Western Carolina University – WCU, UNCA Partnership Leads to New Southern Appalachian Digital Archive

In a collaborative effort, the Hunter Library at Western Carolina University has created an extensive digital collection that will provide greater access to regional records from the southern Appalachians.

The Southern Appalachian Digital Collections was created with the University of North Carolina at Asheville through a grant from the Library Science and Technology Act. The partnership began in 2019 to specifically leverage combined efforts, such as sharing purchasing power for licensing a content management system and increasing staff expertise.

“We hope to expand the collection with other member institutions that reside in southern Appalachia – western North Carolina, northern Georgia, eastern Tennessee, upstate South Carolina, southwestern Virginia – whose mission is to support and preserve the region’s literature, culture, music and historical heritage and contribute collections to be digitized and/or integrated into the shared content management system,” said Beth Thompson, assistant professor and head of content organization and management at the Hunter Library.

“There is an established base of community and academic users who look to us for historical documents and images, as well as ongoing initiatives to better represent our diverse communities,” said Liz Harper, Librarian of Special Collections and digital at WCU. “These resources appeal to scholars, but we hope that anyone interested in knowing what makes our region special can connect on a personal level with our collections. Our interest in finding rich and robust collections also attracts others outside of our state.

The new site features multiple collections, in particular photographic collections of mountain vistas, intimate portraits of families and individuals, insights into the daily lives of locals, and Cherokee crafts and traditions. Plus, oral history collections allow visitors to connect on a personal level, whether listening to interviews with local drag queens or reminiscing about the construction of the Fontana Dam during World War II. world.

To view over 26,000 recordings in 22 collections, visit https://southernappalachiandigitalcollections.org.

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