• Emory & Henry students help construct a Habitat for Humanity home in Glade Spring, Virginia.
    Emory & Henry students help construct a Habitat for Humanity home in Glade Spring, Virginia.

What do you want out of your college experience?

What are you passionate about? What do you believe? How do you want to live in the world? What does citizenship mean to you?

Joining education with service to this place, to this region, and to the wider world, the Appalachian Center for Civic Life is here to help students answer these questions. You will find a wide range of projects and service opportunities in which to be involved. Our students gain valuable hands-on skills and experience and work to deliver real, tangible outcomes that address a wide range of community needs.


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    Thank you to everyone who has worked on the Freedman’s Bureau project with the Appalachian Center!

    This historical day is really becoming clear to me right now as I’m helping with a project that students have already spent hours on – the Freedman’s Bureau documents. Basically, these are actual ledgers and contracts detailing the transactions of indentured “freed” slaves who were hired to work in counties in this part of VA. Most of these original documents date 1865/1866. They list the name of the slave, age, if they are orphaned, the name of the new “boss,” how much they’ll be paid, how long they’ll be indentured, and what they’ll be doing for work.

    As I read the names, I find myself picturing them as the real people they were and imagining their lives. It’s heart-wrenching to read about 6 year-old orphans being given $10 and “freedom clothes” to serve as a “maid of all work” or $20 as a “farmer” until they’re 18 years old. This is after the Emancipation Proclamation.

    Students have painstakingly transcribed the antiquated script on the documents and now we are proofing them to make sure there aren’t errors. We’re talking pages upon pages of records from 7 different regional counties. Hundreds (maybe thousands) of slaves. Once we’ve finished this, the transcriptions will be collated and organized and then printed and made digital so that they will be accessible at libraries and potentially online. It’s quite an important and fascinating (though emotional) project, and I’m honored to be part of it.

    -Maggie Obermann, Civic Engagement Coordinator
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