The University Press of Kentucky

Kentucky Remembered: An Oral History Series

Published by: The University Press of Kentucky

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Kentucky Remembered: An Oral History Series

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Tobacco Culture

Farming Kentucky's Burley Belt

John van Willigen and Susan C. Eastwood

Whereas most crops drive farmers apart as they compete for the best prices, the price controls on tobacco bring growers together. The result is a culture unlike any other in America, one often forgotten or overlooked as federal and state governments fight over the spoils of the tobacco settlement. Tobacco Culture describes the process of raising a crop of burley from the perspective and experience of the farmers themselves. In the process of gathering information for the book, the authors performed most steps in the tobacco production process, from dropping plants, burning seedbeds, topping, and cutting to stripping and baling the finished product. Van Willigen and Eastwood document both present practices and historical developments in tobacco farming at the very moment a way of life stands poised for dramatic change. In addition to growing practices, the authors found other common threads linking growers and tobacco producing regions. Where tobacco is grown, it often becomes the major cash crop and carries the health of the economy. Farmer Oscar Richardson states, "It's bread and butter. It's the industry of the community, the state as a whole.... You take tobacco out of Kentucky and this farmland wouldn't be worth a nickel." Combining cultural anthropology and oral history, John van Willigen and Susan Eastwood have created a remarkable portrait of the heart of the burley belt in Central Kentucky.

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Voices from the Peace Corps

Fifty Years of Kentucky Volunteers

Angene Wilson and Jack Wilson. foreword by Christopher J. Dodd

President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps on March 1, 1961. In the fifty years since, nearly 200,000 Americans have served in 139 countries, providing technical assistance, promoting a better understanding of American culture, and bringing the world back to the United States. In Voices from the Peace Corps: Fifty Years of Kentucky Volunteers, Angene Wilson and Jack Wilson, who served in Liberia from 1962 to 1964, follow the experiences of volunteers as they make the decision to join, attend training, adjust to living overseas and the job, make friends, and eventually return home to serve in their communities. They also describe how the volunteers made a difference in their host countries and how they became citizens of the world for the rest of their lives. Among many others, the interviewees include a physics teacher who served in Nigeria in 1961, a smallpox vaccinator who arrived in Afghanistan in 1969, a nineteen-year-old Mexican American who worked in an agricultural program in Guatemala in the 1970s, a builder of schools and relationships who served in Gabon from 1989 to 1992, and a retired office administrator who taught business in Ukraine from 2000 to 2002. Voices from the Peace Corps emphasizes the value of practical idealism in building meaningful cultural connections that span the globe.

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