Moonshine in Appalachia


Moonshining or illicit distilling, defined as the making of untaxed or blockade liquor, has occurred in Appalachia beginning with the first settlers to the region, particularly amongst the Scots-Irish. Considered a cultural legacy and an art by its participants, moonshining has been seen as an illegal, nefarious activity in the United States since in 1791. This pathfinder is an introduction the art of distilling, the selling, and the history of the Federal Revenue enforcers who targeted Appalachia as a hotbed for illicit distilling.

Introductory Text: 

Rowley, Matthew B. The Joy of Moonshine: Recipes, Knee Slappers, Tall Tales, Songs, How to Make It, How to Drink It, Pleasin’ the Law, Recoverin’ the Next Day. New York: Lark Books, 2007. APP COLL STACKS: TP597.R69 2007.

Library of Congress Subject Headings: 
  • Distilling, Illicit
  • Distilling, Illicit--Appalachian Region--History--19th century.
  • Distilling, Illicit--History.
  • Distilling, Illicit--North Carolina.
  • Distilling, Illicit--Personal narratives.
  • Distilling, Illicit--Southern States--History.
  • Distilling, Illicit--United States--Prevention--History.
  • Distilling, Illicit--Virginia--Franklin County--History.
  • Distilling industries.
  • Moonshining
Clipping Files Subject Headings – W. L. Eury Appalachian Collection: 
  • Alcohol Issues
  • Distilling, Illicit
Library of Congress Call Numbers: 
  • HJ5021 .L39
  • HJ5027 .S72 1948
  • HJ5021 .L56 1964
  • HJ5021 .K4
  • HJ5021 .L56 1963
  • TP605 .D25 1974
  • TP605 .D25 1985
  • TP597 .R69 2007

Carr, Jess. The Second Oldest Profession: An Informal History of Moonshining in America. Englewood Cliffs, N.J: Prentice-Hall, 1972. HJ5021 .C37.

Dabney, Joseph E. Mountain Spirits: A Chronicle of Corn Whiskey from King James’ Ulster Plantation to America’s Appalachians and the Moonshine Life. New York: Scribner, 1974. HD9357 .A2 D32

Kephart, Horace. Our Southern Highlanders. New York: Outing Pub. Co, 1913. F217.A65 K46.

Miller, Wilbur R. Revenuers & Moonshiners: Enforcing Federal Liquor Law in the Mountain South, 1865-1900. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1991. HJ5021 .M55 1991.

Whitener, Daniel J. Prohibition in North Carolina: 1715-1946. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1945. The James Sprunt Studies in History and Political science, v.27. HV5090.N8 W5.

Guides, Encyclopedias, and Dictionaries: 

Foy, Jessica, “Moonshine and Moonshining,” in Encyclopedia of Southern Culture, Charles Wilson and WIlliam R. Ferris (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1989), 696-697.F209 .E53 1989.

Dabney, Joseph E. “Moonshine.” Encyclopedia of Appalachia. Ed. Rudy Abramson and Jean Haskell. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 2006. 942-943. F106.E53 2006.

Ellis, Willis E. “Moonshine.” The Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture. Carroll V. West. Nashville, TN:Tennessee Historical Society, 1998. 642-643. F436.T525 1998.


Appalachian Bibliography. Morgantown, W. Va: West Virginia University Library, 1980. Z1251.A7 A6 1980. Pp. 693, 694, and 695.

Ross, Charlotte T. Bibliography of Southern Appalachia: A Publication of the Appalachian Consortium, Inc. Boone, N.C: Distributed by Appalachian Consortium Press, 1976. Z1251.A7 B5x. pp 10,12, and 133.

Abstracts and Indices: 

America: History and Life. ASU Library Catalog.

MLA. ASU Library Catalog.

Sociological Abstracts. ASU Library Catalog.


Appalachian Journal. Boone, N.C.: Appalachian Journal, 1972. 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, 1995. ASU APP COLL STACKS: F106 .J74.

Mountain Life and Work. Berea, Ky: Berea College, 1925. Lib has Bound: v.1-17; v.20-42; v. 44-46, 1988. . ASU APP COLL STACKS: GR103 .M5. Lib has Microfilm v.1, 1925-v.52, 1976. ASU APP COLL MICROFORMS.


The alchemy website.

Alcohol and Tobaccoo Tax and Trade Bureau:

American Distilling Institute.

The American Society of Brewing Chemistry.

Compiled by: 

Compiler: Aaron Lancaster, November 2010