Cover image for Appalachian folkways
Appalachian folkways
Rehder, John B.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Baltimore : Johns Hopkins University Press, [2004]

Physical Description:
x, 353 pages : illustrations, maps ; 25 cm.
The real Appalachia -- The shape of Appalachia -- Ethnicity and settlement -- Folk architecture and the cultural landscape -- Ways of making a living -- Foodways -- Folk remedies and belief systems -- Folk music, folk art, and folk festivals -- Folk speech: terms and sayings.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
GR108 .R48 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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Appalachia may be the most mythologized and misunderstood place in America, its way of life and inhabitants both caricatured and celebrated in the mainstream media. Over generations, though, the families living in the mountainous region stretching from West Virginia to northeastern Alabama have forged one of the country's richest and most distinctive cultures, encompassing music, food, architecture, customs, and language.

In Appalachian Folkways , geographer John Rehder offers an engaging and enlightening account of southern Appalachia and its cultural milieu that is at once sweeping and intimate. From architecture and traditional livelihoods to beliefs and art, Rehder, who has spent thirty years studying the region, offers a nuanced depiction of southern Appalachia's social and cultural identity. The book opens with an expert consideration of the southern Appalachian landscape, defined by mountains, rocky soil, thick forests, and plentiful streams. While these features have shaped the inhabitants of the region, Rehder notes, Appalachians have also shaped their environment, and he goes on to explore the human influence on the landscape.

From physical geography, the book moves to settlement patterns, describing the Indian tribes that flourished before European settlement and the successive waves of migration that brought Melungeon, Scotch-Irish, English, and German settlers to the region, along with the cultural contributions each made to what became a distinct Appalachian culture. Next focusing on the folk culture of Appalachia, Rehder details such cultural expressions as architecture and landscape design; traditional and more recent ways of making a living, both legal and illegal; foodstuffs and cooking techniques; folk remedies and belief systems; music, art, and the folk festivals that today attract visitors from around the world; and the region's dialect. With its broad scope and deep research, Appalachian Folkways accurately and evocatively chronicles a way of life that is fast disappearing.

Author Notes

John B. Rehder is a professor of geography at the University of Tennessee.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Cultural geographer Rehder (Univ. of Tennessee) attempts to cover the entire spectrum of southern Appalachian folklife. With this volume utilizing his 36 years of experience doing research in the region, he succeeds admirably. Rehder deals not only with expected categories like music and beliefs, but also with often overlooked matters, such as ways of making a living. The text is enlivened by the inclusion of several anecdotes from Rehder's own fieldwork. The book's greatest contribution is the richly detailed section on folk architecture, filled with numerous photos, taken mostly by the author. The weakest sections are the ones on music and folk speech. One interesting and useful feature is the discussion of various festivals. Thankfully, Rehder doesn't give all venues glowing remarks; instead, he speaks bluntly. The National Storytelling Festival, Jonesborough, Tennessee, is seen as so culturally diverse that it intimidates potential Appalachian participants. Overall, this is an important work that must be read by anyone interested in developing a comprehensive knowledge of southern Appalachia. ^BSumming Up: Highly recommended. All levels/libraries. W. K. McNeil Ozark Folk Center

Table of Contents

Prefacep. ix
1 The Real Appalachiap. 1
2 The Shape of Appalachiap. 33
3 Ethnicity and Settlementp. 53
4 Folk Architecture and the Cultural Landscapep. 72
5 Ways of Making a Livingp. 151
6 Foodwaysp. 205
7 Folk Remedies and Belief Systemsp. 224
8 Folk Music, Folk Art, and Folk Festivalsp. 244
9 Folk Speech: Terms and Sayingsp. 289
Epiloguep. 301
Notesp. 305
Glossaryp. 319
Referencesp. 325
Indexp. 345