We look forward to hearing from you!


[1] Munn, Robert F. “Research Materials on the Appalachian Region.” Mountain Life & Work 42, no. 2 (Summer 1966), 13.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *