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The Southern Appalachian Region

The Southern Appalachian Region: A Survey

Edited by THOMAS R. FORD
Copyright Date: 1962
Pages: 328
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  • Book Info
    The Southern Appalachian Region
    Book Description:

    The Southern Appalachian Region is the largest American "problem area" -- an area whose participation in the economic growth of the nation has not been sufficient to relieve the chronic poverty of its people. The existence of the problem was recognized a generation ago, but in the past decade the resistance of such areas to economic advance has acquired a more urgent significance in American thought.

    In 1958, a group of scholars undertook to make a new survey of the Southern Appalachian Region. Aided by grants from the Ford Foundation ultimately amounting to $250,000, they set out to analyze the direction and extent of the changes which had taken place since the last survey (in1935), to define the problem in terms of the present situation, and -- if possible -- to arrive at recommendations for action which might enable the leaders of the Region and the nation to attack the problem with practical measures. In this volume are presented their comprehensive reports on the Region's population, its economy, its institutions, and its culture.

    The problems defined by this survey are a challenge to the whole nation, for the consequences of success or failure in solving them will not be limited to the Southern Appalachian Region.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-6517-2
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Foreword
    (pp. v-vi)
    W. D. Weatherford

    THIS VOLUME PRESENTS THE FINDINGS of the most comprehensive survey of the Southern Appalachians ever undertaken. Many smaller studies have been made in the Region during the past twenty-five years. Some of them have been studies of special subjects such as health conditions or the work of a single denomination in the mountains. Others have been limited to a single state, county, or community. Regional data which are comparable from one state to another have rarely been available. So little original field work has been done in recent years that data have been insufficient to enable any organization to set...

  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-xvi)
  4. CHAPTER ONE The Region: A New Survey
    (pp. 1-8)

    CITY AND COUNTRY, EAST AND WEST, the United States is a nation of many contrasts. In this pattern of unity in diversity, the Southern Appalachians stand out as a distinctive region. It bears certain resemblances to highland areas everywhere; its life and culture remained in the frontier stage longer than in most American regions; it is also a province of the American South; but, most important, it is an integral part of our national structure—a fact to be emphasized throughout.

    The Southern Appalachians, with the highest peaks and the most sharply dissected plateaus east of the Rockies, consist of...

  5. CHAPTER TWO The Passing of Provincialism
    (pp. 9-34)

    EVEN THE MOST CASUAL OBSERVER of conditions in the Southern Appalachian Region during the past three decades cannot fail to be aware of the tremendous material changes. The sprawling growth of the Region’s metropolitan areas and the abandoned cabins up narrow hollow roads provide impressive evidence of major population shifts. Brush cover and second-growth timber reclaiming mountain slopes once cultivated to the very ridges, and unfamiliar silhouettes of industrial smokestacks in the Great Appalachian Valley bear equally eloquent testimony of a transforming economy. Hard-surface highways along mountain streams which themselves a scant generation ago served as roadbeds, and television antennas...

  6. The Changing Population

    • [Introduction]
      (pp. 35-36)

      NEARLY thirty years ago the survey published under the titleEconomic and Social Problems and Conditions of the Southern Appalachiansdiagnosed the basic problems of the Region as a maladjustment between population and resources. Since then, there have been changes in both population and resource development, but the continued definition of the Southern Appalachians as a problem area is evidence of the failure to achieve a satisfactory balance thus far.

      In the first of the three essays in this section, John C. Belcher describes the major changes in the growth, distribution, and characteristics of the Region’s population. He notes the...

    • CHAPTER THREE Population Growth and Characteristics
      (pp. 37-53)

      MOST INTEREST IN THE SOUTHERN Appalachians is not in physical resources, climate, and topography of the area but rather in the people of the region and their social institutions. The stereotype of the “mountaineer” which is so firmly fixed in many minds bears little resemblance to the reality of today—or, indeed, of any other time.

      Tremendous changes have taken place in the Appalachians during the twentieth century and change continues today at an accelerated pace. Birth rates in the area, long higher than in other regions, are rapidly declining and today appear to be lower than for the nation...

    • CHAPTER FOUR The Great Migration, 1940-1960
      (pp. 54-78)

      DURING THE TEN YEARS BETWEEN 1950 and 1960, the Southern Appalachian Region had a net loss through migration of more than one million persons, a number equal to nearly a fifth of the total population in 1950. So many more people left the Region than came into it that the rate of natural increase (excess of births over deaths) could not offset the net loss due to migration. Consequently, the 1960 census revealed a regional population decrease for the first time since the Appalachians were settled.

      Since before the turn of the century, the American people have been moving from...

    • CHAPTER FIVE Appalachian Newcomers in Cincinnati
      (pp. 79-84)

      ONE WAY OF EVALUATING HOW WELL families have adjusted to the demands of urban life is to study their participation in social activities. The accelerated flow of migrants from the Southern Appalachians—especially from rural areas—to northern cities within the past decade has made the experience of these newcomers in relation to schools, churches, industries, social welfare agencies, and other institutions a matter of increasing concern. Professional persons who work with new residents in such cities as Cincinnati, Cleveland, Chicago, Dayton, and Baltimore, have manifested their interest in numerous meetings and conferences held in recent years.

      The present study...

  7. The Changing Economy

    • [Introduction]
      (pp. 85-86)

      THE GOAL of a desirable balance between people and resources may be achieved in a variety of ways, but all involve changes in the population, or in the development of the resources, or both. In the preceding section, emphasis was placed on population changes in the Southern Appalachians. In this section, specialists discuss the more important economic resources in the Region, the present state of their development, and their developmental potential.

      Agriculture has been a traditional economic mainstay for many areas of the Region, even when supplementary sources of income were available. But the national agricultural revolution, involving a shift...

    • CHAPTER SIX Agriculture: A Reassessment
      (pp. 87-101)

      SOUTHERN APPALACHIAN AGRICULTURE is describable as a situation resulting from too few resources being divided among too many people. The low income status of the average farmer of this region cannot be attributed to a low level of productivity of the resources, other than labor, used in agriculture; it must, instead, be attributed to the fact that the Region’s agricultural resources are inadequate to support the present density of farm population.

      The lack of agricultural resources, especially land suitable for farming, is evidenced by the average size of farms in the Appalachians. The average farm in the Appalachians, when compared...

    • CHAPTER SEVEN Extractive Industries and Forestry
      (pp. 102-122)

      THE NATURAL WEALTH FOUND IN THE Southern Appalachians is in many forms. It includes the rivers that carry barge traffic and that provide hydroelectric power when dammed, as in the T.V.A. system. The soil is part of its wealth, though much of this is too poor to support a vigorous agriculture. Nearly two-thirds of the land surface is wooded, much of it in hardwoods, nearly all of it qualifying as commercial forest. The natural wealth of greatest present consequence over much of the territory, however, consists of deposits of minerals. These are of a number of sorts, but far and...

    • CHAPTER EIGHT The Development of Manufacturing
      (pp. 123-135)

      IN LOOKING AT THE DEVELOPMENT of manufacturing in the Southern Appalachian Region, we are faced at first with some popular preconceptions. One of these is that manufacturing would be unusual because the Region has mountains and hence must be populated with “mountain people,” the very words calling up stereotyped pictures of isolation, poverty, stubborn self-reliance, poor education, and lack of communication—all characteristics unfavorable to urbanization and the development of manufacturing, which is supposed to be a part of city life. Another preconception is that there is something dehumanizing about manufacture even though it does increase incomes for its participants....

    • CHAPTER NINE The Potential of Tourism
      (pp. 136-148)

      THE UNITED STATES IS A NATION OF travelers. It has been estimated that the American people spend between 25 and 29 billion dollars yearly for travel abroad and at home. Of this amount two to three billion dollars are spent for foreign travel, five to six billion dollars for business travel, and between eighteen and twenty billion dollars for domestic tourist travel annually.

      Does the Southern Appalachian area get its proportionate share of this multibillion dollar industry? Actually, nobody knows. The tourist business has grown so rapidly and become so important in the economy of the area that there is...

  8. The Changing Society

    • [Introduction]
      (pp. 149-150)

      MAN IS by nature a political animal, observed Aristotle, meaning thereby that humans live in organized societies and that their actions are in large measure the products of group influences. Thus in attempting to understand the relationship of man to his physical environment, it is necessary to take into account his social institutions—the patterns of social behavior developed to perform the basic functions of adjusting to, explaining, and, insofar as possible, controlling his life situation.

      The technological revolution of the past two centuries has been accompanied by a social revolution characterized by a general shift of basic functions from...

    • CHAPTER TEN Local Government
      (pp. 151-168)

      THIRTY YEARS AGO COUNTY AND CITY government in the Southern Appalachians was primitive and casual. The public offices were held for the most part either by petty politicians, often members of families long active politically, or by men of limited ability who were enticed by public jobs that paid quite modest salaries. No doubt the prestige, real or imagined, an easy berth, and a possible opportunity to profit by being on the “inside” were also allurements. The more important point to be made is that usually the officeholders were rank amateurs. Simple and small scale as were most operations, they...

    • CHAPTER ELEVEN Local, State, and Regional Planning
      (pp. 169-187)

      THIRTY YEARS AGO THREE MEETINGS were held at the University of Tennessee under the general title “Conference on Companionship of Agriculture and lndustry.”¹ The major concern of the conference was the declining farm population and income. Participants saw as a solution to the problem the location of small industrial plants in the country where they could draw their employees from the farm population. Income from work in the plants would supplement farm income. As the time of the conferences was a period of economic depression, farms were considered a refuge where the employees of rural industry could sustain themselves when...

    • CHAPTER TWELVE The Needs of Education
      (pp. 188-200)

      DEMOCRACY IS THE SOCIETY IN WHICH the supreme object is the development of the individual. Education in our nation is dedicated to the achievement of our national goal of individual fulfillment, and is concerned with the education of all citizens. No individual's potential should remain undeveloped. The productive contribution of each person is essential to our nation’s welfare and continued growth.

      In a few of our states about four-fifths of the youth complete four years of high school and one-half enroll in college. But in many states less than half complete high school and less than one-fifth enter college. The...

    • CHAPTER THIRTEEN Religion and the Churches
      (pp. 201-218)

      THE FIRST SETTLERS IN THE REGION were English, Scotch-Irish, and German, with a sprinkling of French and Highland Scotch. By and large they were nonconformist sectarians in religion, with ties to the early Lollards, Puritans, Separatists, Anabaptists, Presbyterians, and French Huguenots. Most of them or their immediate ancestors had· faced persecution in Europe. They came largely from the lower economic groups. Their settlement in the isolation of the Appalachian Highlands reinforced tendencies toward localism and suspicion of centralized authority. Later, evangelical revivals, pushed mostly by Baptists and Methodists, added a New World flavor to Old World nonconformity.¹

      The religious heritage...

    • CHAPTER FOURTEEN Health and Health Services
      (pp. 219-244)

      THE HEALTH OF ANY COUNTRY OR ANY major region results from many interacting factors. Some of these are common to all people. Other factors are correlated with variations in the broad cultural characteristics of peoples or with regional and local factors which influence the institutions by which health needs are served.

      In the United States, variations in health and health services within regions are often greater than variations between regions. Similarly, in the Southern Appalachians, variations in health and health services within state economic areas, and even within counties and communities, are greater than the variations between areas, counties, or...

    • CHAPTER FIFTEEN Social Problems and Welfare Services
      (pp. 245-256)

      A DESCRIPTION OF THE SOCIAL PROBLEMS in the Southern Appalachians must be largely subjective, for on many relevant topics only state data are available. When county data exist, they are often most fragmentary and incomplete for the problem areas with which we are here chiefly concerned. Low income, the most familiar of the Region’s problems and the chief source of many of the conditions to be discussed in this chapter, can be rather thoroughly documented, however. Income levels in the Appalachian counties are not only below those of the nation but, as a rule, are below those of the states...

  9. Folk Arts in Transition

    • [Introduction]
      (pp. 257-258)

      THE TENDENCY of traditionalistic societies to resist change is perhaps more than matched by the tendency of modern societies to deprecate traditional beliefs and practices as unprogressive and obsolete. Yet, even if we use the progressive’s criterion of functionalism, there is much to be found of value in the culture of yesteryear. Certainly this has proved to be the case in the preservation of the folk arts and crafts of the Southern Appalachian people.

      “The traditional folk arts may well find their last refuge between the covers of a few books,” write W. D. Weatherford and Wilma Dykeman in their...

    • CHAPTER SIXTEEN Literature since 1900
      (pp. 259-270)

      A CONTEMPORARY POET HAS SAID, “Literature is news that stays news.”¹ A contemparary American judge has offered the opinion that “literature exists for the sake of the people—to refresh the weary, to console the sad, to hearten the dull and downcast, to increase man’s interest in the world, his joy of living, and his sympathy in all sorts and conditions of man.”²

      There are, of course, other more profound definitions, but these two suggest an approach to consideration of the literature of the Southern Appalachian mountains as it fits the purposes of these studies. (1) Is there a significant...

    • CHAPTER SEVENTEEN Dances and Singing Games
      (pp. 271-278)

      EACH REGION OF THE UNITED STATES has its distinctive folk heritage, but in many regions a number of separate folk cultures are competing for survival. This is not the case in the Southern Appalachian Mountains, since its people are predominantly of British origin. The affinity of Appalachian square dancing and singing games to their British parentage is striking. This may be illustrated by an experience of Cecil J. Sharp, then director of the English Folk Dance and Song Society, who first visited the Region in 1916. When he saw mountain square dancing at Pine Mountain, Kentucky, “We realized at once...

    • CHAPTER EIGHTEEN The Revival of Handicrafts
      (pp. 279-288)

      IN A PRIMITIVE SOCIETY, SURVIVAL depends upon what one’s hands can make of the materials in his environment. Personal dignity is based upon independent achievement. A man looks upon the work of his hands—his tools, his household goods—and takes pride in their utilitarian beauty. Here lies the foundation of a culture.

      In a more sophisticated society, man’s fundamental need to create with his hands persists, even when the practical necessity for such creation is gone. The craft revival that has swept this country in recent years is an expression of that hunger for personal achievement. The man who...

  10. CHAPTER NINETEEN The Region’s Future: A National Challenge
    (pp. 289-300)

    OVER TWENTY-FIVE YEARS AGO, AN earlier survey of the Southern Appalachians concluded that the basic problems of the Region grew out of “maladjustments of land use and in relation of population to land.” Little has occurred in the intervening years to suggest that this diagnosis was incorrect. Glancing through the chapters of this report, though, the reader will find that sweeping changes have taken place in the Southern Appalachians during the past three decades. In general, these changes reflect the efforts of the people of the Region to achieve the living standards of the more prosperous areas of the nation....

  11. Contributors
    (pp. 301-302)
  12. Index
    (pp. 303-308)