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Historically Marginalized Communities Resources in Special Collections and University Archives: Appalachian

This guide includes information about which Special Collections and University Archives holdings contain materials about the history of historically marginalized communities.

Virginia Tech's College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences offers a minor in Appalachian Studies that focuses on the unique literature and language of the Appalachian Region. Just what geographic area is included in the Appalachian Region is debatable but the Appalachian Regional Commission, established by Congress in 1965, defines it as "a 205,000-square-mile region that follows the spine of the Appalachian Mountains from southern New York to northern Mississippi. It includes all of West Virginia and parts of 12 other states: Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia." (

The mainly rural region has historically been heavily invested in mining, forestry, agriculture, chemical, and heavy industry and its residents have had a higher instance of life at or below the poverty line than in other parts of the country. The region is home to a rich cultural heritage including bluegrass music, the Hatfield-McCoy Feud, folk heroes like John Henry, and folklore like the Mothman.

Suggested Books, Manuscripts, and Online Resources

A guide specifically focused on Appalachian resources has been created. You can visit the guide via the link below.

Appalachian Resources in Special Collections and University Archives

The guide is designed to help researchers locate resources in Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) relating to Appalachia generally, as well as about specific topics. There are also links to other collections both analog and digital available online and from other institutions. The guide does not contain all of the materials in SCUA related to Appalachia, but is intended to be a helpful starting point for researchers.

The guide is broken up into sections by topic. Under each topic tab you will find links to resources including books, manuscript collections, and media. The "Digital/Online Resources" section contains links to digital paper collections, A/V and oral history collections, and search tools for primary sources and keywords. Digital and A/V materials related to a specific topic can be located under each topic section.

Rather than just one collection, the guide uses many different source materials from across the archives. If you are interested in learning more about a specific collection or have any questions, don't hesitate to contact a staff member for help or suggestions!

Suggested search terms

  • Appalachian
  • Appalachian Region
  • Appalachia
  • Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians
  • Melungeon
  • Blue Ridge Mountains
  • Allegheny Mountains
  • Great Smoky Mountains
  • Asheville, North Carolina
  • Birmingham, Alabama
  • Charleston, West Virginia
  • Chattanooga, Tennessee
  • Greenville, South Carolina
  • Huntington, West Virginia
  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Roanoke, Virginia
  • Scranton, Pennsylvania
  • Wheeling, West Virginia

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Anthony Wright de Hernandez
Community Collections Archivist
Special Collections and University Archives (0434)