“Men of the Hills”: Examining Past Philanthropic Organizing in Central Kentucky and Its Portrayal of Appalachia

Emily Keaton, Carol Street, Libraries, University of Kentucky, 179 Funkhouser Drive, Lexington, KY 40506

Throughout the past century, Appalachian Kentucky has remained actively involved in grassroots organizing, as well as pursued by outside activists for anti-poverty and environmental change work. This cannot be fully understood outside of the context of fossil fuel labor, which has largely impacted the region’s geography and left Appalachians disenfranchised after companies exploited both people and resources for profit. The resulting poverty has required and inspired internal community response, state activism, and national programs, like the notable War on Poverty efforts in the 1960s. One such responding, prominent philanthropic organization mostly composed of former Appalachian residents, the Kentucky Mountain Club (1929-2013), sought to use their newfound urban wealth and social capital to fund scholarships and healthcare facilities in the place they once called home. Unique to most philanthropic organizations, membership was not solely limited to those living in its established location (in this case, Lexington), and members were regionally focused on an area other than their own, which posed challenges in organizing and sheds light on their nostalgic mountain pride and settler-colonial narrative of Appalachia. By using newly donated Kentucky Mountain Club Records at the University of Kentucky Special Collections Research Center, this research will explore the former Club’s founding views on how to market Appalachia as a natural bounty, structure social and philanthropic gatherings and fundraisers, and support educational advances through scholarships, as well as its internal social processes that, though once common, have fallen out of favor. Further qualitative analysis will examine the impact that such narratives have had on Appalachian policy efforts and portrayals in larger American spheres.

Additional Abstract Information

Presenter: Emily Keaton

Institution: University of Kentucky

Type: Poster

Subject: Sociology

Status: Approved

Time and Location

Session: Poster 11
Date/Time: Wed 3:00pm-4:00pm
Session Number: 7143