In the Appalachian Center for Civic Life, we consider place to be a complex, dynamic process involving three interrelated and equally important components: the natural environment, the built environment, and the human social and cultural history. We are committed to preserving the history of Southwest Virginia and the larger region surrounding Emory & Henry. We are also committed to recognizing the full breadth of that history, including the conflicts and contradictions. Our students are engaged in multiple long term projects to preserve and tell the stories that might otherwise remain unheard, thus offering a fuller, richer understanding of this place.
The Appalachian Oral History Project (AOHP) was begun in 1973 and developed through a consortium involving Emory & Henry College, Appalachian State University, Alice Lloyd College, and Lees Junior College, now known as Hazard County Community College. Over the course of many years, students, faculty, and community members conducted and recorded personal interviews with thousands of citizens across the region. The Appalachian Center for Civic Life has embarked on a project to digitize Emory & Henry’s portion of the oral history collection. We seek to protect the integrity and usability of the interviews in perpetuity through digital preservation and to create a digital collection of the material that is fully accessible, searchable, and made widely available online. The ongoing project has been integrated into the learning objectives of multiple courses within the Civic Innovation major, other courses across the curriculum, and into other community engagement programming overseen by the center.
The Watershed Project is an interdisciplinary digital scholarship project designed to broaden civic memory and increase civic capacity in Southwest Virginia. Building upon knowledge developed through the civic engagement work of Emory & Henry students, scholarly research of faculty, and input from many citizens, The Watershed Project includes a wide range of voices and ideas that help to build a more inclusive civic memory and a more viable future, one rooted in democratic civic practices that improve the quality of life for all persons in Southwest Virginia.
Using photographs, interactive maps, diagrams, recorded oral histories, original documents, and videos to draw on the perspective of many people and many histories, The Watershed Project tells stories of Southwest Virginia. The Watershed Project builds on the understanding that it takes many approaches and many stories to tell the truth of a place and its people. Challenging long-held perceptions and enlarging what we know of our histories, The Watershed Project also tells new stories and offers new possibilities for our future in Southwest Virginia.