The interest in community failure emerged out of an earlier concern with the decline of mining communities. These communities passing rapidly from the American scene were in contrast to the rapidly developing communities which characterize our society in the present. Explanations for both community success or failure have often been derived from examinations of dramatic events, the emergence of transportation facilities, the closing of a mine, the departure of industries. Yet those events may well be the obvious signs of more pervasive processes in the society. As such, much of what we undertake in contemporary efforts to rehabilitate unsuccessful communities proceeds with a minimum of understanding of the complexities involved. The question of why particular regions in our society have been poor and unsuccessful generation after generation may be seen in economic terms, but one is invariably left with the question of how people came to accept both the concept of failure and a social structure which was unable to help them transcend the adversities in which they were implicated. This basic issue underlies the present study.
Professor Oscar Handlin, as Director of the Center for the Study of Liberty in America at Harvard University, was responsible for funding the original grant with resources from the Center for the Study of the History of Liberty in America and The Carnegie Corporation. Professor Handlin was sensitive to the necessity for understanding community failure in a larger context of success. He encouraged the writer, gave freely of his time, and provided constructive criticism throughout the development of this manuscript. Ernest K. Alix, re-