The First American Frontier: Transition to Capitalism in Southern Appalachia, 1700-1860

By Wilma A. Dunaway | Go to book overview

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

Without two rounds of funding from the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, I could never have aggregated the research materials or traveled to the distant sites of so many manuscript collections. In addition, the Appalachian Studies Fellowship Program at Berea College invested start-up funds in my research when some regional scholars considered my work to be too radical a departure from the conventional wisdom. Having had my journal articles disappear for four to six months into the "black hole" of peer review, I was deeply gratified when Stanley L. Engerman and Immanuel Wallerstein completed their readings of my manuscript and returned their comments to the Press within six weeks. I must also thank Immanuel Wallerstein for granting me permission to reprint portions of Chapter 1 that appeared previously in Review of the Fernand Braudel Center. Lewis Bateman demystified for me the publication process and made this a "smooth sailing." Sian Hunter White and Pam Upton have charted the course through the editorial process, and they have kept us all smiling through the maze.

I received the inspiration to undertake this research when I collected the oral histories of three elderly Appalachian women who were born in the early 1900s into sharecropping families on plantations. Real-life experiences like theirs are absent from the usual scholarly analyses, so their anomalies spurred me to dig further. When I did so, I discovered that there were several such categories of Southern Appalachians "without history." I enjoyed the rare privilege of discussing my research questions and of sharing sections of my writing with one of these special women. She told me when my inquiries were headed in the wrong directions, and she reacted with joy when she found some glimmer of her own history in my theoretical explanations. I may have learned more from those exchanges than from all the usual academic inputs about methodology. Indeed this "poorly educated" woman taught me to ask questions that were a closer reflection of everyday life; she showed me the ignored factors when I assumed easy explanations; and she chastised me when I overlooked the unexpected linkages between people at different economic levels. All three of these beautiful women have died since I interviewed them, so I feel especially grateful for the knowledge they imparted to me.

During my research, I traveled throughout Southern Appalachia and utilized so many local historical societies and college libraries that I cannot enumerate every kindness I received from archival staff. When I arrived unexpectedly on their doorsteps, I received an Appalachian welcome and enthusiastic

-xv-

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