Since its recognition as a distinctive region in the late 19th century, Appalachia has been a source of enduring myths and distortions regarding the isolation, temperament and behavior of its inhabitants. Early 20th-century writers focused on sensational aspects, such as moonshining and clan feuding, and often portrayed the region’s inhabitants as uneducated and prone to impulsive acts of violence.The story as depicted in this collection begins in the colonial era, describing the bloody warfare as migrants from Europe and their American-born offspring fought and eventually displaced Appalachia’s Native American inhabitants. It depicts the evolution of a farm- and forest-society, its divided and unhappy fate during the Civil War and the emergence of a new industrial order as railroads, towns and mining industries penetrated into the mountains. Diaries, journals and narratives of explorers, emigrants, military men, Native Americans and travelers are complemented by accounts of the development of farming and mining communities, family histories and folklore.
Guest curated by graduate student Katie Wills
Stories from people who were children during World War II and the objects in this exhibit animate the past and inform us of a time when war took over daily life. “Retrospect is a very interesting thing,” says Ruthie Kallnder. “At the time I don’t recall any of the information we got as being propaganda,” but the government tried to influence children to make “necessary” sacrifices. Propagandists made the war a battle between good and evil, democracy and fascism. They also asked children to share in the war effort. In response, many children took on more responsibilities. Ruthie explains that boys and girls felt “if that’s what it was going to take” to win they “were willing to do it.” The memories of the people in this exhibit and their wartime actions show the power of propaganda’s messages and its lasting affect on their lives. Propaganda posters, children’s books, and classroom assignments demonstrate how propagandists reached children and involved them in the national war effort.
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