For as long as Appalachia has been thought of as a distinct part of the United States, it has been commonly perceived as a place with social and economic problems as great as the extraordinary natural wealth and diversity of the complex and weathered mountain system which gives the region its name. In the twenty-first century, as it has been for a hundred years, the region continues to be laden with mythology, subjected to recurring debate, and held up as one of America’s enduring social and economic “problems.” Beginning in the late nineteenth century, novelists, educators, and big-city journalists created a dominant image of the central Appalachians as a hinterland populated by a backward people left behind, more or less suspended in time as the rest of America modernized and prospered.

Over the years, the region has been periodically “rediscovered”—and its mythology reinforced—by home missionaries, charitable foundations, social workers, politicians, muckrakers, government officials, and other “outsiders” intent upon “helping” in one way or another.

In some instances, mountain folk were romanticized as thoroughly noble pioneers, in others ridiculed as inbred, violent, and barely civilized, but in any case socially and physically isolated from the rest of America and different from other Americans. In a dismissive commentary on the region, noted English historian Arnold J. Toynbee provided a toehold for those who would later attribute Appalachia’s massively publicized economic and social deficits to a “culture of poverty” in which the inhabitants themselves were deemed to be substantially culpable. “The modern Appalachian has . . . failed to hold his ground and has gone downhill in a most disconcerting fashion,” Toynbee wrote in a 1947 abridgment of his epic work A Study of History. “In fact,” he continued, “the Appalachian ‘mountain people’ today are no better than barbarians. They have relapsed into illiteracy and witchcraft. They suffer from poverty, squalor and ill health. They are the American counterparts of the latter day White barbarians of the Old World—Rifis, Albanians, Kurds, Pathans and Hairy Ainus; but, whereas these latter are belated survivals of an ancient barbarism, the Appalachians present the melancholy spectacle of a people who have acquired civilization and then lost it.” No wonder stalwart mountaineers’ concern over stereotypes and negative images often borders on obsession even now.

Federal intervention in the Appalachian region, focusing on the economy, spanned most of the twentieth century, beginning with the creation of national forests after industrial logging had denuded vast areas of the mountains, leaving naked slopes cut by gullies and blackened by brush fires. This involvement grew and accelerated with a rush of 1930s New Deal initiatives, most conspicuously the Tennessee Valley Authority, and it expanded with the War on Poverty, creation of the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), and the rise of other programs during the 1960s and 1970s, when central Appalachia became nationally synonymous with rural poverty and all of its consequences.

Notwithstanding the more recent decline of social activism in government policy, special federal assistance continues to be provided to the region through numerous agencies, and the region still has its own dedicated federal-state bureaucracy in the ARC. The poverty stereotype persists. In the heart of the region, employment in the coal-mining industry has declined to a fraction of its heyday, and manufacturing languishes in urban centers. Now populated by some 23 million people, Appalachia still struggles to capitalize on its natural resources in a sustainable fashion.

The region remains a place of stunning natural and cultural extremes, though in the latter third of the twentieth century, it moved closer to the nation’s social and economic mainstream. Like the rest of the country, Appalachia was transformed by modern technologies, albeit in ways that were often contradictory, and in certain ways painful, unwelcome, and even destructive. While rural mountain areas were swept out of isolation by modern roads and communications, once thriving coal-mining communities became ghost towns. Suburbs, retirement enclaves, and vacation retreats sprouted, but traditional farms were abandoned; local retailers failed and Main Streets declined as franchises and outsized chain stores sprang up along bypass roads and highway interchanges in county seats across rural Appalachia. And as smokestack industries declined, urban centers and manufacturing capitals such as Pittsburgh and Birmingham faced the imperative of reinventing themselves.

The pace and breadth of change has deepened interest in scholarly study of Appalachia’s history and led to systematic deconstruction of the mythical mountain frontier, the forces that have changed it, and conflicting perceptions—harbored by both “insiders” and “outsiders”—of the past, present, and future. What has emerged in the light of continuing research is a more complex cultural tapestry incorporating images of a region historically engaged with the national economy.

In 1978, as the Appalachian studies movement came into its own, historian Henry D. Shapiro suggested that the Appalachia of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries was, rather than a distinctive region of the country, largely an idea created by writers from the urban North. In the academic community, Shapiro’s landmark work Appalachia on Our Mind: The Southern Mountains and Mountaineers in the American Consciousness, 1870–1920 resonated for years after its publication, inspiring continuing efforts to define the region and sort out the nuances of mythology and reality in its history.

The Encyclopedia of Appalachia embraces the notion of a region that, rather than an invention or a concept, is a real place with a distinctive history, people, and culture — though often redefined, frequently remapped, and exhaustively debated. The volume reflects a perspective expressed by David E. Whisnant, a keen observer of Appalachian mythology, culture, and institutions, who once remarked that the region “long characterized by a single stereotype is actually almost too diverse to generalize about at all.”

Wherefore Appalachia?

Of all of America’s distinctive regions, Appalachia has perhaps the most complex history, for as much as it is a geographical entity, it is indeed a cultural concept constantly evolving even as its borders’ geographical boundaries are redrawn. In unconnected and changing political and historical frameworks, the region’s maps have changed to suit myriad purposes. While all of the various efforts to define the region acknowledge the importance of the Appalachian Mountains, none of them adopt physiography or topography as the sole determinant of boundaries. In the case of other identifiable regions of the country, state lines help with geographical definitions, but in the instance of Appalachia, state boundaries are of no use in defining either the geographic or cultural outlines of the region. Thus the limits of Appalachia are a subject of recurring rumination, though in every conception the region stretches from the Deep South far beyond the Mason-Dixon Line into the North, assuring that both its political and cultural histories are as complex as its landscape.

The Encyclopedia broadly adopts the definition of Appalachia used by the federal government, more specifically the Appalachian Regional Commission. In 2005 the region encompassed 410 counties in portions of thirteen states. Amended several times over the years, the map was first codified in 1965 when Congress passed the Appalachian Regional Development Act, creating the ARC to work with eleven Appalachian states in promoting economic development. With economic need as the criterion, lawmakers fashioned an Appalachia composed of 360 upland counties, including the whole of West Virginia and areas more or less contiguous with the mountains in Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, and the Carolinas.

Before the end of the year, thirteen New York counties were added, and in 1967 twenty Mississippi counties were included, expanding Appalachia into a total of thirteen states. Further additions came in 1990, 1991, 1998, and 2002, bringing the total to 410 counties, spread as far west as the longitude of Louisville, Kentucky, southwest almost to the Mississippi River Delta, and south to the vicinity of Montgomery, Alabama. Further expansion appeared to be on the way, with preliminary congressional approval (in 2004) of legislation to add twelve more counties, further expanding Appalachian Tennessee, Virginia, Kentucky, and Ohio.

At the beginning, as ever since, the federal map reflected the exigencies of congressional politics as much as economic need, geography, or culture. Many inhabitants of Pennsylvania and New York were surprised to learn that the government in Washington considered them Appalachians, and some were opposed to the very idea. Newly elected New York Senator Robert F. Kennedy, who had taken up a deep interest in the region during his brother’s 1960 presidential campaign, led the effort to make the southern tier counties of his adopted state part of the federal region. Similarly, Mississippi was included largely due to the influence of Representative Jamie Whitten, a powerful member of the House Appropriations Committee. On the other hand, a number of Virginia mountain counties that were Appalachian by any standard except political were left out because their representative, Richard H. Poff, was opposed to the 1965 bill.

While legend says that Hernando de Soto’s 1539–40 expedition into the southern highlands gave the Appalachians a name the explorers had picked up from the Apalachee Indians in present day northern Florida, the first known map with the word Apalachen associated with a depiction of mountains appeared in 1562. It was not until after the Revolutionary War that Appalachian came to refer to the entire system of mountains in the eastern United States. The notion of the Appalachia as a distinct region developed only toward the end of the nineteenth century.

In the late 1890s, William Goodell Frost, president of Berea College in Kentucky, and geologist C. Willard Hayes outlined a region in parts of eight states. What Frost called “Appalachian America” included portions of the Piedmont Plateau, the Tennessee Valley, the Blue Ridge Mountains, and the Cumberland Plateau. Thereafter, several other Appalachias, based in varying degrees upon history, cultural artifacts, the economy, and physiography, were identified before Congress finally instituted its version heavily based upon economic need. In his 1913 book Our Southern Highlanders, Horace Kephart centered an Appalachian region in the Great Smoky and Unaka Mountains along the Tennessee–North Carolina border. In 1921 John C. Campbell’s landmark The Southern Highlander and His Homeland outlined a far more expansive region of 254 counties in nine states. Fourteen years later, a study by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Agricultural Economics offered one concept of a 206-county region in six states and another reaching into three additional states.

Since 1938, continuing efforts to define the region have had the benefit of a remarkable description of the mountain system’s physiography, confirmed in the Space Age by a variety of orbiting sensors. In his Physiography of the Eastern United States (1938), University of Cincinnati geologist Nevin M. Fenneman placed the Appalachians into four distinct provinces—from west to east, the Appalachian Plateau extending from western New York to northern Georgia; the Ridge and Valley running from New York to Georgia; the Blue Ridge, extending from Pennsylvania to northern Georgia; and the Piedmont, the low hills between the Blue Ridge and the coastal plain of the Atlantic seaboard.

To put the finest point on limits of the mountain system, some definitions have gone so far as to identify specific features as its beginning and/or end. Naturalist Scott Weidensaul and others have, for example, labeled the modest 2,407-foot Cheaha Mountain in northeastern Alabama as the southernmost peak of the Appalachians, and Belle Isle, a fifteen-square-mile granite island rising 700 feet above the North Atlantic between Newfoundland and Labrador as the northern terminus.

Still, even considering decades of work by historians, social scientists, natural scientists, writers, and government agencies, the perception of Appalachia perhaps best known to the world is the one associated with the Appalachian Trail, a 2,174-mile footpath extending through the highlands from Springer Mountain in north Georgia to Mount Katahdin in north-central Maine. Conceived in 1921 by naturalist and regional planner Benton MacKaye, the trail is used by as many as four million hikers each year.

The widely differing maps have encouraged efforts to incorporate earlier iterations into a distinctive region more clearly united by history, culture, economy, and topography. In 1984 University of Kentucky geographers Karl B. Raitz and Richard Ulack defined an Appalachia of 445 counties in thirteen states. While leaving out all of the Mississippi counties included in the federal definition, they added two counties in northwestern New Jersey and expanded the boundary to the south and east to include the urban areas around Columbia, South Carolina; Raleigh, North Carolina; Richmond, Virginia; and Atlanta, Georgia. Historian John Alexander Williams similarly drew upon six previous definitions to produce a “consensus” region and then a “core” region made up of counties found in all of the major maps previously drawn. The “core” region eliminated all counties in Alabama, Mississippi, South Carolina, Maryland, New York, and Pennsylvania, plus two in Georgia, six in Kentucky, four in North Carolina, five in Tennessee, nine in Virginia, and nine in West Virginia, leaving a core of only 164 highland counties in six states.

While the Appalachia created by Congress in 1965 was expanded southward by powerful southerners in Congress, it also recognized a northern Appalachia that had been excluded from the earlier more restrictive concepts. By including all of western Pennsylvania and angling across the state to its northeastern corner, the federal boundary embraced not only Pittsburgh, capital of the nineteenth-century industrial transformation fueled by Appalachian resources, but a “hearth place” of American culture and a wellspring of westward migration. As Williams noted in his widely read Appalachia: A History (2002), it was “from Pennsylvania that industrializing forces spread southward during the nineteenth century, and it was there that socioeconomic issues raised by de-industrialization emerged to make the entire region a focus of policy concern in the twentieth.”

Accepting the broad, federally defined Appalachia as its universe, and sometimes looking beyond it, the Encyclopedia of Appalachia also reflects the reality of a “core” region where the affinity of history, culture, the economy, and the mountain land is strongest. Accordingly, the volume includes more entries concerning northern Georgia, eastern Kentucky, western North Carolina, east Tennessee, southwestern Virginia, and West Virginia. On the other hand, it recognizes the importance of natural history, natural resources, topography, and landscape, particularly in its “Geology,” “Ecology,” and “Environment” sections, which tend to look at the Appalachian Mountains rather than the Appalachian region enshrined in federal statutes or popular culture.

The Modern Place

All things considered, Appalachia changed more profoundly in the late twentieth century than in any comparable period in its history, although the statistical evidence is sometimes deceptive as well as revealing. In a span of thirty years following passage of the Appalachian Development Act and creation of the Appalachian Regional Commission, the poverty rate of the politically defined region was cut in half as the economy diversified, employment increased, educational attainment rose, transportation infrastructure modernized, and health care and housing improved. The “plumbing gap” and the famed Appalachian outhouse cauterized in the negative regional stereotype went the way of the one-room schoolhouse, replaced by “manufactured housing” as the new emblem of regional habitation.

Three decades after Washington set out to lift poverty from Appalachia, West Virginia economist Andrew M. Isserman found the region wholly different from the one the President’s Appalachian Regional Commission in 1964 broadly described as rural and impoverished, with a declining population and deficits in education, income, and standards of living. In a report for the Appalachian Regional Commission based on findings of the 1990 census, Isserman concluded:

The characterization of Appalachia promulgated by the Report of the President’s Appalachian Regional Commission in 1964 is of limited validity today. At the time it reinforced the popular image of Appalachia—low income, high poverty, limited education, poor living standards, job deficits, high unemployment, outmigration, stagnation, and decline. Today those conditions do not characterize the region as a whole. Current data support neither the 1964 characterization of Appalachia as a region apart statistically nor the 1964 assertion that Appalachians lack fully active membership in the American society. Instead, the statistics show a region that has improved greatly, still lags the nation on some broad indicators, and still contains some of the worst off counties in the nation.

During the 1990s, the trends observed by Isserman continued. The region’s population increased by 9 percent, urbanization accelerated, the population aged, and the service-oriented economy continued to grow as jobs in manufacturing, mining, forestry, and agriculture waned.

While revealing, regional economic statistics are also deceptive, for they obscure extremes of life in modern Appalachia, just as the political definition of the region muddies perceptions of a part of America unified by history, culture, ecology, and landscape.

Like the rest of the country, Appalachia has seen its prosperity concentrated in urban areas, not only within the region but within the suburbs stretching into the region from cities such as Atlanta, Birmingham, Winston-Salem, Lexington, Cincinnati, Columbus, Cleveland, and even Washington, D.C. Atlanta, as well as any city in America, exemplified the megalopolis of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, its northern sprawl precipitating rapid development in Appalachian north Georgia, causing planners to contemplate a monorail rail link between Atlanta’s Hartsfield International Airport and Chattanooga.

And also like the rest of America, Appalachia saw its rural areas continue to struggle; its neediest rural mountain counties, long exploited for their coal and timber, remained in some instances starkly poor.

Rather than regionwide, the economic dynamism of late-twentieth-century Appalachia was generally concentrated in the South, where the rate of growth exceeded that of the rest of the country. Not coincidentally, long before the Appalachian Development Act and late-twentieth-century regional initiatives, southern Appalachia had already been the beneficiary of the most audacious of all federally funded regional development projects—the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). But by the late twentieth century, TVA bore scant resemblance to the reform-minded agency of the New Deal years, and indeed its huge purchases of strip-mined coal in the 1950s had contributed to the conditions that made eastern Kentucky the face of poverty in the 1960s. Nevertheless, decades of cheap TVA power and a Tennessee River open to navigation had set the stage for the prosperity enjoyed in portions of southern Appalachia in the latter decades of the century, when the former farming region, with automobile, aluminum, and aerospace plants, became Appalachia’s manufacturing area. Symbolic of the transformation of the rural South was Huntsville, Alabama, a cotton mill town that became one of the hubs of America’s government and industry aerospace complex.

As the lingering impact of TVA illustrates, the distinctive twenty-first century faces of northern, central, and southern areas of Appalachia reflect distinctive histories. Even as the late twentieth century brought increasing prosperity to Appalachian portions of the New South, urban areas in the northern subregion, like the rest of the nation’s Rust Belt, struggled to find themselves in the postindustrial economy. In 2004 Pittsburgh, the de facto capital of the American Industrial Revolution, was in danger of bankruptcy and officially designated as “financially distressed” by the State of Pennsylvania—even though surrounding Allegheny County was one of nine counties in all of Appalachia that equaled or exceeded national averages in per capita income, employment, and poverty levels.

While southern Appalachia’s population grew by 18 percent in the 1990s, the northern subregion—New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Ohio, and fifty-five counties in northern West Virginia—barely grew at all. Ten of New York’s fourteen Appalachian counties lost population.

The heart of the region, the “core” around the coalfields of eastern Kentucky, southern West Virginia, southwestern Virginia, and east Tennessee, while healthier in some instances and respects than it had been in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, continued to lag behind the rest of the region and the country by nearly every measure of economic health at the beginning of the new century. Even though the Appalachian Regional Commission removed thirteen counties in the area from the officially “distressed” category in 2003, coal country still included sixty-seven of the ninety-one counties in that category—meaning they continued to have unemployment rates at least 150 percent of the national average, per capita income less than two-thirds the national average, and poverty rates at least double the national average.

With mining and forestry employment having declined and out-migration having continued, some of the distressed mountain counties were hardly any better off than they had been in 1960. Even though the area’s population grew by 6 percent during the 1990s, many of the distressed counties’ populations stood at under twenty-five thousand as the new century began, and some had fewer than ten thousand residents.

A Region Considered

Although popular awareness of Appalachia is a relatively recent phenomenon—its entry in the sixth edition of The Columbia Encyclopedia (2000) is only linked to articles on the Appalachian Mountains, Berea College, and the dulcimer—academic interest in the region has deep roots. From early conceptions of an entity unified by geography, history, and culture and from works such as such as John C. Campbell’s The Southern Highlander and His Homeland (1921) and the 1922 reissue of Horace Kephart’s Our Southern Highlanders, a nascent Appalachian studies movement developed about 1930. A New York conference, instigated by Campbell’s widow, Olive Dame Campbell, and Berea College professor Helen Dingman and hosted by the Russell Sage Foundation in 1929, led to the landmark survey Economic and Social Problems and Conditions of the Southern Appalachians. Published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 1935, it covered a region of 205 mountain counties in six states

Twenty-seven years passed before publication of another major regional analysis, The Southern Appalachian Region: A Survey, edited by Thomas R. Ford of the University of Kentucky and published by the University Press of Kentucky. During the interim, however, native-born sociologists and anthropologists were doing research that formed the underpinnings of the late-twentieth-century Appalachian studies movement. Among the seminal works were James S. Brown’s epic, multigenerational study of families in an eastern Kentucky community he called Beech Creek; Cratis Williams’s New York University doctoral dissertation, “The Southern Mountaineer in Fact and Fiction” (1961); and, later, John Stephenson’s Shiloh: A Mountain Community (1968).

What greatly energized interest in regional study and helped to foster a community of Appalachian social science scholarship, however, were best-selling popular books and the characterization of Appalachia as the epitome of poverty at a moment when new federal government initiatives echoed the social activism of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal. Appearing within a year of each other, just as the Kennedy administration contemplated a major economic-development program for the region, were Michael Harrington’s The Other America: Poverty in the United States (1962), and Harry Caudill’s Night Comes to the Cumberlands: A Biography of a Depressed Area (1963).

Widely read by government officials, politicians, and journalists in Washington, both works accepted and advanced the concept that a culture of poverty enveloped poor places in the country. Promoted by anthropologist Oscar Lewis, the culture of poverty social theory came into vogue in the 1960s and 1970s during the War on Poverty. It faded as historians and social scientists came to see that it perpetuated stereotypes and placed the blame for poor economic conditions at the feet of the poor themselves.

Night Comes to the Cumberlands, having done much to imprint economic conditions in the coalfields upon the national conscience, became a prime source of debate in what Berea College historian Richard B. Drake would later call the “Appalachian Conversation.” Because of the power of its prose and the author’s standing as a fifthgeneration Kentuckian and former legislator, Caudill’s book brought a flood of national and foreign journalists into central Appalachia and led to exposés of poverty, environmental destruction, and corruption. A generation after Caudill’s death, Night Comes to the Cumberlands and subsequent works such as Theirs Be the Power: The Moguls of Eastern Kentucky (1983) continued to be controversial in academic circles, but his first book remained the most sweeping, best-known, and most influential text about the core region and its people.

From Caudill’s era onward, negative imagery arising from print and broadcast journalism has been wildly embroidered by popular and profitable television sitcoms and movies. To outsiders with only a vague awareness of Appalachia, mass-media images blurred with reality. The extent of the region’s consequent image problem is well illustrated by an entry in a 1991 Encyclopedia of World Cultures. It reported the following: “There are six or seven children in the average family, although families with ten or more children are not uncommon. Inbreeding is reported to be very common.”

Although Appalachians’ research and writing about their region blossomed in the 1970s, analysis, introspection, and reflection upon the people and place spanned the twentieth century. Early novelists and local color writers were joined by social workers, religious activists, teachers, and civic leaders in what Kentucky novelist Gurney Norman has styled as a perpetual dialogue.

Beginning in the late twentieth century, the region whose history was largely unwritten when Caudill published Night Comes to the Cumberlands saw an outpouring of traditional history, revisionism, cultural exploration, and social criticism. Becoming major regional study texts soon after publication were volumes such as Ronald D. Eller’s Miners, Millhands, and Mountaineers: Industrialization of the Appalachian South, 1880–1930 (1982); Drake’s A History of Appalachia (2001); John Alexander Williams’ Appalachia: A History (2002); and Appalachia Inside Out, a two-volume collection edited by Robert J. Higgs, Ambrose N. Manning, and Jim Wayne Miller (1995).

Stirring long-running discussion of the region’s elegant complexities and contradictions were works such as David E. Whisnant’s Modernizing the Mountaineer: People, Power, and Planning in Appalachia (1981) and All That Is Native and Fine: The Politics of Culture in an American Region (1983); Deborah Vansau McCauley’s Appalachian Mountain Religion: A History (1995); and Wilma A. Dunaway’s The First American Frontier: Transition to Capitalism in Southern Appalachia, 1700–1860 (1996).

The Volume

The Encyclopedia of Appalachia is a product of the historical, and the ongoing, Appalachian conversation. Like a number of other regional and state encyclopedia projects, this volume was to some extent inspired by the acclaimed Encyclopedia of Southern Culture (1989). Beginning with a general discussion at the 1995 annual conference of the Appalachian Studies Association at West Virginia University, it evolved through individual discussions, focus group meetings, editorial board conferences, and support from members of a national advisory board. Within its pages will be found the work of more than fifteen hundred individuals—writers, editors, photographers, cartographers, and others. The contributors include not only academic specialists from scores of educational institutions but also independent scholars, journalists, administrators, and professionals from far-flung public and private institutions.

Since there has been no general reference work on the Appalachian region, the volume is designed for a wide audience; accessibility has been made the hallmark of its presentation. Early in the project, a topical, rather than alphabetical, organization was selected in the belief that it would enhance readability and add a dimension of understanding and synergism. Thus the Encyclopedia is divided into thirty sections organized into five parts: “The Landscape,” “The People,” “Work and the Economy,” “Cultural Traditions,” and “Institutions.” Each section is introduced by an essay intended to supplement the individual entries and provide further context for them.

In some instances, in sections such as “Visual Arts” and “Performing Arts,” entries cover subjects on which published material is scarce and research largely remains to be done. In others, historical data is rich, but definitive contemporary information is difficult to find—such is the case with “Agriculture,” due to the declining importance of farming in modern times. In still others—namely “Geology,” “Ecology,” and “Environment”— entries sometimes address the Appalachian Mountains as distinct from the cultural and political conceptions of the Appalachian region.

As might be expected, sections dealing with the region’s signature subjects, those most clearly bespeaking Appalachian life, history, and identity, receive the most prominent treatment. Among these are “Food and Cooking,” “Music,” “Religion,” and “Crafts.”

Given the scope of the subject, the constraints of a single volume, the complexities of organization, the pace of change, and the inevitability of oversight, the Encyclopedia cannot presume to be all-inclusive. It was impossible, for instance, to include biographical entries on all of the Appalachians who have distinguished themselves (or achieved notoriety in less than admirable fashion). By their nature, some sections, such as “Literature” and “Sports and Recreation,” are replete with biographical entries. Other sections incorporate biographical material throughout their texts, but nevertheless notable Appalachians are missing from these pages, often because their accomplishments lack a direct Appalachian association. Such individuals include Holmes Rolston III, the environmental and religious philosopher born in the mountains of Virginia, and Nobel Laureate John Nash, the West Virginian whose life and struggle with schizophrenia was the subject of the award-winning motion picture A Beautiful Mind.

The speed and power of communication technologies that have dramatically affected Appalachia have made the compilation of this volume a constantly evolving endeavor. Rather than a finished product, the editors look upon it as a beginning, a cornerstone of a regional reference that will be increasingly accessible, relevant, and useful.

Rudy Abramson, Reston, Virginia,
and Jean Haskell, East Tennessee State University