From the Vault

Collections and Research

Written by appalarchive

Six major collections form the core of the Appalshop Archive. They include over 1,800,000 feet of 16mm, super 8 and 8mm film, 4,000 hours of video (1/2″ open reel, 3/4″ Umatic, Beta, Hi8, MiniDV and DVCAM), 2,000 hours of audio on reel to reel tapes (1/4″ and 1/2″), 500 hours of audio on DAT, over 2,000 audiocassettes, and approximately 4,000 photographic negatives.


The Appalshop Films and Headwaters Television collections consist of 16mm color and black-and-white footage, 1/2″ black and white open reel, 3/4″ Umatic and BetacamSP color videotapes. The material covers all aspects of life in Central Appalachia, including coal mining, subsistence farming, craftspeople, labor strikes, musicians, storytellers, religious practices, out-migration, politics, environmental activism, and Appalachian literature. The collection contains significant footage of historically and culturally important personages and key regional scholars, and a wealth of extensive oral histories of ordinary people. The collections also include paper records and ephemera related to the productions.

The June Appal Recordings collection includes the master tapes of over 70 releases of traditional and contemporary mountain music from 1973 to thseedtime_kidwcorne present, as well as archival audiotapes of over a hundred regional artists. Artists in the Collection include many of national prominence, such as folk singer Jean Ritchie and author James Still, and a number of winners of the National Heritage Award, such as Wade & Julia Mainer and Hazel Dickens.

The WMMT-FM collection documents the work of Appalachia’s only community-based public radio station, including approximately 15 years of interviews, tapes of news events, public forums, musical performances, and “air checks” of programming created by over two hundred community volunteers since 1985. Also included are tapes of award-winning nationally distributed productions on traditional music, regional economic and social issues, and women writers of Appalachia.

The William R. “Pictpmcd0325ureman” Mullins Collection, 1935-1955 consists of 3,600 cellulose acetate safety negatives. The photographer, William R. Mullins, ran a studio in Letcher County, Kentucky, between 1935 and 1955, and documented hundreds of people, in portraits and in such activities as baptisms, funerals, and holidays.

The Appalachian Media Institute collection is comprised of the youth video work produced since 1989 by high school students in the region who learn media skills and produce documentaries about their communities. The program was recognized in 1999 with the Coming Up Taller Award from the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities.

Smaller Collections include Mountain Community Television, consisting of 1/2″ reel-to-reel video tapes from a cable-access facility in Norton, Virginia, including cultural and public-issue pieces, and Harry and Ann Caudill, consisting of 16mm film prints and audiotapes relating to 1960s strip mining and poverty, as well as interviews and stories told by the Appalachian author whose book Night Comes to the Cumberlands is credited with bringing the region to national attention in the early 1960s. The Roadside Theater collection contains many hours of video and audio tape, scripts, critical writing, and ephemera pertaining to the artistic output and history of Appalshop’s community theater division.

For information on access to the collections, please visit the About Us page.

1) Cover of literary magazine Mountain Review.
2) Detail from letterhead for The Community Film Workshop of Appalachia, the first incarnation of Appalshop. October 1971
3) Poster for Appalshop’s annual Seedtime on the Cumberland Festival. c.1987
4) The Hollyfield family of Jenkins, KY, from the William R. “Pictureman” Mullins Collection, 1935-1955.

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