National Media

Appalachia has often been falsely depicted as a place of isolation—geographically, culturally, economically.  This sense of being apart from the rest of the nation is one of the most frequently recycled stereotypes about eastern Kentucky and is woven into numerous Hollywood films, newspaper stories, and television shows. The strike in Bell and Harlan counties in 1931-32 is one of many historical events that challenges this notion that Appalachia is “a place where time stands still.”   In fact, Hendon Evans, the source of many of the documents in this exercise, and editor of the local Pineville Sun, used the national media extensively.  He wrote press releases, regularly distributing them to newspapers all over the country.  Conversely, newspapers and magazines sent journalists to report on the conditions in the coalfields.  Time, The Nation, The New Republic and the New York Times—all with a national readership—covered the story.  See the examples below.

Look at the documents (at the bottom of this page) and begin to analyze them by answering these questions:

  1. Who are the narrators (authors) of your documents and in what context are they speaking or writing?
  2. What points of view are being expressed in the materials under review?
  3. How do these sources add to your understanding of the strike?
  4. This section presents examples of reporting on the strike from five nationally circulated periodicals.  How do these articles depict the strike and the people of eastern Kentucky?  Do you think the coverage is fair?  Why?  Cite passages from the articles as evidence.

Dwight Billings, Professor of Sociology and Appalachian Studies, and Kate Black, Curator of the Appalachian Collection, discuss how the national media was used during the strike as each side attempted to gain control of the narrative.

nytbuskids

The New York Times, March 26, 1932.  p. 15

beans

 

The New York Times, November 9, 1931.  p. 19

eandh

Herndon J. Evans Collection, 1929-1982, 82M1; Box 2 Folder 13; Special Collections, University of Kentucky Libraries, Lexington

Used with the permission of Editor & Publisher.

forum

Herndon J. Evans Collection, 1929-1982, 82M1; Box 2 Folder 10; Special Collections, University of Kentucky Libraries, Lexington

nation

 

Herndon J. Evans Collection, 1929-1982, 82M1; Box 2 Folder 11; Special Collections, University of Kentucky Libraries, Lexington

newrepublic

Herndon J. Evans Collection, 1929-1982, 82M1; Box 2 Folder 16; Special Collections, University of Kentucky Libraries, Lexington

Used with the permission of Robert Cowley, Copyright the Literary Estate of Malcom Cowley.  

toothpick

 

Herndon J. Evans Collection, 1929-1982, 82M1; Box 1, Folder 2; Special Collections, University of Kentucky Libraries, Lexington

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