Border States Home Page Border States: Journal of the Kentucky-Tennessee American Studies Association, No. 10 (1995)


Border States #10 opens with a brief history of the Kentucky-Tennessee American Studies Association written by editorial board member Thomas Blues. Based on extensive research as well as long memories, this essay recounts the activities of the group and effectively captures its character. In light of this history, it is unsurprising that the other articles in this issue fall into subject groups that have long attracted the attention of Kentucky-Tennessee ASA scholars.

Two essays focus on religious leaders. Paul Conkin writes about Presbyterian revivalists on the early frontier, and Margaret Ripley Wolfe chronicles the activities of Roman Catholic priests in the developing Appalachian mining area during the latter part of the nineteenth century. Despite obvious differences in time and creed, shared religious beliefs are shown to be crucial to the establishment of new communities.

Reformers from outside the region receive mixed judgments in the next two essays. Harry Robie deplores the fact that, in their appeals to Northeastern donors, fundraisers for mountain schools tended to characterize Appalachian people from the 1890s through the 1930s as crude folk greatly in need of redemption. Carroll Van West, on the other hand, praises the leaders of the New York-based Commonwealth Fund for seeking local support of its health programs in Rutherford County, Tennessee, in the 1920s and 1930s.

Three essays on writers from the region show that some authors drew strength from strong ties to their communities while others sought escape. Caroline Maun describes Evelyn Scott's self-chosen exile from middle-class Clarksville, Tennessee, in the 1920s and her subsequent struggle to come to terms with her region. Caroline Metzmeier analyzes the vivid depictions that Janice Holt Giles provides for her adopted home, Piney Ridge, a mountain community in Kentucky. While Giles praises this community for its sense of human worth, she faults the people's reluctance to accept new ideas, particularly in medicine. Morris Grubbs explains that Wendell Berry has found in communities of rural Kentucky significant values that are sometimes absent in urban areas. Berry therefore insists that individuals and their particular places of residence are inextricably intertwined.

The public figures treated in this issue are Tennesseans whose collected papers reflect their contributions on the national scene. Tara Mitchell describes the papers of Senator Albert Gore, Sr., housed at Middle Tennessee State University, as they reveal Gore's contributions to national social and political events. Sara Harwell's description of the papers of director Delbert Mann, housed at Vanderbilt University, shows this Nashvillian's impact on the culture of the nation.

Tom Blues writes that "we teach ourselves something interesting about the region in which we live each time we meet." Surely the same may be said about this issue of Border States.

Michael Dunne and Sarah H. Howell, editors

Copyright 1995, 1999, Middle Tennessee State University.
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