UK Special Collections Research Center Makes Available Records of Appalachian Social Justice Organizations

photo of KY mountains

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Jan. 29, 2018) University of Kentucky Libraries Special Collections Research Center (SCRC) successfully completed work on its Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives grant, resulting in online access to the SCRC’s largest group of post-War on Poverty Appalachian primary sources.

“Action in Appalachia: Revealing Public Health, Housing, and Community Development records in the UK Libraries Special Collections Research Center” was a $156,439 grant to fully preserve, organize and make publicly available the records of seven community-driven organizations dedicated to improving quality of life for the Appalachian Region between 1965 and 1990. All inventories generated by the project are available on the University of Kentucky Libraries digital library, ExploreUK.

Collections made available through “Action in Appalachia” include:

Founded after the declaration of the War on Poverty, these organizations sought to meet the needs of a region suffering from increased outmigration, poor sanitation, inadequate medical facilities and increasing school dropout rates. These records document the life cycle of community-driven initiatives that fought poverty in the Appalachian region through improvements in public health, housing, education, economic development and community life.

Between 2008 and 2014, CLIR’s Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives program awarded grants to support the creation of records for unique items of cultural heritage. “Action in Appalachia” was in the last round of grants funded for this initiative. CLIR’s current initiative provides funding for the digitization of hidden collections.

The Bert T. Combs Appalachian Collection at UK Libraries SCRC includes collections of resources from several areas of Appalachian life, culture and history, including materials related to the coal industry; community; education and literacy; the lumber industry; medicine and public health; oil and iron; the railroad industry; regional and economic development; social reform; and the War on Poverty.

The Special Collections Research Center at UK Libraries sustains the Commonwealth’s memory and serves as the essential bridge between past, present and future. By preserving materials documenting the social, cultural, economic and political history of Kentucky, the SCRC provides rich opportunities for students to expand their worldview and enhance their critical thinking skills. SCRC materials are used by scholars worldwide to advance original research and pioneer creative approaches to scholarship. UK Libraries SCRC is the Archives, the Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, the King Library Press, the Wendell H. Ford Public Policy Research Center, the Bert T. Combs Appalachian Collection, the John G. Heyburn Initiative and ExploreUK.

For more information on UK’s CLIR grant, contact Deirdre Scaggs, interim dean of UK Libraries, associate dean of Special Collections Research Center and director of Wendell H. Ford Public Policy Research Center, at or 859-257-3653, or Megan Mummey, collections management archivist, at or 859-257-6942.