Remembering Appalachian Scholar Loyal Jones

Remembering Loyal Jones (1928-2023)


Loyal Jones

The Special Collections Research Center at Appalachian State University remembers Loyal Jones, prolific Appalachian Studies scholar, who passed away October 7th at the age of 95. He was the director of Berea College’s Appalachian Center from 1970 to 1993. The center was renamed the Loyal Jones Appalachian Center in his honor in 2008.

Our Reference & Instruction Archivist remembers when a very unassuming Loyal Jones visited our reading room for research and caused a buzz among all of the Appalachian Studies M.A. students. Not many researchers are able to have that sort of celebrity, and he definitely set an example for those students that even scholars continue to do research in the trenches like the graduate students themselves. We will miss this pillar of the Appalachian Studies community!

Jones had a close relationship with several people at Appalachian State, including Cratis D. Williams, who was instrumental in establishing the Appalachian Studies program and the W.L. Eury Appalachian Collection at Appalachian State University. The Appalachian Collection in the Special Collections Research Center has many letters between the two scholars. They not only discussed their projects and professional activities, but also their health, family members, and the chilly mountain winters. 

Williams wrote a reference letter, dated October 12, 1981, in support Loyal Jones’ application for a summer stipend to study the influence of the Welsh on the Baptist Churches through Appalachia. Williams says,  “[Loyal Jones] has distinguished himself throughout the Appalachian region as a scholar, teacher, field worker, and administrator. He has become one of the front runners in research and scholarship relating to Appalachian religions.” (AC-102, Cratis D. Williams Papers, Box 77, Folder 1, W.L. Eury Appalachian Collection.)

Jones and his contributions are represented in the Appalachian Collection in the Cratis D. Willaims Papers, C. Howard Dorgan Papers, Helen Matthews Lewis Papers, and Patricia Duane Beaver Papers, as well as the University Archives: 

Additionally, the W.L. Eury Appalchian Collection contains most, if not all, of the books that Jones authored, compiled, contributed to, or edited. These can be explored in the University Libraries catalog. The titles showcase the diversity of Jones’s expertise and research interests in his five decades worth of scholarship.

Our collection records show that Loyal Jones sometimes sent items for our collections, as evidenced by the letter below to Dr. Fred Hay, then-Librarian for the W.L. Eury Appalachian Collection.  This book is signed and was added to the Appalachian Collection's rare books.

Loyal Jones letter to Fred Hay

Letter from Loyal Jones to Fred Hay, former librarian of the W.L. Eury Appalachian Collection and Anne Belk Distinguished Professor and Professor of Appalachian Studies, dated November 3, 2017

In 1999 Appalachian State graduate students Lori Briscoe, Erica S. Collins, Amanda Deal, Ron Hancock, and Kristyn McGraw interviewed Jones for the Appalachian Journal, about his life story, the origins of his first name, defining "Appalachian culture," his favorite joke, and his greatest contribution. The interview was published in summer 2000.

Cratis D. Williams and Loyal Jones

Loyal Jones (left), Cratis D. Williams (middle), and Willis D. Weatherford (right) at Berea College's 1977 commencement when Williams was awarded an honorary doctorate. Briscoe, Lori, et al. “Interview with Loyal Jones.”  Appalachian Journal, vol. 27, no. 4, 2000, pp. 378–403.

More information about Loyal Jones and his contributions to Appalachian Studies is available on the Loyal Jones Appalachian Center website. Contact or 828.262.4041 for more information about books by Jones or materials in the Special Collections Research Center pertaining to Jones.

-- Contributed by Veronica Wells, Adjunct Assistant Professor and Greta Browning, Interim Curator for Distinctive Collections, Reference and Instruction Archivist & Curator, Rhinehart Collection

Loyal Jones
Published: Oct 18, 2023 2:44pm