The Archives of Appalachia is a keeper of memories. We collect, preserve, and share the written words, sounds, and images of the people of Appalachia. We house nearly 18 million manuscripts, 75,000 sound recordings, and 250,000 still and moving images. The Archives weaves a story that must be told so those outside the region and those raised here can celebrate our Appalachian culture. No child of Appalachia should grow up unaware of the heritage that is his or hers.
The Archives of Appalachia was dedicated in 1978 in conjunction with the opening of the Institute for Appalachian Affairs by East Tennessee State University’s president Arthur H. DeRosier, Jr. Founded on the belief that self-understanding begins with an understanding of one’s region, the Archives was created to promote an awareness of and appreciation for southern Appalachia. Foremost among those persons instrumental in establishing the Archives were professors Thomas Burton and Ambrose Manning. Their oral history archives of Appalachian folklore, manners, and customs formed the core of the Archives’ first holdings.
In 1984, the Archives partnered with the newly established Center for Appalachian Studies and Services to provide a comprehensive resource for the study of Appalachian heritage and culture. The Archives continued to strengthen its collections, adding research materials that documented the full spectrum of the Appalachian experience.
The Archives was fully integrated into the Center in 1998. At that time, the Archives moved to its present location on the 4th floor of the newly constructed Charles C. Sherrod Library. This new facility has allowed the Archives to expand its holdings, extend services to new audiences, and initiate a digital preservation program for sound and image recordings.
Despite the many changes over its thirty-year history, the Archives of Appalachia has remained committed to its original purpose, to illuminate the lives of the people of Appalachia.