We post a new episode of Appalachian History weekly podcast every Sunday. You can start listening right away by clicking the podcast icon over on the right side of your screen. If you’d rather grab the show off itunes for later listening, click here:
We open today’s show with a look at feedsack fashion, which took off in the mid-1920s. Oh, thrifty farm wives nationwide had known for years that this common cotton bag— fondly nicknamed chicken linen, ‘pretties,’ or hen house linen—was a great source of utilitarian fabric for dish cloths, diapers, nightgowns, curtains, pillowcases and more. But in the 2nd quarter of the 20th century manufacturers came up with a fresh way to turn this fact to their additional advantage. Plain sacks were a commodity, but by offering sacks in various prints and solid colors manufacturers could differentiate themselves from the competition.
We’ll pause in between things to catch up on a Calendar of Events in the region this week, with special attention paid to events that emphasize heritage and local color.
Mary Harris Jones (1837-1930), better known as Mother Jones, was an American labor organizer and one of the founders of the Social Democratic party and the Industrial Workers of the World . Her August 1912 speech to striking coal miners in Charleston, WV was one in a series of organized activities which were blamed for violence in the state’s coal fields, and led to her conviction of conspiracy to commit murder, which was later commuted. Here’s an excerpt from the last portion of the speech.
Before the days of T.V.A. and large power companies, electricity was supplied to rural areas by such imaginative and pioneering men as Arthur Abernathy Miller. In 1925, Miller, a brilliant self-educated electrical engineer, built the first hydroelectric dam in north Alabama — the DeSoto dam in Ft Payne.
In the summer of 1945, one white executive quietly, secretly, plotted an assault on baseball’s systematic practice of racial discrimination. He knew that baseball was robbing itself of a goldmine of talent when it indulged itself in the evil luxury of racial prejudice. And, being the game’s reigning genius, he knew how to right the wrong: he knew what steps to take and he knew how to dodge the lethal slugs. This man’s name was Branch Rickey. He was the president and general manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers, a storied, old National League ball club. A dramatic race incident from his young manhood in southeast Ohio put him directly on the road that lead to his hiring Jackie Robinson for the Dodgers.
We’ll wrap things up with a consideration of the motives of a collector. Edna Lynn Simms’ original photo caption accompanying her portrait of him reads simply: “George D. Barnes, collector of Indian relics, Dayton, Tenn.” Sounds straightforward enough. But it leaves out the shadings about what KIND of collector — how the man was viewed ethically in the world of archaeologists, collectors, museums, and relic hunters. Collectors of all eras often skirt the edges of the legitimate in their single-minded pursuit of building their collections. Barnes had his admirers, and he had his detractors.
And, thanks to the good folks at the Digital Library of Appalachia, we’ll be able to enjoy some authentic Appalachian music from Clarke Buehling in a 2001 recording of the mid-19th century tune Glendy Burke.
So, call your old Plott hound up on the porch, fire up your corn-cob pipe, and settle in for a dose of Appalachian History.