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Rabun Gap, Georgia
Appalachian Youth Preserve Their Heritage
Students document Arie Carpenter making corn shuck brooms, c. 1975, using cameras purchased with an NEH grant. Image courtesy of the Foxfire Center.

In 1966, a high school English class in Rabun Gap, Georgia wrote its own unusual assignment: instead of studying literature and writing papers, the students would interview residents of their Appalachian community and publish the results. The assignment established The Foxfire Magazine, a periodical that has been in production since 1967 and that records the region’s history and way of life. Early support from the NEH helped Foxfire hire its first employees and purchase equipment that was essential to the development of the project. For instance, a cassette recorder that ran on batteries helped students access and preserve the voices of the many people in the region who lived without electricity. Their work led to New York Times best-selling anthologies, 20 of which are still in print; a Tony-award winning play; and a living history heritage center in Mountain City, Georgia that the students built themselves after purchasing the land with their publishing royalties.

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