Arkansas’s rich folk tradition is shown by the variety of its manifestations: a 250-year-old ballad, an archaic method of hewing railroad crossties with a broadax, the use of poultices and toddies to treat the common cold, and swamps of evil repute are all parts of the tradition that constitutes Arkansas folklore. In fact, as the essays selected by W.K. McNeil and William M. Clements show, these few examples only begin to tell the story.
Starting with a working description of folklore as “cultural material that is traditional and unofficial” and characterized by a pattern of oral transmission, variation, formulaic structures, and usually uncertain origin, the authors survey in detail a wide array of folk objects, activities, beliefs, and customs. Among the rich offerings in this sourcebook are a discussion of the history of folklore research in Arkansas, an examination of some of the traditional songs and music still being preformed, a thoughtful exploration of the serious side of “tall tales” and “windies,” an investigation of folk architecture in Arkansas and what it reveals about our cultural origins, a study of many traditional foods and there preparation methods, an analysis of superstitions and beliefs, and a description of festivals and celebrations that are observed to this day.
Complemented by biographies of reference works and audio and video recordings of the state’s folk materials, An Arkansas Folklore Sourcebook is the first complete guide to the study of one state’s “unofficial culture.”
Appalachians have always honored craft. Showoff quilts, complicated whittlings, "face jugs," intricate woven coverlets, and the work of famous basketmakers constituted the art of early Appalachia, the life and color of its remote mountain households. By the 1920s, however, the craft tradition was quickly vanishing. This lively, highly personal book recounts the "missionary" effort that preserved the traditional Appalachian craft culture and traces the organization, politics, and economics of later handcraft revival organizations in Southern Appalachia.
Deeply involved in many of the events he describes, Garry Barker has worked in the Appalachian crafts world since the early 1960s. He draws on memories of the leading craftspeople of a bygone era, LBJ's War on Poverty, mushrooming markets for craft products, and the rise of academic crafts training. The Handcraft Revival in Southern Appalachia represents the thoughtful winnowing of Barker's decades of serendipitous experience and disciplined observation, casual conversation and formal interviews, research and collecting, teaching and writing.
The book is the only history of the Appalachian craft movement between 1930 and 1990. As such it will become an essential resource for craftspeople, scholars, and all interested in the Southern Appalachian region. In addition, it constitutes a crucial chapter in the newly emerging history of American craft.
It’s the 1960s. The Vietnam War is raging and protests are erupting across the United States. In many quarters, young people are dropping out of society, leaving their urban homes behind in an attempt to find a safe place to live on their own terms, to grow their own food, and to avoid a war they passionately decry. During this time, West Virginia becomes a haven for thousands of these homesteaders—or back-to-the-landers, as they are termed by some. Others call them hippies.
When the going got rough, many left. But a significant number remain to this day. Some were artisans when they arrived, while others adopted a craft that provided them with the cash necessary to survive. Hippie Homesteaders tells the story of this movement from the viewpoint of forty artisans and musicians who came to the state, lived on the land, and created successful careers with their craft. There’s the couple that made baskets coveted by the Smithsonian Institution’s Renwick Gallery. There’s the draft-dodger that fled to Canada and then became a premier furniture maker. There’s the Boston-born VISTA worker who started a quilting cooperative. And, there’s the immigrant Chinese potter who lived on a commune.
Along with these stories, Hippie Homesteaders examines the serendipitous timing of this influx and the community and economic support these crafters received from residents and state agencies in West Virginia. Without these young transplants, it’s possible there would be no Tamarack: The Best of West Virginia, the first statewide collection of fine arts and handcrafts in the nation, and no Mountain Stage, the weekly live musical program broadcast worldwide on National Public Radio since 1983. Forget what you know about West Virginia.
Hippie Homesteaders isn’t about coal or hillbillies or moonshine or poverty. It is the story of why West Virginia was—and still is—a kind of heaven to so many.
The story of humanity’s earliest days on earth has come down to us chiefly in the tools and weapons early hominids shaped from flint. With these tools, they gained ascendancy over less dexterous beasts and began the slow conquest of their environment. Other records, including their very bones, have largely rotted away, but their tools of flint endure.
H. Mewhinney presents A Manual for Neanderthals as “a common-sense, down-to-earth study of how flint tools and weapons were made—or for that matter, can still be made by any descendant of Stone Age man.”
The author first sets the scene with a delightful and informative disquisition on flintflaking and flint-flakers, and then explains clearly and concisely how he and earlier Neanderthals have made flint artifacts, illustrating each step with drawings and photographs.
Archeologists and anthropologists will discover in this book a modest but genuine contribution to their fields, while collectors of Indian relics and people who like to tinker with tools and master unusual skills will find it a surprisingly practical guide to an interesting and ancient art. With patience, and with A Manual for Neanderthals at your side, you too can learn to flake flint.