An Oral History Of The American Chestnut In Southern Appalachia
Faculty Chair: Dr. Hill Craddock
The American Chestnut Oral History Collection explored and examined the experiences and memories of people who lived in the Southern Appalachian region. The project examined experiences from an environmental history perspective, addressing the economic and cultural significance of chestnut pre and post blight, and attitudes and feelings concerning American chestnut restoration efforts. The Collection includes forty-five interviews, recorded between May and December 2008. Twenty-seven of them were recorded with people who have first-hand memories of the importance of American chestnut in southern Appalachia. These interviews were conducted across Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, and Virginia. These twenty-seven recordings represent thirty-three interviewees who range in age from 60 to 94 years old. An additional eighteen recordings were made at The American Chestnut Foundation’s 25th Anniversary Meeting in October 2008, representing nineteen Foundation members. All recordings were transcribed. The stories of fifty-two people are archived in the present Collection. These recorded accounts articulate the importance of American chestnut to the people in Southern Appalachia. These documented thoughts on restoration also lend insight into why individuals undertake efforts of this magnitude. Many TACF members, who are active in the restoration of American chestnut, first encountered the American chestnut through a shared story or experience with a parent or grandparent. It is my hope that these recordings will be useful in educating and connecting younger generations with the American chestnut and the restoration effort.