Appalachian Travels: The Diary of Olive Dame Campbell
In 1908 and 1909, noted social reformer and “songcatcher” Olive Dame Campbell traveled with her husband, John C. Campbell, through the Southern Highlands region of Appalachia to survey the social and economic conditions in mountain communities. Throughout the journey, Olive kept a detailed diary offering a vivid, entertaining, and personal account of the places the couple visited, the people they met, and the mountain cultures they encountered.
Although John C. Campbell’s book, The Southern Highlander and His Homeland, is cited by nearly every scholar writing about the region, little has been published about the Campbells themselves and their role in the sociological, educational, and cultural history of Appalachia. In this critical edition, Elizabeth McCutchen Williams makes Olive’s diary widely accessible to scholars and students for the first time. Appalachian Travels only offers an invaluable account of mountain society at the turn of the twentieth century.
American folklorist Olive Dame Campbell (1882–1954) was the author or coauthor of numerous books, including English Folk Songs from the Southern Appalachians. In 1925, she founded the John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, North Carolina.
Elizabeth McCutchen Williams is research librarian and assistant professor at Appalachian State University.
"A compelling account of turn-of-the-century Southern Appalachian society and culture based on the first impressions of an outsider who would later become a key interpreter of the region to the world beyond. Appalachian Travels is both an invaluable historical resource and a terrific read." -- John C. Inscoe, author of Race, War, and Remembrance in the Appalachian South
"Olive Campbell was a careful observer of mountain culture. As a result, we can learn a great deal about not only the writer but also the region by reading the journal." -- Theresa Anne Lloyd, associate professor of English at East Tennessee State University and associate editor of The Encyclopedia of Appalachia
"The diaries that Olive Dame Campbell kept of her travels in the
mountains are a gift to us that study Appalachia and fascinating
reading for anyone else. In these her first very personal
observations of the region are detected the beginning of the critical
thought, insightful actions, and devotion that she lavished on the
mountains throughout the rest of her life." -- Philis Alvic, author of Weavers of the Southern Highlands
"Elizabeth Williams’s Appalachian Travels provides insight into not only mountain culture at the turn of the twentieth century, but also the mindset of one of the region’s most influential Progressive reformers: Olive Dame Campbell. Campbell’s journal, kept during a trip that she and her husband made to Appalachia between 1908 and 1909, details the impact that industrialization had on mountain society and how reformers sought to “uplift” the region’s inhabitants. Appalachian Travels is a welcome addition to the growing scholarship on the Progressive movement in Appalachia." -- Bruce Stewart, author of Moonshiners and Prohibitionists: The Battle over Alcohol in Southern Appalachia
"This frank, sometimes startling, often fascinating, diary was penned by Olive Dame Campbell on her first trip, in 1908, through the Southern Appalachian Region. It reveals how she reacted when her New England eyes first spied the Southern Highlands, how her Tufts-educated consciousness assessed the region's missionary educators, and how her sense of propriety was occasionally violated by the local people. She was writing this diary when she first discovered to her utter delight that old ballads from the British Isles were still sung in the Southern Mountains and perhaps when she first became committed to her life's work. Olive Dame Campbell went on to play a central role as an uplifter and chronicler of mountain people and a celebrator of their culture in the first half of the 20th Century." -George Brosi, editor, Appalachian Heritage
"Olive Dame Campbell’s fascinating and entertaining diary contains much of the first-hand evidence gathered for the Campbell’s essential study, The Southern Highlander and His Homeland. It sheds new light on John and Olive Campbell but also on social conditions and daily life in Southern Appalachia, and the educational and religious work of protestant denominations in the area in the early twentieth century. Williams’ enlightening introduction and authoritative annotations greatly enhance the value of this work: a significant addition to Appalachian scholarship." - Fred J. Hay, Anne Belk Distinguished Professor and Librarian of the W.L. Eury Appalachian Collection, Appalachian State University