Hillfolk History

All-too-often, seemingly buried in the myriad dates and statistics of history, lies the human experience that should do more to make up that history in the first place. These eyewitness accounts and anecdotes seem to speak to us, across the ages, in ways that numbers do not (something historians might want to pick up on, if they want a revived…
Travis Archie
December 9, 2020

The Old South’s Poor Whites

There was a time, before universal white male suffrage and the closing of the frontier, when the poor whites of the South were considered shiftless and without caste. If we were to look at the South as a hierarchical system, it could be argued that the poor whites were a kind of pariah. There’s a common misconception that all whites…
Michael Martin
October 11, 2018

The Sounds of the Mississippi Delta and Appalachia

Because we live in such a hurried time, we hear countless “noises” but have little time to appreciate actual “sounds.” Sound is a sensation that you can feel, not just something you can hear. To understand this idea, consider how some musicians have actually played concerts for the deaf, who cannot hear the music but still feel the vibrations. These…
Michael Martin
August 16, 2018

The Invention of the Appalachian Hillbilly

In our politically correct culture where even the mildest criticism of a societal group can earn someone the label of racist, it remains open season on rural America.  When Barack Obama famously spoke of rural Pennyslvanians in 2008 as "bitter" people who "cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren't like them" and are prone to "anti-immigrant…
Michael Armstrong
October 25, 2017


Stewart, Bruce E. Moonshiners and Prohibitionists: The Battle over Alcohol in Southern Appalachia. Lexington: The University of Kentucky Press, 2011. Interest in southern Appalachian history and culture is growing in the academy. Moonshining is one particular area that is beginning to fascinate both the scholar and history buff. From the popular Discovery Channel show “Moonshiners,” to the growing number of…
Samuel C. Smith
April 30, 2014