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Yesterday's People

Life in Contemporary Appalachia

Jack E. Weller

Publication Year: 2014

The distinctive way of life of the Southern Appalachian people has often been criticized, romanticized or derided, but rarely has it been understood. Yesterday's People, the fruit of many years' labor in the mountains, reveals the fears, anxieties, and hopes that underlie the mountaineers' way of thinking and acting, and thereby shape their relationships in family and community. First published in 1965, this book has been an indispensable guide for all who seek to study, work or live within the Appalachian culture.

Published by: The University Press of Kentucky


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pp. C-C1

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-iv


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pp. v-vi

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Preface, Thirty Years After

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pp. vii-viii

Thirty years ago Yesterday's People spoke to the life of the people in the Appalachian hills and valleys as well as to those interested in them. To my surprise, it became a best seller. Recently, at the request of the University Press of Kentucky, an update was suggested, noting changes in these later days. They...

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An Introductory Note

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pp. ix-xiii

It is a cliche, no doubt, but many a publisher hopes every time he opens his mail to pick up an unsolicited manuscript that actually rings a bell. It happens so seldom that some forget it can happen. When the Reverend Jack Weller, a mountain minister, sent his manuscript in to the University...

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pp. xiv-xviii

The Appalachian mountaineers have been discovered and forgotten many times. They first attracted national attention during the Civil War. Their primitive agriculture disrupted by foragers and incessant guerrilla warfare, thousands of them straggled out of the mountains in search of food and...

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pp. xix-xx

To name one person as the author of a book is, I know now, something less than accurate. At least in the case of this one, many persons have contributed significantly to its appearing. Thus in this brief section I should like to name but a few...

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1. Introduction

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pp. 1-8

It was thirteen years ago that I first came to Southern Appalachia, to a coal-mining area in the mountains of West Virginia. Work as a minister in a parish of the United Presbyterian Church called me there. As time went on and the period required for being accepted in a new community...

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2. The Homeland of the Mountaineer

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pp. 9-27

Early in our nation's life the region we now call Appalachia became a problem: it was a block to settlers moving westward. The long ridges of the old mountains, which run for 1,300 miles from Vermont to northern Alabama, presented a formidable barrier to westward movement. These

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3. Introducing the Mountaineer

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pp. 28-57

American society has loved the caricaturization of the cowboy, and his ways have found entrance into the dreams and play of many an American child. There is something romantic and wholesome about the cowboy. The "western" image has a significant role in American entertainment, business, and even politics and religion. (Note the ten...

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4. The Mountaineer in His Society

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pp. 58-86

The social life as well as the emotional security of the mountain person is centered in the reference group, within which all important activities take place. This central group, which is composed of persons of the same sex and status and of approximately the same age, shapes the mountaineer's...

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5. The Mountaineer and the Community

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pp. 87-101

The middle class traveler, as he journeys through rural Appalachia, is not likely to be favorably impressed with much that he sees. He will observe rows of coal-camp houses with peeling paint; elsewhere, unpainted, weather-stained houses set on blocks or posts (allowing the chickens or house...

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6. The Mountaineer and the Outside World

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pp. 102-120

By "outside world" I mean all the persons, groups, and forces which act in the mountains but are not an indigenous part of mountain society. This outside world includes the educational system, the government on every level except local, the personnel of the railroads and the coal and...

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7. The Mountaineer and the Church

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pp. 121-133

The religious heritage of the Southern Appalachian people has been pictured as leftwing Protestantism/ Its characteristics include puritanical behavior patterns, religious individualism, fundamentalism in attitudes toward the Bible and Christian doctrine, little distinction between clergy and...

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8. The Mountaineer and the Future

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pp. 134-160

Appalachia has been rediscovered—so we began some chapters ago. The people of the mountains, often to their grave dislike, have found themselves the objects of surveys and studies, the subjects of pictures and articles in newspapers and national magazines, the grist for the TV...


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pp. 161-164

E-ISBN-13: 9780813146492
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813101095

Page Count: 184
Publication Year: 2014