ASPI helped document the voices of Appalachian elders through various oral history projects in the 1990s, and we are renewing our commitment to gathering and preserving regional stories, traditions, and knowledge.
Archived Oral History Collections
From the early-to-mid-1990s, ASPI conducted several oral history projects with elders (over 65) about different aspects of Appalachian life, culture, technology, and ecology. Two of these oral history projects are housed and catalogued at the University of Kentucky Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History:
In 2020, we successfully partnered to apply for a Preservation Grant from the Kentucky Oral History Commission to digitize these analog interviews, which are now available online. This collection includes some notable Appalachian folk figures all of whom have now passed, including wood carver and shingle river William McClure, banjo player and performer Dora Mae Wagers, Bluegrass musician and songwriter Frances Reedy, and Minnie Yancey, weaver and spinner of yarns.
Current Oral History Projects
Before long-time residential volunteer Father Jack Kieffer retired in 2020, Board President Timi Reedy conducted five oral history interviews about his life and 28 years working on behalf of ASPI, which will become part of our organizational archives at Berea College.
ASPI received a 2022 Creative Aging and Lifelong Learning grant from the Kentucky Arts Council to conduct a community-engaged interview project with creative elders and artists who exemplify an active commitment to and practice of lifelong learning.
ASPI's current strategic planning process includes designing and implementing additional regional oral history projects as well as providing ethical and technical training for conducting oral history interviews. Look for more updates on these developing projects soon!