After the bright spotlight of an ABC News special - and the attention that followed - Eastern Kentucky is starting to tell its own story online thanks to the efforts of a Lexington attorney that came from the region.
Storytelling is central to Appalachian cultural – and now, with the advent of the internet, mountain tales that have been passed down by word of mouth through the generations can be preserved and shared on a much greater scale. The new website, AppalacianFolk.com, is an archive of true stories, fiction, folktales, poetry, art, recipes, and pictures from those who have lived in Appalachia or who have Appalachian ancestry.
AppalachianFolk.com is the project of Christy H. Sweeney, a daughter and granddaughter of coal miners who was raised in Fort Gay, West Virginia and Louisa, Kentucky. Now a practicing attorney in Lexington, Kentucky, Sweeney hopes that the Appalachian stories collected on the website will help others who share similar pasts learn and connect.
has a culture unlike anywhere else in the country – a culture that includes an unmatched oral tradition rich with folk lore, old wives tales, and parables,” Sweeney said. “This website mixes new technology with old traditions. The stories can now be heard across the world, while comments sections allow people to share, add, and converse like they might around the dinner table.”
Anyone may submit their stories and photographs to AppalachianFolk.com, while registered users may also comment on the stories they read in addition to posting their own. Archive categories include coal mining stories, migration stories, mountain recipes, farming stories, ghost stories, short stories, poems, religious stories, and other mountain living stories.
Among the stories already posted, one writer recalls a mining accident that killed 11 workers, including two relatives, while another writer shares a fictional story that takes place in a 1920s Hungarian community nestled in the Kentucky Mountains. In another tale, the son of an Eastern Kentucky coal miner remembers the joys and the hardships of growing up on a meager income.
“I hope that as the archive grows, the Appalachia stories and memories people share will reveal both diversity and a wide array of common themes,” Sweeney said. “Already, the collection reflects some of the universally important aspects of Appalachia life as I knew it growing up: a distinctive mix of family, tradition, food, music, tall tales, close knit towns, and mountain adventures.”
To begin discovering Appalachia – or to share your own stories and experiences from the region please visit http://www.appalachianfolk.com.