New Aqusitions

What’s new in Appalachian Special Collections?

This article appeared in the Volume 1, Issue 2 Fall 2019 issue of the Appalachian Curator. Click here to view a PDF of the full issue.

New collections in regional repositories:

Appalachian State University

Berea College

East Tennessee State University 

University of Kentucky

University of North Carolina Asheville 

Virginia Tech

Warren Wilson College

West Virginia University


W. L. Eury Collection, Appalachian State University

Paul Ashley Records:  A major recent acquisition was the record collection of Paul Ashley of Creston, North Carolina. Ashley was an audiophile who collected all styles and genres of music, but had a particular affinity for Gospel music. At over 22,000 records, this collection contains a wealth of recordings by regional black and white Gospel, Bluegrass, Old-Time, Blues, and Country artists.  

Recently processed…

Frances Fernald Scrapbook:  This scrapbook showcases the Country music fandom of Frances Fernald. As a young teenager in New Hampshire during the 1930s, Fernald was an avid listener to Country music programs broadcast by New England Radio stations. Her collection includes signed photographs, correspondence, set lists, and lyrics from Appalachian artists who performed in the northeast during that era, including Bradley Kincaid and Lulu Belle and Scotty Wiseman. The collection also provides a window into the “hillbilly” and “cowboy” music craze, with photographs and ephemera from New England bands who adopted the mountaineer image and played music inspired by the Appalachian South and American West. 

James Marion Riddle and Dewey Hobart Riddle Papers:  The Riddle family of Unicoi County, Tennessee, were timbermen, farmers, and railroaders in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. These papers focus on James Marion Riddle (1852-1930) and his son, Dewey Hobart Riddle (1898-1975). James Marion Riddle operated sawmills and owned timber acreages throughout Unicoi County and the surrounding area. Dewey Hobart Riddle initially joined the family timber business as a teenager but later took a variety of jobs, including working as carman on the Clinchfield Railroad and selling patent medicines. The collection contains account books and receipts detailing an east Tennessee family engaged in a wide range of vocations.


Berea College

WHAS Radio Historical Collection: The recordings document a wide range of state, national, and world issues and events. For instance eight Kentucky governors can be heard navigating the rough-and-tumble of Kentucky election campaigns. There are also World War II news updates, and presidential visits to the state. Entertainment programs include the Kentucky-based Renfro Valley Barn Dance, Louisville Symphony performances, African American jug band music, musical variety shows, soap operas, and sporting events, particularly the Kentucky Derby.  The 1500 lacquer coated glass and aluminum based discs containing the programs were created by Louisville, Kentucky based WHAS. They have been digitized with support of an anonymous donor and can be heard through links in the Collection finding aid.

Berea also received a Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) Recordings-at-Risk grant to digitize 785 analog audio recordings from Berea’s Michael and Carrie Kline Collection. The recordings are distinctive because of their multiple first person accounts of memories, stories, and beliefs for each of four communities in West Virginia and Pennsylvania.  The recordings resulted from folklife and oral history documentation projects conducted between 1994 and 2006. Comparable collections for these communities have been found nowhere else. In addition to digitization, the project will provide cloud based preservation and online public access.


Archives of Appalachia, East Tennessee State University

Erwin Citizens Awareness Network (ECAN) Records, 1957-2015:  AppMs 870. Public information on Nuclear Fuel Services, Inc. and the Swedish waste processor Studsvik, Inc. gathered by Erwin Citizens Awareness Network (ECAN) as part of the group’s watchdog activities. While the primary focus of the documents is the uranium downblending facility in Erwin, Tennessee, the collection also includes materials on similar facilities elsewhere. 

ET & WNC Transportation Company Minute Book 1, 1942-195:. Added to the ET&WNC Transportation Company Records, 1868-1970, AppMs 91.

Federation of Communities in Service (FOCIS) Records: (accrual), 1944-2017, AppMs 526. Minutes, publications, photographs and grant paperwork related to the organization, including material related to its dissolution in 2017. Margaret Gregg (see below) was an early contributor to the organization. The accrual is unprocessed but open to researchers with advance notice. 

Johnson City Rephotography Project: 2016, AppMs 873. Black and white photographic prints made by ETSU visiting professor Joshua Greer’s advanced photography class. Students selected early 20th century negatives by Johnson City, Tennessee photographer Burr Harrison and restaged the photographs at the original location.

Margaret Gregg Papers (accrual), 1934-1988:  AppMs 749. Six silkscreened posters by the Abingdon, Virginia artist and activist. 

Marat Moore Papers (accrual), 1980-1994:  AppMs 316. Audiocassette recordings of some of Moore’s interviews with women coal miners. Advance notice required for access.


University of Kentucky

The University of Kentucky Libraries Special Collections Research Center has acquired the records of the AMD&ART Park in Vintondale, Pennsylvania. The records include project files, photographs and slides, video, and publications relating to the public park and Acid Mine Drainage Treatment system, which was a collaboration between scientists, artists, historians, and landscape architects.


University of North Carolina Asheville 

Little Switzerland Resort Papers: Records, correspondence, photographs, blueprints, legal documents, and other materials related to the development and management of the Little Switzerland Resort  in Western North Carolina. Awaiting processing.

State of Black Asheville Collection:  Documents, student papers, class materials, demographic and economic data, and other materials documenting the economic, social, political, and cultural lives of the black population in Asheville. The materials came from a series of classes and community activities by now-retired UNC Asheville Sociology Professor Dwight Mullen. A finding aid will be available in early October.


Virginia Tech

Julia Thomas Conway and Mary Black Thomas Luster Correspondence, 1895 – 1898:  Ms2019-019, 0.2 cu. ft. 1 box.  Julia Ellen Thomas was born in 1848 in Blacksburg, VA, the daughter of Colonel William Thomas and the fifth of five children. Julia and William Buchanan Conway were married in 1870 and settled for a time in Blacksburg where William became a surgeon for the Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College (now Virginia Tech). Mary Black Thomas Luster was born on August 22, 1834 in Blacksburg, VA, the daughter of Colonel William Thomas and the third of five children. Mary married Archiles W. Luster, who was a farmer in Blacksburg, VA. The collection consists of letters written to Conway by her sisters, Mary Black Thomas Luster and Ann Elizabeth Thomas (1830-1903) from March 29, 1895 to December 27, 1898. Most of the letters are undated, but are assumed to be written around the time of the dated letters. Topics in the letters include family matters, particularly relating to her daughter, Daisy Conway who seemed to have lived with Julia’s sister Mary.

Herschel A. Elarth-Charles S. Worley, Jr. Architectural Firm Drawings, 1955-1961: undated, Ms2019-036, 1.0 cu. ft. 2 folders. The collection  contains architectural drawings from five projects designed by the partners between 1955 and 1961 (plus one undated alteration). These include three private residences in Blacksburg, Virginia, and two businesses in Christiansburg, Virginia.

Hard Times Blues Collection, 1966, 2001, 2003, 2019:  Ms2019-038, 0.2 cu. ft. 1 box.  The Hard Times Blues Collection contains materials about the play Hard Times Blues by Lucy Sweeney and its production by the Dumas Theatre Troupe in 2003. Items include background research, correspondence, and a 2019 revised copy of the play as well as programs, flyers, photographs, and a newspaper article about the 2003 production. The play is about Blacksburg local and Virginia Tech employee Floyd “Hardtimes” Meade (1882-1941), who was influential as a mascot performer and turkey trainer for football games. His turkeys served as an early predecessor to the HokieBird mascot representing Virginia Tech today.
Update to:  Fries Textile Plant Records, 1900-1988: Ms1989-039,  80 boxes, 150 cu. ft – Processing of the Fries Textile Plant Records (including including correspondence, ledgers, production records, employee records, and other items documenting the history of the town and plant) is complete and the finding aid is available on Virginia Heritage. An additional accession of approximately 180 blueprints and 15 slide decks was obtained in July 2019, and processing of these materials is almost complete. The NHPRC grant-funded processing project is due to end October 31st, by which time a small selection of digitized cornerstone documents will have been made available in an online exhibit.  (Note : a listing for the Fries collection appeared in Vol. 1, No. 1 of the Appalachian Curator.)


Warren Wilson College  

Appalachian Schools:  Materials acquired from historic schools, including Asheville Normal and Teachers College, Dorland-Bell School, Mossop School, and Asheville Farm School, all founded and sustained by the Presbyterian USA Board of Home Missions. The collections contain records, publications, and photographs.

Mountain Music Archive: This collection includes audio recordings from live performances of regional old-time music at the Asheville Junction music hall, the Sage Cafe at Warren Wilson College (2001-04), and a series of NEA-funded concerts at WWC (1976-82), as well as donations of recordings made by other traditional music enthusiasts. The recordings also capture gospel, ballad and shape-note singing, as well as interviews with musicians.


West Virginia University

Isabel L. Jones, World War II Code Girl, Oral History:  A&M.4433  Sound recording of oral history interview conducted by historian and WVU professor emeritus Barbara Howe with Isabel L. Jones. Jones was a code breaker, or “code girl”, who worked on deciphering German and Japanese codes for the United States of America (USA) during World War II (ca. 1942-1945). The work performed by the code girls is documented in the book “Code Girls: The Untold Story of the American Women Code Breakers of World War II” by Liza Mundy. In addition to the sound recording, there is also a seven page document providing background information on people and places mentioned in the interview, a photograph of Jones, a note by Liz Mundy, and four other documents.

William Allen Crow of Charles Town, Two Letters and Receipt Regarding Purchase of Slaves:   A&M.4437  Two letters and a receipt regarding the purchase of slaves by William Allen Crow, resident of Charles Town, Jefferson County, (West) Virginia. Each of the items was written to Crow by a different correspondent.

The first letter was written 8 March 1836 by Robert Gallaher regarding a slave auction in Richmond, Virginia. When they had previously met in Charles Town, Crow had requested that Gallaher provide him information regarding the sale of slaves. A partial transcription of the letter follows “They was a sale today of nine which I thought brot very good prices. The first man that was set up was a ruff carpendter (29 years old) which brot 1,500. The second was a young fellow about the size of your Lewis which brot 1,015… They set up a girl 8 or 10 years old but not at all likely, brot 375… A little boy 4 or 5 brot 290, also a girl twelve years old brot 490.”

The second letter is from John Boyer, the county jailor in Martinsburg, (West) Virginia, on 1 June 1836: “There has been this day committed to the jail of this place a negro woman named Julia, the property of Mr. Abraham Vanmeter of this county. He says she has shown a disposition to run away and has become quite unmanageable. He will sell her to any person who will give him the best price… She is a very valuable woman. She is about 30 years of age… and is a stout and healthy-looking woman.”

The final document is a bill of sale dated 12 December 1839 from Adam Link, selling “a negro man Solomon about twenty two years old” to Crow for $612.50.

Crow was born circa 1794 and died in 1870. He married Mary McCartney in 1817. According to available genealogical information, the couple had two daughters who survived to adulthood and are not known to have had any grandchildren. Both Crow and his daughters resided in Charles Town the duration of their lives.

John Brown’s Fort, Harpers Ferry, Stereocard Photograph:  A&M.4393  A stereocard of John Brown’s fort at Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. This photograph would have been taken prior to 1891, when the fort was sold, dismantled, and transported cross-country for display at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. The fort was eventually returned to West Virginia, first to the grounds of Storer College of Harpers Ferry and then closer to its original location under the auspices of the National Park Service

West Virginia Streetcar Photograph Collection:   A&M.4450  Photographs of trolleys and streetcars in West Virginia, including ones located in Wheeling, Charleston, Parkersburg, Bluefield, and Princeton. 76 items from 1920 – 1960.

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