History of Agriculture in Central and Southern Appalachia


The history of agriculture in Central and Southern Appalachia is a broad topic encompassing many interconnected issues. Central to the discussion of this history is the presence of both subsistence farming and farmer’s involvement in the capitalist market system. Further economic issues involve the production and marketing of produce and livestock, farm size, land scarcity and demographic pressures.

Of further interest to those researches this topic is the historical context of agricultural practices in the United States and the global market. Also relevant are the educations and aid programs geared toward farmers and farm families. Land ownership, demographic pressures, farm sizes and migratory practices are all highly relevant factors affecting the history of agriculture in Appalachia. Additionally, the presence of farmer co-operatives and political organizations as well as development programs deserve examination. Some major agricultural practices in Appalachia include, but are not limited to, the production of produce, livestock, tobacco, and Christmas trees.

There is currently no major works that deal comprehensively with the history of agriculture in Central and Southern Appalachia. Therefore, an examination of diverse case studies and materials focusing on specific aspects of agriculture in Appalachia is the best way to gain a more comprehensive understanding of this history.

Introductory Text: 

Arcury, Thomas A. Greater Appalachian Regional Databank (GARD): Agricultural
Change in the Mountain South at the Turn of the Century. Lexington, KY: The Appalachian Center, U of Kentucky. 1989. APP COLL S45.A73 1989

Inscoe, John C. Mountain Masters, Slavery, and the Sectional Crisis in Western North
Carolina. Knoxville: University of Tennessee P, 1989. APP COLL E445.N8I57 1989 Relevant Pages: 13-24, 39, 41-52, 68-69, 105-14, 129-30,149-50, 152-53, 163-65, 255-56, 261-64

Library of Congress Subject Headings: 

Highly Relevant :

  • Appalachian Region, Southern-- agriculture
  • Agriculture-- Appalachian Region, Southern
  • Agriculture-- Appalachian Region, Southern, Bibliography
  • Appalachian Region, Southern-- Economic Conditions
  • Agriculture Economic Aspects
  • Agriculture-- History
  • Agricultural Productivity
  • Land Use, Rural
  • Agriculture-- North Carolina
  • Agriculture and State-- North Carolina
  • Agriculture and State-- North Carolina History-- 19th Century
  • Agriculture-- Kentucky
  • Agriculture-- Tennessee East
  • Agriculture-- Tennessee History-- 19th Century
  • Agriculture-- West Virginia
  • Agriculture-- West Virginia- -Statistics
  • Agriculture-- Virginia
  • Agriculture-- Virginia, Grayson County Statistics
  • Agriculture-- Virginia, History
  • Agriculture-- Virginia, History-- 19th Century
  • Agriculture-- Alabama
  • Agriculture-- Alabama, Statistics

Also Relevant :

  • Family Farms
  • Family Farms Management
  • Farms, Size of-- Appalachian Region

More General :

  • United States Department of Agriculture
  • Agricultural Systems
  • Cropping Systems

Related :

  • Farm Produce-- North Carolina--Marketing
  • Farm Produce-- North Carolina--Marketing-- Periodicals
  • Farm Produce-- North Carolina--Marketing--Directories
  • Grazing
  • Migrant Agricultural Laborers
Clipping Files Subject Headings – W. L. Eury Appalachian Collection: 
  • Agriculture
  • Farm Restoration
  • Farm City, Watauga County, NC
  • Migrant Labor
Library of Congress Call Numbers: 
  • S451
  • S501.2.B3-
  • S507.C46
  • HA46.N67
  • HD210-
  • HD211
  • HD1773-
  • HD1775
  • HD5855.B84-
  • HD5855.D34
  • Z5074.F25

Coltrane, R.T. 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. Dept. of Agriculture, 1965. ASU APP COLL S507.C46

Dike, Stephen Nnaemeka. Analysis of Aggregate Net Investment in Appalachian Agriculture. Diss. West Virginia U, 1987. Ann Arbor: UMI, 1990. ASU APP COLL S561.6.A66D54 1987b

Fischer, Steve and Mary Harnish. Losing a Bit of Ourselves: the Decline of the Small Farmer. Emory, VA: Emory and Henry College, 1980. ASU APP COLL HD1476.U3F5 Note: prepared for delivery at Appalachian Studies Conference: Johnson City, TN, 1980.

Stertzer, Jennifer Elizabeth. An Agrarian Transformation: Environment and Civil War in Cherokee and Macon Counties, North Carolina. Thesis. Appalachian State University, 2001. ASU APP COLL S451.N8S74 2001

Young, Harold N. The Virginia Agricultural Experiment Station 1886-1966. Charlottesville: UP of Virginia, 1975. ASU APP COLL S543.V56Y68

Guides, Encyclopedias, and Dictionaries: 

Bragg, Errol R. and Denny N. Johnson. National Directory of Farmers Markets. U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, 1998. ASU APP COLL HD9003.N37 1998

Glossary of Agricultural Terms by the Food and Agriculture Section, Environment and Natural Resources Policy Division. Washington D.C.: Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. 26 pages. ASU APP COLL S411.G56 1984

Hipple, F. Steb, Paul E. Lovingood Jr., and Robert E. Reiman. Emerging Patterns in the Southern Highlands: A Reference Atlas. Vol. 4: Business Patterns. Boone: The Appalachian Consortium, 1985. ASU APP COLL OVSZ HA218.L68 1985 v.4
Note: Relevant Section on Agricultural Services

Lovingood Jr., Paul E. and Robert E. Reiman. Emerging Patterns in the Southern Highlands: A Reference Atlas. Vol. 1: Introduction. Boone: The Appalachian Consortium, 1985. ASU APP COLL OVSZ HA218.L68 1985 v.1

Lovingood Jr., Paul E. and Robert E. Reiman. Emerging Patterns in the Southern Highlands: A Reference Atlas. Vol. 2: Agriculture. Boone: The Appalachian Consortium, 1985. APP COLL OVSZ HA218.L68 1985 v.2


Appalachian Bibliography. Vol. 1. Morgantown: West Virginia University, 1980. ASU APP COLL Z1251.A7A61980

Bingham, Edgar. “A Bibliography of Appalachian Geography.” Appalachian Journal
1977 5(1): 65-73. ASU APP COLL F216.2.A66

Edwards, Everett E. References on the Mountaineers of the Southern Appalachians. Washington, D.C.: USDA, 1935. See 25-30. ASU APP COLL Z1251.A7E281935a

Graves, Glenna Horne. A Selected Bibliography on Agriculture and Modernization Relating to the Appalachian South. Lexington, KY. Compiled by Glenna Horne Graves, 1988. ASU APP COLL Z5075.U6A6 1988b

Ross, Charlotte T., ed. Bibliography of Southern Appalachia. Boone: Appalachian Consortium, 1976. ASU APP COLL OVSZ Z1251.A7B5Xc.4 (Selectively Annotated)


Appalachian Journal. Boone, NC: Appalachian State University. v.1, 1972- present. [Indexes vols. 7, 18 & 23.] ASU APP COLL F216.2.A66

Appalachian Outlook. West Virginia University Library. No. 38, 1974- present. ASU APP COLL Z1251.A7A55

Journal of Appalachian Studies. vol.1, 1995- present. Morgantown, WV: Regional Research Institute. ASU APP COLL F106.J74

Southern Exposure. vol.1, 1973- present. Durham, NC: Institutes for Southern Studies. ASU APP COLL F206.S68 Note: Volume 16 is particularly relevant.

Tennessee Valley Perspective. vol.1, 1970-vol.10 1980. Knoxville, TN: Tennessee Valley Authority. ASU APP COLL F443.T3 Note: Volume 8 is particularly relevant.

Multiple relevant articles are reprinted from The Journal of Farm Economics and are located in the W.L. Eury Appalachian Collection.

Agricola. Online Database. Offers abstracts of relevant articles on agriculture in Appalachia.

America: History and Life. ABC-CLIO. Online Database. Offers abstracts of relevant articles on the history of agriculture in Appalachia.

Biological Abstracts. Silver Platter, 1980-present. (Updated Quarterly). Provides citations and abstracts from nearly 6,000 international journals on biology and the life sciences.


Agricultural Statistics Division. http://www.agr.state.nc.us/stats/

Community Supported Agriculture. http://www.nal.usda.gov/afsic/csa

National Agricultural Statistics Service. USDA. http://www.usda.gov/nass/

North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. http://www.agr.state.nc.us/

Other Sources: 

A Progress Report on the Allegheny Highlands Project: Agriculture. Morgantown: West Virginia University, 1975. ASU APP COLL HD1476.W4

Arcury, Thomas A. Agricultural Diversity and Change in Industrializing Appalachia: An Ecological Analysis of Eastern Kentucky, 1880 to 1910. Lexington, KY: Center for Developmental Change, Development Paper 23. September, 1988. ASU APP COLL S451.K4A67 1988

USDA. A Time to Choose: Summary Report on the Structure of Agriculture. Washington, D.C.: USDA, 1981. ASU APP COLL S441.U548

Compiled by: 

Compiler: Ruth E. Blakeney, 22 November 2002