Historical Appalachian Out-Migration


Most texts on Appalachian out-migration focus on the “Great Migration” of millions who left the region between 1940 and 1960, but some also consider the earlier period of the late 1800s to the early 1900s. The majority of these texts emphasize white migration, looking at the experience of some Appalachian migrants in midwestern cities. In particular, Cincinnati, Ohio has been studied extensively due to its high population of Appalachian migrants and the activism of Appalachians in the city. If we broaden the traditional understanding of Appalachian migration as “white migration” to include other major population shifts and racial/ethnic groups, we also need to include the forced removal of the Cherokee in the 1830s. Additionally, while specific research on African-American migration and gender specific studies are scarce, this pathfinder will include texts that focus on these topics. The two major periods of African-American migration from the South (including central and southern Appalachia) occurred from 1865-1900 and from 1916-1925. When Appalachian migration studies do address African-Americans, they tend to use the period of major white migration as the only framework. For this reason, this pathfinder includes general discussions of African-American migration from the South, even if they do not focus strictly on Appalachia.

Introductory Text: 

Obermiller, Phillip J., Thomas Wagner, and E. Bruce Tucker, eds. Appalachian Odyssey: Historical Perspectives on the Great Migration . Westport and London: Praeger Publishers, 2000: xi-xv and 3-20. ASU APP COLL STACK: F217.A65 A658 2000.

Perdue, Theda, and Michael D. Green. “The Trail of Tears.” The Cherokee Removal: A Brief History with Documents . Boston and New York: Bedford Books, 1995. 160-173. ASU APP COLL STACK: E99.C5.C6522 1995.

Trotter, Joe William Jr. “Introduction to Black Migration in Historical Perspective.” The Great Migration in Historical Perspective . Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1991. 1-21. ASU MAIN STACKS: E185.86 .G65 1991.

Library of Congress Subject Headings: 

Highly Relevant :

  • Rural-urban Migration (subdivide geographically)
  • Rural-urban Migration - - Appalachian Region
  • Rural-urban Migration - - United States - - History - - 20th century
  • Trail of Tears, 1838 Migration, Internal - - Appalachian Region
  • African-Americans - - Migrations

Also Relevant :

  • Appalachians (People) - - Migrations
  • Cincinnati (Ohio) - - Social conditions

More General :

  • Appalachian Region - - Economic Conditions
  • Appalachians (People) - - (subdivide geographically)
  • Appalachian Region - - Social conditions
  • Cherokee Indians
  • Migration, Internal - - United States
  • Women - - Appalachian Region
  • Coal miners - - Appalachian Region

Related :

  • Appalachian Region, Southern - - Biography
  • Appalachians (People) - - Biography
  • Rural families - - Appalachian Region, Southern
  • Urban Appalachian Council
  • Urban poor - - Services for - - Ohio - - Cincinnati
Clipping Files Subject Headings – W. L. Eury Appalachian Collection: 
  • Migration
Library of Congress Call Numbers: 
  • HV4028
  • HN79
  • HD5855
  • F217.A65
  • Z7164.D3
  • F499.C59
  • HT361
  • E185.6
  • E185.86
  • E99.C5
  • HQ1438.A13
  • RA395
  • HV4046.C

Anderson, William L. ed. Cherokee Removal: Before and After . Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1991. ASU APP COLL STACK: E99.C5 C6523 1991.

Berry, Chad. Southern Migrants, Northern Exiles . Urbana. University of Illinois Press, 2000. ASU APP CALL STACK: HB1971.A3 B47 2000.

Borman, Kathryn M. and Phillip J. Obermiller. From Mountain to Metropolis: Appalachian Migrants in American Cities . Westport, CT: Bergin & Garvey, 1994. ASU APP COLL STACK: F217.A65 F76 1994.

Ehle, John. Trail of Tears: The Rise and Fall of the Cherokee Nation . New York: Doubleday, 1998. ASU APP COLL STACK: E99.C5 E45 1988.

Gottlieb, Peter. Making Their Own Way: Southern Blacks’ Migration to Pittsburgh, 1916-30 . Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1987. ASU MAIN STACKS F159.O69 N44 1987.

Obermiller, Phillip J., Thomas E. Wagner, and E. Bruce Tucker. Appalachian Odyssey: Historical Perspectives on the Great Migration . Westport, CT: Praeger, 2000. ASU APP COLL STACK: F217.A65 A658 2000.

Trotter, Joe William Jr. “Introduction to Black Migration in Historical Perspective.” The Great Migration in Historical Perspective . Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1991. 1-21. ASU MAIN STACKS: E185.86 .G65 1991.

Wolcott, Victoria W. Remaking Respectability: African-American Women in Interwar Detroit . Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2001. ASU MAIN STACKS: F574.D49 N488 2001.

Guides, Encyclopedias, and Dictionaries: 

Billings, Dwight and David Walls. “Appalachians: Migration and Resettlement.” Stephan Thernstrom, Ann Orlov, and Oscar Handlin, eds. Harvard Encyclopedia of American Ethnic Groups . Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press, 2980. 126-127. ASU REFERENCE: E184.A1 H35.

Grossman, James. “Migration, Black.” Charles Reagan Wilson, and William Ferris, eds. Encyclopedia of Southern Culture . Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1989. 176-177. ASU REFERENCE: F209.E53 1989.

Hawkins, Homer C. “Negro Migration.” David C. Roller, and Robert W. Twyman, eds. The Encyclopedia of Southern History . Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1979. 890-892. ASU REFERENCE: F207.7.E52.

Roseman, Curtis C. “Migration Patterns.” Encyclopedia of Southern Culture . 551-552.


Roark, Stephanie. “Migration from Appalachia: Central Appalachians in Midwestern Cities,” 10/21/1997.

“Bibliography-Black Migration.” Goin’ to Chicago: A Documentary Film from George King & Associates . Public Broadcasting Service. <http://www.pbs.org/gointochicago/resources/biblio2.html>.

Bibliography of Native North Americans . ASU WEB ACCESS. See Abstracts and Indices section for description.

“Ethnicity and Race, African-Americans, Immigrants, Native Americans.” West Virginia University Libraries: Appalachian Studies Bibliography 1994-2002 .

Fogelson, Raymond D. The Cherokees: A Critical Bibliography . Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1978. ASU APP COLL STACKS: Z1210.C46 F64.

“Migration, Population, Urban Appalachians.” West Virginia University Libraries: Appalachian Studies Bibliography 1994-2002 .

Obermiller, Phillip J. “Selected Readings on Appalachian Migration and Urban Appalachians.” Urban Appalachian Council.

Panther-Yates, Donald. “Bibliography of Cherokee General Studies.” Georgia Southern University Donald Panther-Yates faculty web page.

“Research Resources on Chicago and the Great Migration.” C hicago, Jazz, and the Great Migration . University of Chicago Joseph Regenstein Library.

Strickland, Arvarh, and Robert E. Weems, Jr., eds. The African American Experience: An Historiographical and Bibliographical Guide . Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2001. ASU MAIN STACKS: E184.65 .A37 2001.

Abstracts and Indices: 

America: History and Life includes many related book review, journal articles, dissertations, and collections relating to American history. Searches for Appalachia and migration (or migrants), Cherokee and removal or Trail of Tears, and African-American and migration yielded many results of publications from 1964 to the present. Note: search using asterisks for more results (ex. Appalachia*). This database indexes many relevant titles including: Appalachian Journal , Appalachia , Journal of Black Studies , Rural Sociology , Journal of Cherokee Studies , and Now and Then .

Bibliography of Native North Americans includes many entries about Cherokee (and other Native American) removal or the Trail of Tears. This database cites materials published from the sixteenth century to the present. This database, along with America: History and Life , would be the best bet for researching the forced migration of Native Americans.

MLA includes links to many books about Appalachian migrants, but is limited on the subject of Cherokee removal. If you search for “black” and “migration,” you will get a decent numbers of records returned on this topic. Subjects covered by this database include folklore, language, literature, and linguistics from 1963 to the present. You will find many titles that discuss migration as a theme in literature.

Sociological Abstracts databases journals, dissertations, books, and conference papers in sociology and the behavioral sciences since 1974. This database is very important to this topic because it indexes the Journal of Appalachian Studies. This database yields significant results for a search for a search of Appalachian migration and African-American migration, but very few of Cherokee removal.

OTHER INDICES : Less productive, but also useful databases include: Infotrac Onefile, Academic Search Elite, and JSTOR .


Appalachian Journal . Boone, NC: Appalachian State University, Quarterly, Autumn, 1974-, Semiannual, Autumn, 1972-Spring 1974. ASU APP COLL STACK: F216.2 A66.

Ethnohistory . Columbus, Ohio: Ohio Valley Historic Indian Conference, Quarterly, 1954 to present. Quarterly, 1954 to present. ASU WEB ACCESS through JSTOR online database.

Journal of Appalachian Studies . Morgantown, WV: Regional Research Institute, West Virginia University for the Appalachian Studies Association, Semiannual, 1995 to present. ASU APP COLL STACK: F106.J74.

Journal of Cherokee Studies . Cherokee, NC: Museum of the Cherokee Indian, Quarterly, 1976 to present. ASU APP COLL STACK: E99.C5 J68.

Journal of Urban History . Beverly Hills, CA: Sage Publications, Bi-monthly, 1974 to present. ASU PERIODICALS.

Social Science Quarterly . Austin: Southwestern Social Science Association and the University of Texas, Quarterly, 1968 to present. ASU PERIODICALS.

Audio and Video Sources: 

Long Journey Home . Dir. Elizabeth Barret and Herb E. Smith. Whitesburg, KY: Appalshop Films, 1987. ASU APP COLL VIDEO: VC 54.

Seven Sisters: A Kentucky Portrait . Dir. Patrick Donohew. San Francisco: Sour Mash Films, 2000. ASU APP COLL VIDEO: VC 380.

Mabel Parker Hardison Smith . Dir. Anne Lewis. Whitesburg, KY: Appalshop, 1985. ASU APP COLL VIDEO: VC 56.

Other Sources: 

Raitz, Karl, and Richard Schein. “Native American Occupance.” Richard Ulack, Karl Raitz, and Gyula Pauer, eds. Atlas of Kentucky . Lexington, KY: The University Press of Kentucky, 1998. 49-55. ASU APP COLL OVSZ: g1330.a77 1998.

Flanders, Stephen A. “Trails of Tears.” The Atlas of American Migration . New York: Facts on File, 1998. 113-129. ASU REFERENCE: G1201.E27 F5 1998.

Flanders, Stephen A. “Great Migration.” The Atlas of American Migration . 163-165.

Frank, Andrew. “The Trail of Tears.” The Routledge Historical Atlas of the American South . New York: Routledge, 199. 38-39. ASU REFERENCE: G1281.S5 F7 1999.

Frank, Andrew. “Lynching and the New Racial Order.” The Routledge Historical Atlas of the American South . 100-101.

Frank, Andrew. “The Great Migration.” The Routledge Historical Atlas of the American South . 102-103.

Compiled by: 

Compiler: Rebecca Baird, 1 December 2003