Land Ownership Changes in the Southern Appalachians and their Effect on Small Farming Communities


Since the time of the first settlers, control over land in the Appalachian region has been in constant flux. Exactly who owns the land is usually the deciding factor in how the land is to be used. The past century has seen a sharp decline in the amount of land being owned and operated by farmers, both large and small. This pathfinder gives an introduction to resources that explain how and when those changes took place and to what extent those changes affected the farming communities involved.

Introductory Text: 

Appalachian Landownership Task Force. Who Owns Appalachia?: Landownership and its Impact. Lexington, Ky: University Press of Kentucky, 1983. APP COLL STACKS: HD210.A66 W48. 1983

Library of Congress Subject Headings: 
  • Land Use, Rural—Appalachian Region
  • Land Tenure—Appalachian Region
  • Appalachian Region—Southern—Economic Conditions
  • Appalachian Region—Southern—Social Conditions
  • Appalachian Region—Economic Conditions
  • Appalachian Region—Social Conditions
  • Land Use, Rural—United States
Clipping Files Subject Headings – W. L. Eury Appalachian Collection: 
  • Agriculture
  • Land Use
Library of Congress Call Numbers: 
  • F216
  • F217.A65 J68
  • GN2.S9243
  • HC107.A127
  • HN79.A127
  • HN79.A13
  • Z 1251.A7

Appalachian Land Ownership Task Force. Land Ownership Patterns and their Impacts on Appalachian Communities : A Survey of 80 Counties. Washington, D.C.: Appalachian Regional Commission, 1981. ASU APP COLL STACKS: HD207 .L34 v.1-7.

Fisher, Stephen. A Landless People in a Rural Region : A Reader on Land Ownership and Property Taxation in Appalachia. New Market, Tenn. : Highlander Center, 1979. ASU APP COLL STACKS: HD207. F58.

Fisher, 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.U3 F5. Note: prepared for delivery at Appalachian Studies Conference: Johnson City, TN, 1980.

The land and economy of Appalachia : Proceedings from the 1986 Conference on Appalachia, October 30-31, 1986, University of Kentucky. Lexington, KY: The Center, 1987. ASU APP COLL STACKS: HC107. A127 C66.

Guides, Encyclopedias, and Dictionaries: 

Encyclopedia of Rural America: The Land and People. Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-CLIO, c1997. Pp 414-416. ASU REFERENCE: E169.12 .E5.

The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture. Chapel Hill : University of North Carolina Press, c2006. Pp 6,7,29,343,344,547,548. ASU REFERENCE: F209.N47 2006.

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. pp 10,12,21,122. HA218.L68 1985 v.1-4.

Schapsmeier, Edward L. Encyclopedia of American Agricultural History. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1975. pp 402, 430,434. ASU MAIN STACKS and ASU REFERENCE: S441 .S36.


Appalachian Bibliography. 1980. Morganton, WV: West Virginia University Library. ASU APP COLL STACKS: Z 1251 .A7 A6 1980. Most relevant information for agriculture: pp.12-24; land and land use: 564-577.

Bibliography of Southern Appalachia. Charlotte T. Ross, ed. Boone, NC: Appalachian Consortium Press, 1976. ASU APP COLL OVERSIZE: Z1251 .A7 B5x. most relevant information on agriculture: pp. 1-6; development: pp, 76-77; land ownership and use: pp158-159.

Graves, Glenna Horne. 1998. A Selected Bibliography on Agriculture and Modernization Relating to the Appalachian South. Lexington, KY: the compiler. 6 leaves. ASU APP COLL STACKS: Z 5075.U6 A6 1988b.

Fisher, Steve. A Preliminary and Selectively Annotated Bibliography on Land Ownership and Property Taxation: With an Emphasis on Appalachia. Pp 1,19,37. New Market, TN: Highlander Center, 1979. ASU SPEC APP COLL: Z7164.L3 F5

Burch, John R. The Bibliography of Appalachia: More Than 4,700 Books, Articles, Monographs and Dissertations, Topically Arranged and Indexed. 5,6,47-54.Jefferson, N.C: McFarland, 2009. ASU SPEC APP COLL: Z1251.A7 B87 2009.

Abstracts and Indices: 

Academic Search Elite. ASU Library Catalog.

Agricola. ASU Library Catalog.

America: History and Life. ASU Library Catalog.

Anthropological Literature. ASU Library Catalog.

Sociological Abstracts. ASU Library Catalog.


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

Journal of Appalachian Studies. Morgantown, WV: Published by the Regional Research Institute, West Virginia University for the Appalachian Studies Association, c1995-. ASU APP COLL STACK: F106 .J74

Journal of Farm Economics (formerly American Journal of Agricultural Economics). Menasha, Wis. : American Farm Economic Association, 1919-1967.

Mountain Life and Work . Berea, Ky: Berea College. Lib has Bound: v.6-7, 11-13, 15; v.33, 1957-v.64, 1988. ASU APP COLL STACKS: GR103 .M5; Lib has Microfilm: v.1, 1925-v.52, 1976. ASU APP COLL MICROFORMS.

Rural Sociology. Baton Rouge, La. : Rural Sociology Section, American Sociological Society, [1936- . Bound: v.5, 1940-v.18, 1953; v.25, 1960; v.31- 1966- v.74,2009 . Microfilm: v.1, 1936-v.5, 1940; v.13, 1948-v.31, 1966.

Smith, Russell J. Farming Appalachia. Reprint from American monthly review of reviews, v.53. 307p. ASU APP COLL STACKS: S451 .A137 S56.


Appalachian Regional Commission. Includes relevant statistics county by county.

Appalachian Studies Association.

Compiled by: 

Compiler: Sara Oakley, December 2005

Updated by: 

Updated: Aaron Lancaster, October 2010