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Author Elizabeth Williams to speak May 22 at Appalachian

BOONE—When Olive Dame Campbell and her, husband John C. Campbell, traveled to the Appalachian Mountains in 1908, they opened a door into the world of the Southern Highlands region of Appalachia few had ever seen. Many of the couple’s books are modern day staples in the study of mountain communities, and are cited in scholarly writings on the subject. It is, however, the pages in the personal diary of Olive Dame Campbell that Elizabeth Williams brings to life for readers.

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“Appalachian Travels, The Diary of Olive Dame Campbell” published by University Press of Kentucky is a personal account of the people and places that the Campbells encountered on their journey to gather data for the social survey of the Progressive Era. Williams has taken the entries in Olive’s pocket Day Book and created a broader picture of the people and their communities through tedious research. Readers of “Appalachian Travels” will come to know the inhabitants of the Southern Highlands through the eyes of Olive Dame Campbell, as well as through the history these men and women left behind.

Williams, who has been a librarian and associate professor at Appalachian State University for 13 years will speak Thursday, May 22, at 3:30 p.m. in Belk Library and Information Commons Room 421. The presentation is part of the Belk Library and Information Commons Summer Author Series and is free and open to the public. Parking will be available in the parking deck adjacent to the library on College Street.

Williams said that Campbell tells “harrowing stories” in her diary about traveling through the mountains in the winter of 1908-09, but the first-hand account is also filled with vivid, entertaining and enlightening tales that reveal the intimate details of everyday life in the Southern Mountains at the turn of the last century.

While considered a social reformer, Olive Dame Campbell is also well-known for her work as a “songcatcher.” As she traveled through Western North Carolina, Eastern Tennessee and Kentucky, she collected the ballads that mountain folk would sing, and later published these songs and their tunes, which were all but lost in Europe.

Williams’ presentation will be followed by a book signing and reception. For more information, contact Lynn Patterson at 828-262-2087.