Tending the Commons: Folklife and Landscape in Southern West Virginia


Tending the Commons: Folklife and Landscape in Southern West Virginia is based on the American Folklife Center's Coal River Folklife Project, a field project that explored the cultural dimensions of ecological crisis in the coal fields of southern West Virginia from 1992 to 1999. Mary Hufford, the field project director and curator for the online collection, collaborated with the late science writer John Flynn, of Rock Creek, West Virginia, and with photographers Lyntha and Terry Eiler, to create the sound recordings and photographic images comprising the core of the collection. The Coal River Folklife Project was conducted in cooperation with the Lucy Braun Association for the Mixed Mesophytic Forest and Trees for the Planet, with funding from the Lila Wallace Reader's Digest Fund for Folk Culture, and with the support of the Coal River Mountain Watch, based in Whitesville, West Virginia. Support from the National Park Service is gratefully acknowledged for documentation undertaken on the Coal River in 1993 as a part of the American Folklife Center's New River Gorge Folklife Project. Neither the field project nor the online presentation would have been possible without the participation of many individuals who live and work in the Big Coal River Valley.

The online presentation of Tending the Commons was organized and developed by Robin A. Fanslow, project leader and digital conversion specialist, and Thomas Bramel, digital projects coordinator for the American Folklife Center. Laurel McIntyre, digital conversion specialist, performed copyright research and digitized much of the audio, while Christa Maher, digital conversion specialist, worked with the digitized images and the database that undergirds the collection.

Many dedicated professionals on the staff of the Library of Congress' National Digital Library Program worked on Tending the Commons. Andrea Dillon coordinated the Web page design framework and created the special navigational tools on this site. Melissa Front and Christa Maher contributed HTML coding for framework web pages. Mary Ambrosio of Information Technology Services programmed the indexing of the database. Melissa Smith Levine evaluated rights issues and permissions requirements. Jurretta Jordan Heckscher and Emily Lind Baker of the National Digital Library Program's editorial team edited the framing texts. Deborah Thomas coordinated the scanning of the historical maps from the Library's Geography and Map Division. Danna Bell-Russel coordinated publicity for the online collection.

Phil Michel of the Library's Prints and Photographs Division advised and assisted in the preparation of the still photographs for digitization. JJT Inc. scanned the color slides, prints, transparencies, and black-and-white photographs.

James Hardin of the American Folklife Center lent his editorial expertise to the project. Nikesha Herbert provided administrative and clerical support. Preliminary preparation of collection audio materials was performed by interns Theresa Dunn, Virginia Scheer, Kathy Shambaugh, Debra Shutika, Nikki Zeichner, and Library of Congress Junior Fellow Nathan Georgitis. Reference Specialist Charles Bean assisted with the identification of bluegrass and gospel tunes.

Photographer Jenny Hager of Alpine Images, allowed us to reproduce some of her work for this presentation, and Laura Forman of the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, permitted us to use photographs of the 1999 reenactment of the march on Blair Mountain. Woody Boggs, of Pettry Bottom, and Rick Bradford, of Edwight, generously donated photographs, both original and historic. Lowell Dodge, president of the Lucy Braun Association, granted permission to reproduce the report "Patterns of Forest Health: A Report on Citizen Monitoring in the Eastern Mountains 1994-1997." Bob Henry Baber graciously allowed us to reproduce his short satire of the broad form deed. The Sierra Club granted permission to use the illustration of the seasonal round. This illustration was originally created by graphic artist Tom Suzuki, who transformed field sketches made by Ben Burnside, Ricky Meadows, Ivan Jarrell, Tony Dickens, Woody Boggs, Dave Bailey, Howard Miller, Rocky Turner, Elbert Pettry and Mary Hufford into the regional maps and seasonal round graphic used as navigational tools on this site. Joe Aliff, Judy Bonds, Charles Bradford, Vicky Jarrell, J.D. Pettry, Ottie Tyler, and Bob Wills provided assistance in writing captions and notes.

The Web site was updated in October 2005. Thanks are due to John Barton, project manager; Christa Maher, technical support; Barak Stussman, programming; Colleen Byrne Wallace, Web design; and Jurretta Jordan Heckscher and Andrea Matles Savada for editorial support.