"God held the torch that brought the old house down": Class, gender, and the built environment of the Appalachian Kentucky social settlement movement, 1880s-1930s

1995 1995

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Abstract (summary)

Beginning in the mid-1880s a number of organizations and individuals from outside Appalachia engaged in remedial, philanthropic, benevolent, or "uplifting" activity designed to integrate the region and its people more fully into the nation without mountain families having to experience what the reformers perceived were the "negative" consequences of rapid industrialization. There has been increasing debate about the ideological underpinnings and long term effect of the Appalachian reform movement. While some accounts are affirming, a number of scholars have begun to question the motivations, methods, and effect of the movement's leaders--many of whom were educated, middle-class women from outside the region. What most of these disparate works have in common is a reliance on the written records of a few leaders and institutions. This bias has often lead to an oversimplification of the role of gender and, in many cases, a virtual dismissal of the experience of Appalachians.

The reformers frequently attempted to "uplift" mountain families by suggesting changes in architectural design, agricultural practices, foodways, housekeeping, and sanitation. While these lessons were often taught in the classroom, one of the most popular tools employed by the reform workers was the construction of "model" landscapes--homes, kitchens, gardens, privies, barns, etc. Tours of the models were offered to mountain families who visited the institutions in hope that they would be compelled to reproduce them in their own homes. Through a folkloristic analysis of the models offered by the reformers as well as the homes of the mountain families who were supposed to be the recipients of their lessons, this study attempts to reveal a more democratic history of the movement, one that includes the experience of a variety of reformers as well as the mountaineer.

Indexing (details)

American studies
0729: Architecture
0358: Folklore
0323: American studies
Identifier / keyword
Communication and the arts; Social sciences; Hindmand Settlement; Pine Mountain Settlement
"God held the torch that brought the old house down": Class, gender, and the built environment of the Appalachian Kentucky social settlement movement, 1880s-1930s
Hudson, Karen Elaine
Number of pages
Publication year
Degree date
School code
DAI-A 56/08, Dissertation Abstracts International
Place of publication
Ann Arbor
Country of publication
United States
George, Robert Blair St.
University of Pennsylvania
University location
United States -- Pennsylvania
Source type
Dissertations & Theses
Document type
Dissertation/thesis number
ProQuest document ID
Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
Document URL
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