Weaving centers led the Appalachian Craft Revival at the beginning of the twentieth century. Soon after settlement workers came to the mountains to start schools, they expanded their focus by promoting weaving as a way for women to help their family's financial situation. Women wove thousands of guest towels, baby blankets, and place mats that found a ready market in the women's network of religious denominations, arts organizations, and civic clubs.
In Weavers of the Southern Highlands, Philis Alvic details how the Fireside Industries of Berea College in Kentucky began with women weaving to supply their children's school expenses and later developed student labor programs, where hundreds of students covered their tuition by weaving. Arrowcraft, associated with Pi Beta Phi School at Gatlinburg, Tennessee, and the Penland Weavers and Potters, begun at the Appalachian School at Penland, North Carolina, followed the Berea model. Women wove at home with patterns and materials supplied by the center, returning their finished products to the coordinating organization to be marketed. Dozens of similar weaving centers dotted mountain ridges.
"Describes, defends, and celebrates the schools and workshops that made the towels, place mats, coverlets, and baby blankets that decorated middle-class homes from the 1900s through the 1940s." -- Journal of Southern History
"Alvic has provided a well-documented and comprehensive history of the Appalachian Craft Revival that began in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and continues to the present." -- Shuttle, Spindle & Dyepot
"Recovers a lost history of Appalachian weavers. Alvic shows how the development of weaving centers and the revival of weaving became the foundation of the craft revival movement in the region." -- Helen Matthews Lewis
"Alvic knows more about the revival of weaving in Southern Appalachia during the missionary era, as well as about the art of weaving, about looms, patterns, dyes, yarns, and the marketing of handwoven fabrics, than anyone I know. She has written a literate, informative, thoroughly researched book about the history of this movement." -- Loyal Jones, former director of the Appalachian Center at Berea College
"A cornucopia of information about weaving, the crafts revival, benevolent work, and gender in Appalachia.... Scholars in Appalachian studies, women's studies, and folklore, along with weavers and other crafts persons will find this book's arsenal of data indispensable." -- Appalachian Journal
"The first book to present the institutional history of weaving in Appalachia.... In addition to contributing an important historical resource, there are other reasons to recommend Weavers of the Southern Highlands. It is meticulously researched and well illustrated with one hundred period photographs. There are also maps, notes, and a comprehensive bibliography." -- Journal of Appalachian Studies
"Alvic offers a detailed and in-depth look at the art, craft, history, and business of weaving traditions throughout the region." -- Goldenseal