Migration from Appalachia: Central Appalachians in Midwestern Cities


In the 20th century, Appalachians have left the mountains for urban areas in search of jobs and opportunities unavailable in Appalachia. For Appalachians in the coal mining regions of Eastern Kentucky and Southern West Virginia, this often meant seeking a new life in the urban areas of the Midwest. Chicago, Cleveland and Cincinnati, among other cities, were favored destinations of many Appalachian migrants. Many Appalachians were faced with discrimination and hardship when they arrived in their new home. This Pathfinder covers the human movement from the central Appalachians to Midwestern urban areas, and the problems that migrants, and cities, faced when the rural newcomers arrived. Please note that all material in this Pathfinder can be located in the W. L. Eury Appalachian Collection, expect where otherwise noted.

Introductory Text: 

Ford, Thomas R., ed. The Southern Appalachian Region: A Survey. Lexington, KY: University of Kentucky Press, 1962. 35-84.

Library of Congress Subject Headings: 
  • Rural-urban migration
  • Rural-urban migration -- Research
  • Rural-urban migration -- Research -- United States
  • Migration -- Internal -- Appalachian Region Southern
  • Migration -- Internal -- Middle West
  • Migration -- Internal -- Middle West History 20th Century
  • Migration -- Internal -- North Carolina
  • Migration -- Internal -- Ohio
  • Migration -- Internal -- Southern States
  • Migration -- Internal -- United States
  • Migration -- Internal -- United States History
  • Urban poor -- Appalachian Region
  • Urban poor -- Medical Care -- United States
  • Urban poor -- Ohio -- Cincinnati -- portraits
  • Urban poor -- Services for
  • Urban poor -- United States
  • Urban-rural migration -- United States
  • Collective settlements -- United States
  • Appalachian region -- Social life and customs
  • Cities and towns -- United States -- Growth
  • Appalachians (people)
  • Mountain People (Southern States)
Clipping Files Subject Headings – W. L. Eury Appalachian Collection: 
  • Migration
Library of Congress Call Numbers: 
  • HN79.A13

Gitlin, Todd and Nancy Hollander. Uptown: Poor Whites in Chicago. New York: Harper & Row, 1970. HV4046.C36 G52.

Kunkin, Dorothy B. Appalachians in Cleveland. Cleveland: Institute of Urban Studies, 1973. F499.C69 A23 1973.

Obermiller, Phillip and William Philliber, Eds. Too Few Tomorrows: Urban Appalachians in the 1980s. Boone, NC: Appalachian Consortium Press, 1987.
F217 .A65 T66.

Weiland, Steven, et al. Perspectives on Urban Appalachians: An Introduction to Mountain Life, Migration and Urban Adaptation, and a Guide to the Improvement of Social Services. Cincinnati: Ohio Urban Appalachian Awareness Project, 1978. HV4028 .P47 1978.

Zigli, Barbara, et. al. The Urban Appalachians. Cincinnati: Cincinnati Enquirer, 1981. The (Cincinnati) Enquirer’s report appeared over nine days, 3-11 May 1981. F499.C59 M838.

Arnow, Harriette Louisa Simpson. The Dollmaker. New York: Avon Books, 1954.
PZ3.A7654 Do 1972.

Borland, Kathryn Kilby and Helen Speicher. Good-bye to Stony Crick. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1974. PZ7.B64847 Go. (juvenile work)

Obermiller, Phil and Michael Maloney. “Living City; Feeling Country.” Appalachia, Social Context Past and Present. Eds. Bruce Ergood and Bruce Kuhre. 1st ed. Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt, 1976. 133-38. HN79 .A13 A788.

Guides, Encyclopedias, and Dictionaries: 

Billings, Dwight and David S. Walls. “Appalachians: Migration and Resettlement.” Harvard Encyclopedia of American Ethnic Groups. ed. Stephen Themston. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press, 1980. 126-28. Reference E184.A1 H35.

Pippert, Marvin. “Twentieth-Century Out-Migration.” Encyclopedia of Appalachia. eds. Rudy Abramson and Jean Haskell. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 2006. 342-43. F106 .E53 2006.


Kuehn, Jennifer. People of Appalachia: A Research Bibliography 1980-1988. Columbus, OH: College of Social Work, The Ohio State University, 1989. Z1211.M68 P46 1989.

Moser, Mabel Y. Resources for the Study of Appalachia. Berea, KY: Berea College Appalachian Center, 1974. Z1251.A7 M6.

Obermiller, Phillip. “A Short Bibliographic Essay on Urban Appalachians.” Appalachian Journal 5 (Autumn 1977): 152-53. F216.2 .A66.

Abstracts and Indices: 

Social Sciences Index v. 1-9, 1965-1974. Reference AI3.S62.
Use these subject headings: “Appalachian Region” and “Rural-urban Migration.”
Urban Appalachian Voice. Urban Appalachian Council, 1988. F106. J74.


Appalachian Journal v. 1 (Semiannual Autumn 1972 - Spring 1974); Quarterly Summer 1974. F216.2 .A66.

Journal of Appalachian Studies v. 1 (Semiannual 1995). F217.A65.

Mountain Life and Work v. 1 - v. 65 (Monthly 1925 - 1988). GR103.M5.

People’s Appalachia v. 1 - 3 (Semiannual 1970 - 1973). HN79.A13 A8.


Maloney, Michael and Christopher Auffrey. “Appalachian Cincinnati.” The Social Areas of Cincinnati: An Analysis of Social Needs. 4th Ed. School of Planning, University of Cincinnati: Cincinnati, OH.

Urban Appalachian Council of Greater Cincinnati. Cincinnati, OH.

Compiled by: 

Compiler: Stephanie D. Roark, 21 October 1997

Updated by: 

Updated: Danielle E. Rector, 9 December 2008