Welcome to the Appalachian Oral History Collection at Lees College Campus.
The Appalachian Oral History Project began in 1970 as a cooperative effort between Alice Lloyd College and Lees Junior College (now the Lees College Campus of Hazard Community and Technical College) in Eastern Kentucky. It expanded to a consortium of four schools in three states adding Emory & Henry College and Appalachian State University.
The project began as a research program to collect tape recorded interviews of the history and folklore of the Central Appalachian region. Over time, the project evolved into an educational program involving students who would conduct the interviews. The project was kept alive for many years but eventually new recordings stopped being generated. The current goal of the project is preservation and access. The roughly 1300 tape collection is currently in the process of being digitized. We have partnered with the Kentucky Oral History Commission’s Pass the Word program (http://passtheword.ky.gov/) and created this site to help increase access and awareness of our collection. For more information please see the contact info at the bottom of this page.
What is in the Collection
Residents of the Appalachian region recall their childhoods in the early twentieth century, before the prevalence of railroads and the coal industry. Farming was the main way of life, and people relied on gardens and hunting for much of their food. Narrators discuss canning and food preservation, making molasses, killing hogs, making soap and clothes, quilting, gathering ginseng and other herbs that were used for medicines, ghost stories, superstitions, and stories about slavery and the Civil War.
The industrialization of central Appalachia is revealed in discussions about coal mining, life in coal camps, logging and rafting, work in wood-alcohol factories, the expansion of roads and railroads, and the struggle of many to keep their land. The Great Depression increased hardships, and some survived by making moonshine. Others were helped by the Works Progress Administration and the Civilian Conservation Corps. Two world wars interrupted the lives of many Appalachian residents, as did feuds, floods, and other violent events and natural disasters.
Other topics include education and schools, religion and churches, politics, doctors, social life, games and recreation, funeral practices, handicrafts, welfare, Lees Junior College, the city of Jackson, and Breathitt County.
If you would like more information about receiving a copy of an audio file or transcript from this collection please contact:
Cathy Branson (Library Director, Project Leader)
** Please note due to limited staffing additional time may be required to answer emails and process requests.
If you are in the area and would like to stop in you can come to the Hazard Community and Technical College Lees College Campus Library located at:
601 Jefferson Avenue
Jackson, KY 41339
(Weekdays from 8:00 – 4:30)
A full index of our collection will be posted soon here and at: