News & Events

Ramsey Center’s Southern Appalachian Archives Expands Online Content

Website Picture For NewsletterThe Southern Appalachian Archives opened 2016 with a reception showcasing new compact shelving that greatly expands our storage. Since that time, we’ve been working toward sharing the contents of our rich collections. We are adding new finding aids to the Southern Appalachian Archives section of Renfro Library’s LibGuides. Visit the archives to see finding aids for the Byard Ray Festival Association Records, 1978-1988; the Roger Howell Memory Collection of Fiddle Tunes, 2007, 2013; the James H. Montgomery Music Collection, 1911-2014; and Leonidas Bryant Correspondence, 1861-1864. These guides tell researchers what is in these collections, where they come from, and how to can gain access to the materials. Watch for additions to the online finding aids in the coming months.

Members of the university and the wider community are invited to visit the archives when school is in session and Renfro Library is open. Information about scheduling a time to conduct research in the archives can be found here. We have also expanded digitized content available to researchers. DigitalNC provides the Southern Appalachian Archives with the means to share the Bascom Lamar Lunsford Scrapbook and the Mars Hill College yearbooks. The Mars Hill University section of the Digital Library of Appalachia contains transcribed ballads from the Bascom Lamar Lunsford Collection; photographs from the Byard Ray Festival Association Records and the James G.K. McClure Collection of Farmers Federation materials; and, most recently, tunes from the Roger Howell Memory Collection of Fiddle Tunes. Eventually, all 532 tunes from this collection will be available at the Digital Library of Appalachia Web site.

The Southern Appalachian Archives has also added its own website,, powered by Omeka. Omeka is a free, flexible, and open source web-publishing platform designed for the creation and display of library, museum, archives, and scholarly collections and exhibitions. Scans and transcriptions of the letters of a young Union soldier in the Civil War can be found in the Leonidas Bryant Correspondence. Photographs taken by a young William A. Barnhill in the North Carolina mountains circa 1915 can be found here. Mr. Barnhill’s photographs of western North Carolina’s 1916 flood are here. Our new site also offers the option of sharing exhibitions, and so the Southern Appalachian Archives has converted materials displayed in the Ramsey Center and Renfro Library during the first half of 2016 into a virtual exhibit. “Appalachia a Century Ago: Craft through the Lens of William A. Barnhill” can be found here. The Leonidas Bryant Correspondence appears in an exhibit that draws on mapping software created by Northwestern University’s Knight Lab, so that visitors to the site can follow the travels of the young soldier and his regiment. Finally, the exhibit section of the Southern Appalachian Archives website shares the North Carolina History lesson plans created by Professor Pauline Johnson and student Roman Blevins during their 2015-2016 Hart-Melvin Archival Research Fellowship using materials from our archives.

Finally, the Ramsey Center has added a “This Week in Mars Hill History” blog, written by Archives Associate Patrick Cash. Whether online or in person, we invite you to explore the Southern Appalachian Archives. Please contact Patrick Cash or Archivist Karen Paar for more information.