Skip to Main Content
Ask A Librarian HoursLibrary CatalogArticle Databases RESEARCH SERVICESHELPINFORMATION FOR...

Appalachian Studies: Archives

"Each life is dirt and time and rhyme and stone." --Jesse Stuart, Man with A Bull-Tongue Plow (1934), Sonnet #678

Libraries, Museums, and Archives for Researching Appalachia

Appalachian Collection @ Virginia Tech - Blacksburg, VA

Virginia Tech’s Carol M. Newman Library houses the university’s Special Collections. Here users can access manuscripts, archived materials, and historical materials from the region’s history. Special Collections includes an Appalachian Collection, began in 1988, which includes nearly 300 hundred manuscripts. Information can be found on over 100 different railway systems, religious materials, family papers, and oral history collections.

Appalachian Cultural Museum @ Appalachian State University - Boone, NC

Note: the “Appalachian Cultural Museum” is a showcase of items from Appalachian State University Library's W. L. Eury Appalachian Collection as we track the progress of a two-year processing project funded by a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) to eliminate the Appalachian Collection backlog.

Located at Appalachian State University, this museum was created to foster an understanding of the people of the Appalachian Mountains and to serve as a laboratory for new museum ideas. Through exhibits, publications, and special events, the Museum presents the rich traditions of the region. The Museum gives new meaning to life in western North Carolina in a manner that is authentic and non-stereotypical.

Digital Library of Appalachia

Appalachian College Association Central Library. The Digital Library of Appalachia provides online access to archival and historical materials related to the culture of the southern and central Appalachian region. The contents of the DLA are drawn from special collections of Appalachian College Association member libraries.

Archives of Appalachia @ East Tennessee State University

The Archives of Appalachia houses approximately 18 million manuscripts, 75,000 sound recordings, and 250,000 images relating to various Appalachian topics.

Berea College Museum Collections - Berea, KY

Si Kahn Collection, 21 objects documenting traditional and revival period musical instruments made and used in the Southern Appalachian region. Berea College Special Collections, held by the Berea College Hutchins Library, containing the Weatherford-Hammond Mountain Collection, 15,000 volumes of published material on the southern Appalachian region; the Southern Appalachian Archives, 900 lin. ft.

Virginia Memory @ Library of Virginia or

Virginia Memory is part of the online presence of the Library of Virginia, the state archives and reference library at the seat of government for the Commonwealth of Virginia. Virginia Memory has been designed as a gateway to the Library of Virginia's digital collections, whether those items are indexed and delivered through traditional library systems, offered in online exhibitions, organized as resources for educators and students, or presented as research articles by staff who work with the collections on a daily basis.

Library of Congress Manuscripts Reading Room - Washington, D.C.

The Library of Congress is the nation's oldest federal cultural institution and serves as the research arm of Congress. It is also the largest library in the world, with more than 130 million items on approximately 530 miles of bookshelves. The collections include more than 29 million books and other printed materials, 2.7 million recordings, 12 million photographs, 4.8 million maps, and 58 million manuscripts.

 This Library of Congress Manuscript Reading Room includes links to finding aids and the American Memory online collections. It also includes information on Reading Room policies and procedures, instructions for searching manuscript catalog records in the Library's online catalog, online exhbits and resources, and the Division's annual acquisitions reports.

Morrow Library Special Collections @ Marshall University - Huntington, WV

Special Collections houses collections of a unique and specialized nature on the third floor of the James E. Morrow Library on the Marshall University campus.

McConnell Library @ Radford University

National Museum of American History Archives Center @ the Smithsonian Institute

The Archives Center contains archival collections documenting American music, ethnic imagery, advertising and advertising history, religion, technology and invention, material culture, sports, and transportation.

National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections

The mission of the NUCMC program is to provide and promote bibliographic access to the nation's documentary heritage. This mission is realized by NUCMC production of cataloging describing archival and manuscript collections held by eligible repositories located throughout the United States and its territories. The program's mission is further realized by the provision of free searching, via NUCMC gateways, of archival and manuscript cataloging in the RLG and OCLC union catalogs. Collection of links to sites in various states.

Repositories of Primary Sources for Eastern States @ University of Idaho

The University of Idaho Library’s Special Collections includes a repository of primary sources about the Eastern United States and Canada, arranged by state. Listings include information on public and university libraries, as well as museums, societies, and associations.

The Southern Folklife Collection

The Southern Folklife Collection on the fourth floor of Wilson Library houses one of the world's largest collections of Southeastern-tradition derived music.

Southern Historical Collection @ University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill

Index of Manuscripts inventory for Southern Historical Collection, UNC-CH.

The Southern Historical Collection (SHC) has developed a large-scale digitization program that is designed to provide online access to entire manuscript collections or to substantial portions of collections. The collections listed below were digitized in whole or in part under this program. Clicking on a collection name will take you to the collection's finding aid (a descriptive guide to the collection's contents). To search for other SHC collections or other digitized collections in UNC-Chapel Hill's University Library.

University of Tennessee, Knoxville Libraries - Knoxville, TN

The University of Tennessee’s Knoxville campus has three libraries: The John C. Hodges Main Library, the Webster C. Pendergrass Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine Library, and the George F. DeVine Music Library.

The Kentucky Digital Library - Hosted by the University of Kentucky

The Kentuckiana Digital Library is built to enhance scholarship, research and lifelong learning through the establishment of access to shared digital archival collections in the state of Kentucky. It also provides guidance and instruction for Kentucky libraries, archives, historical societies and museums on applying appropriate technologies used in the production of digital library resources.

West Virginia History Database - West Virginia Archives & History / West Virginia State Archives

Includes West Virginia Historical Societies and Repositories Guide to Collections Pertaining to West Virginia History Repositories outside West Virginia.

Southern Mountaineers the History of the William Leonard Emery Appalachian Collection.

West Virginia and Regional History Collection @ West Virginia University

The West Virginia and Regional History Center is the foremost historical archives/library in West Virginia, preserving the finest gathering of archives and manuscripts pertaining to the history of West Virginia and the central Appalachian region in existence. Located on the second floor of Colson Hall, the West Virginia and Regional History Collection contains a variety of primary and secondary source materials for the study of central Appalachia, the Upper Ohio region, and West Virginia itself.

W.L. Eury Appalachian Collection @ Appalachian State University

The William Leonard Eury Appalachian Collection is a repository with more than 44,000 volumes of books, over 200 periodical subscriptions, 8,000 sound recordings, and 1,500 videos and DVDs related to the Southern uplands, with strengths in the social sciences, regional history, folklore, music, religion, genealogy, fiction, and African and Native Appalachia. More information about the Appalachian Collection.


In addition to the State Archives listed under “West Virginia Resources,” the list below represents accessible resources, either online or at Marshall University.

Marshall University Special Collections
  • Manuscripts Manuscripts contain collections of primary records of individuals, organizations, businesses and other groups from the Tri-State region. There are over 700 manuscript collections. These collections consist of letters, diaries, research collections of local individuals, photographs, business records, scrapbooks, film, video tape, computer disks, microforms, etc. The individual collections vary in size from a few letters to hundreds of boxes of documents. Registers and guides for many collections are available to assist researchers in locating information.
  • Oral History of Appalachia Marshall Special Collections has over 600 oral histories available for use. To consult a full directory, you'll need to go to Special Collections. To consult the holdings that are listed on MILES (the Libraries' catalog) use “Marshall University Oral History of Appalachia” as the author's name. Alternatively, you may type in “Oral History” and “Appalachia” as key words. For a complete list type in “OH” on MILES under “basic search” and “call number.”
  • Cass WV: Pocahontas County The L. D. Folwer collection of letters and other papers were found in the Durbin Mercantile Store in Durbin, dating from 1900 to 1920. The collection also includes transcripts of interviews of persons involved in the Cass Railroad and the timber industry in Pocahontas County, WV. There is also a video of Dr. Robert Alexander's presentation on Cass, WV, given at the Sixth Annual Drinko Symposium.
  • Buffalo Creek: A Virtual Museum On February 26, 1972, a rain-soaked impoundment dam of the Buffalo Creek Coal Company collapsed, sending 138 million gallons of black waste water cascading down the narrow hollow. By the time the water subsided at the Guyandotte River, 125 persons were dead, another 1,000 were injured, over 500 homes were completely demolished, and nearly 1,000 others were damaged. Property damage exceeded $50 million.
  • Camp Washington Carver: A Virtual Museum The camp was established in 1942 as a summer camp for African-American youth. Initially called the " West Virginia Negro 4-H Camp," its name was soon changed to "Camp Washington-Carver" in honor of two prominent black Americans: Booker T. Washington and George Washington Carver.
Kentuckiana Digital Library