Cultural History of Crop Production on Appalachian Farms


At the most fundamental level a society’s foundation rests on its producers, its farmers. In Appalachia the farmer has been the economic and cultural backbone of the region. From the time of the earliest settlements communities were united by a common struggle to provide food and shelter for their families. These communities, though not completely isolated, were geographically separated from mainstream America and often each other. Thus, they needed to cultivate a variety of crops and livestock to provide for their needs.

The subsistence first farms of Appalachia are slowly disappearing as enormous moncultures have come into vogue over recent decades. The effect this dramatic change is having on the communities of Appalachia has yet to be fully determined. The Appalachian family is proving very adaptable, and so are the crops they raise and the reasons for why they are raising them.

Introductory Text: 

Stokely, Jim. “Agriculture”. An Encyclopedia of East Tennessee . Jim Stokely and Jeff Johnson. Oak Ridge, TN: Children’s Museum of Oak Ridge, 1981. Pgs. 3-7. ASU APP COLL F442.1 E53

Fisher, Steve and Mary Harnish. Losing a Bit of Ourselves: The Decline of the Small Farmer. Emory, VA: Emory and Henry College, 1980. Note: prepared for deliverance at the 1980 Annual Appalachian Studies Conference at ETSU, March 21-23, 1980. ASU APP COLL HD1476.U3F5

Library of Congress Subject Headings: 

Highly Relevant :

  • Agriculture-Appalachian Mountains
  • Agriculture-Appalachian Region
  • Agriculture-Appalachian Region, Southern
  • Agriculture-Appalachian Region, Bibliography
  • Agriculture-Appalachian Region, Economic Aspects
  • Agriculture-Appalachian Region, History
  • Agriculture-Appalachian Region, History
  • Agriculture-North Carolina-Statistics
  • Agriculture-Tennessee-Statistics
  • Agriculture-Kentucky-Statistics
  • Agriculture-Virginia-Statistics
  • Agriculture-West Virginia-Statistics
  • Agriculture-Alabama-Statistics
  • Agriculture-Georgia-Statistics

More General :

  • Crop Diversification
  • Hill Farming
  • Farm Produce
  • North Carolina. Crop Reporting Service
  • North Carolina Department of Agriculture

Related :

  • Sustainable Agriculture
  • Livestock Diversification
  • United States. Department of Agriculture
Clipping Files Subject Headings – W. L. Eury Appalachian Collection: 
  • Agriculture
  • Farm
Library of Congress Call Numbers: 
  • F450
  • HC 107
  • HD 1775
  • HD 1476
  • PN 1083
  • S 273
  • S 451
  • SB 171

Coltrane, R. I. and E.L. Baum. An Economic Survey of the Appalachian Region, with Special Reference to Agriculture: Agricultural Economics Report No. 69. Washington, Economic Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1965. ASU APP COLL S507.C46

Ford, Thomas R. The Southern Appalachian Region: A Survey. Lexington: University of Kentucky Press, 1967. ASU APP COLL HC 107.K4 S 58 1967.

Gray, L. C., et al. Economies and Social Problems and Conditions of the Southern Appalachians. Washington, D.C.: USDA, 1935. Pgs. 41-72, 89-94, 120, 154 ASU APP COLL HC107.A13 A73

Smith, Russel J. Farming Appalachia. Reprinted from American Monthly Review of Reviews, vol. 53, 1916. ASU APP COLL S451.A137 S 56 (lost)

Young, Harold N. The Virginia Agriculture Experiment Station, 1886-1966. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1975. ASU APP COLL S543.V56 Y68. pp. 83 and following.

Guides, Encyclopedias, and Dictionaries: 

Abramson, Rudy and Jean Haskell, ed. The Encyclopedia of Appalachia. Knoxville, TN: University of Tennessee Press, 2006. pgs. 395-439. APP COLL F106. E53 2006

Hilliard, Sam Bowers. Atlas of Antebellum Southern Agriculture. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1984. ASU APP COLL OVERSIZE G1281.JI H5 1984

Hipple, F. Steb & Paul E. Lovingood Jr., and Robert E. Reiman. Emerging Patterns in the Southern Highlands: A Reference Atlas, vol. 2. Boone: Appalachian Consortium, 1985. ASU APP COLL OVERSIZE HA218.L68 1985


Williams, Gregory. Agrisilviculture For Appalachia. Appalachian Regional Office, International Tree Crops Institute U.S.A. Inc. 1979. App Coll Z5074.T85 W5 1979.

Graves, Glenn Horne, ed. A Selected Bibliography on Agriculture and Modernization Relating to the Appalachian South. Lexington: University Kentucky Press,1988. ASU APP COLL Z5075.U6A6 1988b.n

Abstracts and Indices: 

Agricola. Online Database. Abstracts of articles on the history of agriculture and crop production in Appalachia. ASU Online Catalog.

America: History and Life. Abstracts of articles on the history of agriculture and crop production in Appalachia. ASU Online Catalog.


Agricultural History. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. Quarterly. Microfilm: v.1, 1927-v.38, 1964. 1965 to present ASU MAIN.

Appalachian Journal. Boone, NC: ASU V. 1 1972-present. [Indexes 7, 18, &27] APP COLL F216.2.A66

Journal of Appalachian Studies. Morganton, WV: West Virginia University for the Appalachian Studies Association. Quarterly. 1995 - present. Bound issues APP COLL F106.J74. More recent issues are in the periodical section of the APP COLL

Journal of Agrarian Change. London, UK: University of London. Quarterly. January 2001 - present. accessed through the Blackwell Synergy database.
Mountain Life and Work. Berea, KY: Berea College. Quarterly. 1925 - 1988. Microfilm: v.1, 1925-v.52, 1976. Bound: v.1-17; v.20-42; v.44-64, 1988. Bound issues APP COLL GR103.M5.


Agricultural census statistics dating back to 1944:

Agricultural Statistics for North Carolina:

National Agricultural Statistics Service:

Site with information on experiments in Agriculture in Appalachia:

Audio and Video Sources: 

Mountain Farmer. 1973. Appalshop video. Director Frances Morton. ASU APP COLL VC 144

Other Sources: 

Green, Linda L., ed. Kentucky 1860 Agricultural Census. Bowie, MD: Willow Bend Books, 2003. ASU APP COLL F450.G785 2003

Slocum, Warren Douglas. Farm Depopulation and it’s Association with Changes in the Components of Agricultural Systems and Resources; A Geographic Study of the Northern Appalachia in the 20th Century. Michigan State University. 1976 App Coll MicF 349.

Swansen, Mark A. No Substitute for Tobacco: The Search for Farm Diversity in Appalachian Kentucky. Gainesville, University of Florida, 2001. ASU APP COLL SB 273.S94 2001.

North Carolina Agricultural Census 1850 (microfilm). ASU APP COLL.

North Carolina Agricultural Census 1860 (microfilm). ASU APP COLL.

North Carolina Agricultural Census 1870 (microfilm). ASU APP COLL.

North Carolina Agricultural Census 1880 (microfilm). ASU APP COLL.

Compiled by: 

Compiler: Billy Ward II, 30 November 2006