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Olive Dame Campbell is best known as a ballad collector, but she was also a social reformer in Appalachia. Her diary is a the record of a trip that she and her husband, John C. Campbell, made in the early part of the 20th century to gather data for the Russell Sage Foundation about the true social, religious, and economic conditions in the Southern Highlands. Visiting eastern Kentucky, eastern Tennessee, and western North Carolina, they interviewed missionaries, teachers, and settlement school workers, going to out-of-the-way villages and towns on roads that were often nothing more than creek beds. After John Campbell's death in 1919, she continued his work, finishing his book, The Southern Highlander and His Homeland, the first comprehensive history of Appalachia. All the while, she maintained her interest in folk songs, acquired on their fact-finding trip. She studied the educational principles of Scandinavian folk schools and established the John C. Campbell Folk School near Brasstown, North Carolina, to encourage the local population to continue the tradition of creating native crafts and was instrumental in the establishment of the Southern Mountain Handicraft Guild. Olive Dame Campbell's diary of their investigative trip to gather information is an entertaining and enlightening account of the places the Campbells visited and the people they met, revealing captivating details of everyday life in Appalachia at the turn of the century.

Publication Date



The University Press of Kentucky

Place of Publication

Lexington, KY




978-0-8131-3668-4 (pdf version)


978-0-8131-3992-0 (epub version)



Olive Dame Campbell, John Charles Campbell, Women in North Carolina, Folk songs, Ballads, Social life and customs, Appalachian Region, Southern Popular culture, Southern, Southern states, Social conditions, John C. Campbell Folk School, Southern Mountains Handicraft Guild


Appalachian Studies | Cultural History | Demography, Population, and Ecology | United States History


Edited by Elizabeth McCutchen Williams

Appalachian Travels: The Diary of Olive Dame Campbell
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