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Tending the Commons: Folklife and Landscape in Southern West
Virginia incorporates 679 excerpts from original sound recordings and 1,256
photographs from the American Folklife
Center's Coal River Folklife Project (1992-99) documenting
traditional uses of the mountains in Southern West Virginia's Big Coal
River Valley. Functioning as a de facto commons, the mountains
have supported a way of life that for many generations has entailed
hunting, gathering, and subsistence gardening, as well as coal mining
and timbering. The online collection includes extensive interviews on
native forest species and the seasonal round of traditional harvesting
(including spring greens; summer berries and fish; and fall nuts, roots
such as ginseng, fruits, and game) and documents community cultural
events such as storytelling, baptisms in the river, cemetery customs,
and the spring "ramp" feasts using the wild leek native to the region.
Interpretive texts outline the social, historical, economic,
environmental, and cultural contexts of community life, while a series of maps and a diagram depicting the seasonal round of community
activities provide special access to collection materials.
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The Library of Congress presents these documents as part of the record of
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may contain materials offensive to some readers.
Seasonal Round of Activities on Coal River
Stalking the Mother Forest: Voices Beneath the Canopy
American Ginseng and the Idea of the Commons
Ramp Suppers, Biodiversity, and the Integrity of "The Mountains"
Seining for Hellgrammites on Coal River
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