This unit consists of five lessons and a culminating activity designed to have students engage with local history to examine global movements. Lessons one and two provide background information using ArcGIS StoryMaps. Lessons three and four introduce oral histories using StoryMAps. Lesson five is designed to have students compare and contrast two oral histories. The culminating activity has students conduct an oral history interview with a member of their community.

Link to collection: https://storymaps.arcgis.com/collections/767b2aaaa9714db7a8ebe050a1a35a09

Featured Image:  By Appalachian Flag Initiative – https://appalachianflag.wordpress.com/, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=129566080

This lesson is designed to be self-paced for students. The website flows through each step in order. The instructor should walk through the site first with students to ensure they know how to navigate it. Students should also be encouraged to explore the embedded websites to deepen their understanding. Students can also visit the sources for further reading. The note sheet can either be provided digitally or physically.

  • What is “Appalachia?”
  • What is its early history?

I can describe the early history and creation of the region known as “Appalachia.”



  1. a region in the eastern United States, in the area of the southern Appalachian Mountains, usually including northeastern Alabama, northwestern Georgia, northwestern South Carolina, western North Carolina, eastern Tennessee, western Virginia, eastern Kentucky, West Virginia, western Pennsylvania, and eastern Ohio. (www.dictionary.com)  



  1. a supercontinent that incorporated almost all the landmasses on Earth for about 450 million years during the Proterozoic Eon (2.5 billion to 541 million years ago). (www.britannica.com

Continental Drift 


  1. Geology. the lateral movement of continents resulting from the motion of crustal plates. (www.dictionary.com



  1. Geology. The hypothetical landmass that existed when all continents were joined, from about 300 to 200 million years ago. (www.dictionary.com)
  1. Lesson 1 StoryMap
  2. Lesson 1 Note Sheet

Image citations are embedded within each image on the StoryMap.  

Appalachian Regional Commission. “About the Appalachian Region.” Appalachian Regional Commission, 2023, www.arc.gov/about-the-appalachian-region/. Accessed 1 Nov. 2023.

Clark, Sarah H.B. Birth of the Mountains the Geologic Story of the Southern Appalachian Mountains.

Whipple, Madison. “The History of Appalachia & Its People.” TheCollector, 17 Oct. 2023, www.thecollector.com/history-of-appalachia-and-its-people/. Accessed 1 Nov. 2023.

Yarnell, Susan. “The Southern Appalachians: A History of the Landscape.” May 1998.

Recommended Reading: 

  1. Appalachia, A History by Richard Drake

This lesson is designed to serve as a secondary source providing background information necessary to understand future information. Again, this lesson can be self paced, and students should be familiar with how to use the site from the previous lesson. This note sheet is designed more for note-taking rather than answering questions, but can be adapted as needed. Further reading is available in the source cited at the bottom of the lesson.

  • How did Appalachia change over time? 
  • Who were and are the people of Appalachia?

I can identify and explain key characteristics of the people of Appalachia.



  1. an excursion, journey, or voyage made for some specific purpose, as of war or exploration.



  1. a person who migrates to another country, usually for permanent residence. 
  2. an organism found in a new habitat.



  1. able to supply one’s own or its own needs without external assistance: 



  1. the large-scale introduction of manufacturing, advanced technical enterprises, and other productive economic activity into an area, society, country, etc.



  1. Sociology. the hierarchical or vertical division of society according to rank, caste, or class: 

All definitions from www.dictionary.com

  1. Lesson 2 StoryMap
  2. Lesson 2 Note Sheet

Image citations are embedded within each image on the StoryMap.

Mastran, Shelley Smith. “Mountaineers and Rangers: A History of Federal Forest Management in the Southern Appalachians, 1900-81.” Npshistory.com, 1 Feb. 2008, npshistory.com/publications/usfs/region/8/history/intro.htm. Accessed 15 Nov. 2023. 

Recommended Reading: 

  1. Religion in America by John Corrigan and Winthrop S. Hudson

This lesson takes a different form than the two prior lessons. It included excerpts from two oral history interviews along with guiding questions. The guiding questions are reproduced on the student note sheet. Audio versions of the interviews are available and linked within the ArcGIS StoryMap. To read the interview, students will have to click on the transcript. This lesson also contains a number of images with descriptions in the alt text, as well as a link to a repository of images as an extension activity.

  • What was the role of coal in Appalachia?
  • How did it affect people and society?

I can describe the role of coal in Appalachia including the creation of Unions using information from a historical source. 



  1. a certificate to be exchanged for goods, as at a company store.



  1. a number of persons, states, etc., joined or associated together for some common purpose: 
  2. an organization of workers; a labor union.

All definitions from www.dictionary.com

  1. Lesson 3 StoryMap
  2. Lesson 3 Note Sheet

Image citations are embedded within each image on the StoryMap.

Emory & Henry College, “Brobowski, John L.,” ACCL Digital Archive, accessed December 20, 2023, https://civicmemory.org/items/show/725.

Emory & Henry College, “Hill, Roy J.,” ACCL Digital Archive, accessed December 20, 2023, https://civicmemory.org/items/show/723

Recommended Reading:

  1. After Coal by Tom Hansell
  2. Coal in Appalachia: An Economic Analysis by Curtis E. Harvey

This lesson follows the same general outline as lesson 3, but includes only one interview. Some interview excerpts are tied to geographic locations to show the importance of place. The note sheet includes guiding questions and concluding questions focusing on comparing and contrasting as well as continuity. The lesson includes a disclaimer about the language in this source, the source and the disclaimer should be reviewed by the instructor prior to its use.

How does race affect people’s experience?

I can describe the role of race in Appalachia using information from a historical source.



  1. the period of time for which one is committed to military service.

Small Business Administration (SBA)

noun U.S. Government.

  1. a federal agency, created in 1953, that supports the growth of small businesses with counseling, contracts, and capital from guaranteed loans. 

All definitions from www.dictionary.com

  1. Lesson 4 Story Map
  2. Lesson 4 Note Sheet

Image citations are embedded within each image on the StoryMap. 

Emory & Henry College, “Lampkins, Robert M.,” ACCL Digital Archive, accessed December 1, 2023, https://civicmemory.org/items/show/1.

Recommended Reading

  1. Blacks in Appalachia by Willam H. Turner and Edward J. Cabbell
  2. Gone Home: Race and Roots through Appalachia by Karida Brown

This lesson is based on comparing and contrasting two oral histories from queer individuals in Southwest Virginia. These interviews do include some coarse language that should be reviewed by instructors prior to use, the language is not excessive. These sources are relatively long and will take time to read, as a result the guiding questions make use of annotation rather than answering them on the page. The sources can be provided digitally or in packet form depending on what works best. If provided digitally, students should have access in a way that lets them annotate the document.

How is community created?

I can compare and contrast two perspectives to explore the experience of being queer in Appalachia.

Holding Space

  1.  the act of being fully present with someone else, without judgment or distraction, so that the person can share their experiences and perspective.

Epstein, Sarah. “What Does It Mean to Hold Space? | Psychology Today.” Psychology Today,, 25 May 2023, www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/between-the-generations/202305/what-does-it-mean-to-hold-space. Accessed 27 Dec. 2023.

  1. Compare and Contrast Assignment

Southwest Virginia LGBTQ+ History Project, “Oral History Interview with Liza,” Virginia Room Digital Collection, accessed December 25, 2023, http://www.virginiaroom.org/digital/document/Liza.

Southwest Virginia LGBTQ+ Project, “Oral History Interview with L Saunders,” Virginia Room Digital Collection, accessed December 25, 2023, http://www.virginiaroom.org/digital/document/SaundersL.

Recommended Reading

  1. Y’all Means All by Z. Zane McNeill
  2. Living Queer History by Gregory Samantha Rosenthal

In this final project, students will conduct an oral history interview with a member of their community. The assignment below guides them through the process. The instructor should read the recommended reading below about how to do oral history, and familiarize themselves with recording so they are able to support students.

How do people experience history?

I can conduct an oral history interview with a member of my community.

  1. Oral History Interview Assignment

“HOW to DO ORAL HISTORY Suggestions for Anyone Looking to Start Recording Oral Histories Based on Best Practices Used in the Smithsonian Oral History Program at the Smithsonian Institution Archives,” n.d. https://siarchives.si.edu/sites/default/files/pdfs/How_to_Do_Oral_History_Guide_2020.pdf.

Recommended Reading