A Guide to the Earl Palmer Appalachian Photograph and Artifact Collection 1880-1989 Palmer, Earl, Appalachian Photograph and Artifact Collection Ms89-025

A Guide to the Earl Palmer Appalachian Photograph and Artifact Collection 1880-1989

A Collection in
Special Collections
Collection Number Ms89-025


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Special Collections, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Special Collections
University Libraries
P.O. Box 90001
Virginia Tech
Blacksburg, Virginia 24062-9001
USA
Phone: (540) 231-6308
Fax: (540) 231-3694
Email: specref@vt.edu
URL: http://spec.lib.vt.edu/

© 2003 By Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Processed by: John M. Jackson, Special Collections Staff

Repository
Special Collections, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Collection number
Ms89-025
Title
Earl Palmer Appalachain Photograph and Artifact Collection 1880-1989
Physical Characteristics
This collection consists of approximately 12,000 photographs and artifacts.
Language
English

Administrative Information

Access

There are no restrictions.

Use Restrictions

Permission to publish material from the Earl Palmer Appalachian Photograph and Artifact Collection must be obtained from the Special Collections, Virginia Tech.

Preferred Citation

Earl Palmer Appalachian Photograph and Artifact Collection, Ms89-025 - Special Collections, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

Acquisition Information

The Palmer Collection was donated jointly to the Appalachian Collection of the University Libraries and the Appalachian Studies Program at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in 1989.

Alternative Form

The Special Collections Imagebase contains digital images of both photosand artifactsin the collection.

Processing Information

The re-processing, arrangement and description of the photographs and accompanying papers commenced in July 2002 and was completed in October 2002.


Biographical/Historical Information

Earl Palmer, an Appalachian photographer, was born in Bell County (some sources claim Harlan County), Kentucky, on May 11, 1905. The son of traveling circus performers, Palmer's interest in photography began when he received a camera as a gift at age 7. After high school, Palmer took a job with a local A&P grocery store. By the time he was 19, Palmer was managing the store and was soon employed by A&P as a road supervisor, overseeing 18 stores. Meanwhile, his photos were appearing in local newspapers and were soon being seen in numerous travel magazines.

Around 1945, Palmer moved with his first wife, Alice, to Cambria, Virginia (now part of Christiansburg), where he opened a grocery store. By this time, Palmer's photos were being featured in such magazines as Life,National Geographic,and the Saturday Evening Post.Billing himself the "Blue Ridge Mountains' Roamin' Camera Man", Palmer concentrated on the people and places of Appalachia, particularly the region's traditional culture. Though based in southwestern Virginia, Palmer traveled the mountain regions of Tennessee, North Carolina, Kentucky and West Virginia in search of subjects.

By 1954, Palmer had been elected mayor of Cambria, and he would serve in that capacity until the town's merger with Christiansburg in 1964. In 1972, he retired from the grocery business to devote more time to photography. During his many trips, Palmer also collected a number of artifacts associated with traditional mountain life, including wagon wheels, handicrafts, a moonshine still and tools.

In 1982, Palmer married Evelyn Chrisman; he died at his home on March 4, 1996.

Scope and Content Information

This collection contains the photographs of Earl Palmer, an award-winning photographer from Cambria, Virginia, whose work depicted the landscape and traditional culture of rural Appalachia in Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia. The collection is divided among the following series: photographs, duplicate photographs, written materials, and oversize photographs.

The Photographs series contains approximately 750 photos taken by Palmer from the 1940s through the 1970s. Palmer's photos document the landscape and traditional culture of Appalachia in the Virginia- Tennessee-North Carolina-Kentucky-West Virginia region and include depictions of artisans, moonshiners, coal miners and scenes from daily life in rural Appalachia. Many of the photos are accompanied by descriptions written by Palmer. The photographs are arranged by topic, with numerous cross-references directing the user to appropriate headings.

Duplicate Photos are arranged by the same subject headings used in arranging the original photographs. While there are multiple copies of some photos, others have only one duplicate, and many have none.

The Written Materials, very few in number, range in date from 1946 to 1976. Including such materials as photo descriptions, bits of correspondence and notes, postcards and printed material, this series is arranged by document type.

The Oversize Photos series consists of items which were too large to be inter-filed in the Photographs series.

The Artifacts series contains materials, collected by Palmer, which are associated with traditional Appalachian folk culture. The series includes such items as a moonshine still, wagon wheels, ox yokes and hand-made brooms, as well as items associated with coal mining and railroading. Also included is a small collection of cameras and photography equipment.

Description of Series

I. Photographs. This collection of Palmer's photographs spans from the 1940s to the 1970s and is arranged alphabetically by subject matter. A number of cross-references have been included to lead users to valid subject headings.

II. Duplicate Photos. Duplicate copies of those photos found in the Photographs Series, these photos are also arranged alphabetically by the same headings used in describing the original photos. Note that while there are multiple copies of some photos, there are no duplicate copies for others

III. Written Materials. This series includes a small set of papers related to Palmer's photographic work and includes photo blurbs, correspondence and notes, and postcards and other printed material.

IV. Oversize Materials. This series contains photos which were too large to be filed with those in the Photographs series.

V. Artifacts. The Artifacts series contains materials, collected by Palmer, which are associated with traditional Appalachian folk culture. The series includes such items as a moonshine still, wagon wheels, ox yokes and hand-made brooms, as well as items associated with coal mining and railroading. Also included is a small collection of cameras and photography equipment. [Note: The materials in this series are currently held by the university's Appalachian Studies Program and are housed in Solitude. While the material descriptions are arranged here by subject matter, the items themselves are not so arranged.]

Contents List

Photographs
  • Box 1:1
    Alice Lloyd College
    8 images
  • Box 1:1
    Amburgey, Jethro
    4 images
  • Box 1:2
    Animals
    22 images. 2 folders
  • Box 1:3
    Apple Butter-making
    10 images

    see also Hylton, Newton

  • Box 1:3
    Apple Cider-making
    3 images
  • Box 1:4
    Auctions (Montgomery County, Virginia)
    1 image
  • Box 1:4
    Ausmus, Frank farm (Powell Valley, Tennessee)

    see Farms and Farming

  • Box 1:4
    Baskets and Basket-making
    8 images
  • Box 1:4
    Bee Hunting
    3 images
  • Box 1:4
    Belcher, Dale
    1 image
  • Box 1:5
    Berea College
    12 items
  • Box 1:6
    Berea College - Student Industries
    9 images
  • Box 1:7
    Bicentennial Wagon Train
    1 image
  • Box 1:7
    Big Black Mountain (Kentucky)
    1 image
  • Box 1:7
    Blue Ridge Parkway
    6 images

    see also Moonshine and Moonshiners; Rail Fences

  • Box 1:8
    Bookmobile (Montgomery Co., Virginia)
    17 images. 2 folders.
  • Box 1:9
    Boone, Daniel monument (Kentucky)
    1 image
  • Box 1:9
    Boyd, Glyndon
    1 image
  • Box 1:9
    Boyd, Turner
    3 image
  • Box 1:9
    Bridges
    6 images
  • Box 1:10
    Buildings, Unidentified
    7 images

    see also Groups, Unidentified

  • Box 1:11
    Cabins
    18 images. 2 folders

    see also Postcards and Printed Material; Oversize

  • Box 1:11
    Photos
  • Box 1:12
    Cambria, Virginia
    5 images
  • Box 1:13
    Camping
    10 images

    see also Cumberland Falls State Park; Fishing

  • Box 1:14
    Canals
    8 images

    see also Trains; Tunnels

  • Box 1:14
    Canoeing
    1 image
  • Box 2:1
    Caves
    4 images

    see also Mammoth Cave National Park

  • Box 2:1
    Cemeteries
    3 images
  • Box 2:1
    Cherokee Indian Reservation (Cherokee, North Carolina)
    3 images
  • Box 2:2
    Children, Unidentified
    9 images
  • Box 2:2
    Christiansburg Baseball Team
    1 image
  • Box 2:3
    Churches
    5 items

    see also Stotesbury (West Virginia)

  • Box 2:3
    Churchill Downs (Louisville, Kentucky)

    see Horse Racing

  • Box 2:4
    Coal Mining - Miners
    14 images
  • Box 2:5
    Coal Mining - Sites and Buildings
    5 images

    see also Trains

  • Box 2:6
    Coal Mining - Exhibition Mines and Museums
    30 images. 3 folders
  • Box 2:7
    Cockram, Buren
    1 image
  • Box 2:7
    Cockram, Lincoln
    1 image
  • Box 2:7
    Conrad, Lula
    2 images
  • Box 2:7
    Country Stores
    2 images

    see also Elvie Shelton's Store; Palmer's Market

  • Box 2:7
    Court Day (Franklin Co., Virginia)
    2 images
  • Box 2:8
    Craft Fairs
    10 images
  • Box 2:9
    Crafts
    13 images

    see also Baskets and Basket-making; Berea College - Student Industries; Craft Fairs; Craftsmen; Kingdom Come Swappin' Meetin'; Soap-making

  • Box 2:10
    Craftsmen, Unidentified
    6 images

    see also Berea College - Student Industries; Craft Fairs

  • Box 2:10
    Cumberland Falls State Park
    6 images
  • Box 2:11
    Cumberland Gap National Park
    13 images
  • Box 2:12
    Cupp, Thomas Jefferson
    4 images

    see also Cabins

  • Box 2:12
    Decoy School
    1 image
  • Box 2:12
    Dehart, Theodore "Ted"

    see Moonshine and Moonshiners

  • Box 2:12
    Doe Hill (Virginia)
    1 image
  • Box 2:12
    Duncan, Rufus
    1 image
  • Box 2:12
    Evie Shelton's Store (Floyd Co., Virginia)
    3 images
  • Box 2:13
    Farms and Farming
    14 images

    see also Cockram, Buren; Hylton, Newton; Virginia Tech Farm

  • Box 2:14
    Fighting Creek Gap (Tennessee)
    1 image
  • Box 2:14
    Fire Engine, Antique (Pigeon Forge, Tennessee)
    1 image
  • Box 2:14
    Fire Lookout Tower
    1 image
  • Box 3:1
    Fishing
    51 images. 5 folders

    see also Camping

  • Box 3:2
    Flowers
    4 images

    see also Garnett, Joe

  • Box 3:2
    Folk Dances
    6 images
  • Box 3:2
    Food

    see Apple Butter-making; Bee Hunting; Conrad, Lula; Maple Sugar

  • Box 3:3
    Fox, John Jr. home (Big Stone Gap, Virginia)
    1 image
  • Box 3:3
    Frontier Land Amusement Park (Cherokee, North Carolina)
    9 images

    see also Palmer, Earl

  • Box 3:4
    Frontier Nursing Service
    3 images
  • Box 3:4
    Game Preserves
    1 image
  • Box 3:4
    Garnard, Harold
    2 images
  • Box 3:5
    Garnett, Joe
    11 images
  • Box 3:5
    Ginseng
    1 image
  • Box 3:6
    Golf Courses (1 of 2)
    10 images
  • Box 3:7
    Golf Courses (2 of 2)
    10 images
  • Box 3:8
    Groups, Unidentified
    19 images. 2 folders

    see also Weddings

  • Box 3:8
    Groups, Unidentified
  • Box 3:9
  • Box 3:9
    Hash, Goode
    3 images
  • Box 3:9
    Horse Racing
    2 images
  • Box 3:9
    Horseback Riding
    2 images
  • Box 4:1
    Hylton, Newton
    35 images. 3 folders
  • Box 4:2
    Individuals, Unidentified
    18 images. 2 folders
  • Box 4:3
  • Box 4:3
    Jackson's Ferry Shot Tower
    1 image
  • Box 4:3
    Kentucky Parks
    5 images

    see also Cumberland Gap National Park; Cumberland Falls State Park; Kingdom Come State Park; Mammoth Cave National Park; Natural Bridge State Park; Pine Mountain State Park Kingdom Come State Park (Cumberland, Kentucky) [3 images]

  • Box 4:4
    Kingdom Come Swappin' Meetin'
    4 images
  • Box 4:4
    Kuralt, Charles and Earl Palmer
    1 image
  • Box 4:4
    Lake Junealuska (North Carolina)
    1 image
  • Box 4:4
    Lincoln Memorial University (Middlesboro, Kentucky)
    3 images
  • Box 4:4
    Little Shepherd Trail (Kentucky)
    2 images
  • Box 4:5
    Logging
    1 image

    see also Williams, Jack "Piney"

  • Box 4:5
    "The Long Way Home"
    15 images
  • Box 4:5
    Mabry Mill (Virginia)
    1 image

    see also Hylton, Newton

  • Box 4:6
    Mammoth Cave National Park
    1 image
  • Box 4:6
    Maple Sugar
    4 images
  • Box 4:6
    Marshall, Belle
    1 image
  • Box 4:6
    McCarter, Fred
    5 images
  • Box 4:7
    McDowell Battlefield
    1 image
  • Box 4:7
    Melrose Cavern (Lacy Spring, Virginia)

    see Caves

  • Box 4:7
    Middlesboro, Kentucky
    2 images
  • Box 4:7
    Mills and Milling
    4 images

    see also Farms and Farming; Mabry Mill (Virginia); Marshall, Belle

  • Box 4:7
    Ministers
    6 images
  • Box 4:8
    Montgomery County (Virginia) Courthouse
    2 images
  • Box 4:8
    Montgomery County (Virginia) Regional Hospital
    1 image
  • Box 4:9
    Moonshine and Moonshiners
    16 images. 2 folders

    see also Cabins; Cockram, Lincoln; Oversize Photos

  • Box 4:10
    Mount Vernon (Virginia)
    3 images
  • Box 4:11
    Mountain Views
    14 images

    see also Cumberland Gap National Park; Peaks of Otter (Virginia); Shenandoah National Park; Smoky Mountains

  • Box 5:1
    Mullein
    1 image
  • Box 5:1
    Natural Arch (Cumberland National Forest, Kentucky)
    1 image
  • Box 5:1
    Natural Bridge State Park (Kentucky)
    2 images
  • Box 5:1
    Nuts and Nutcracking
    2 images
  • Box 5:1
    Palmer, Earl
    7 images

    see also Kuralt, Charles and Rakes, Walter

  • Box 5:2
    Palmer's Market (Montgomery Co., Virginia)
    1 image
  • Box 5:2
    Parades
    1 image
  • Box 5:2
    Peaks of Otter (Virginia)
    2 images
  • Box 5:2
    Pine Mountain Settlement School
    2 images
  • Box 5:2
    Pine Mountain State Park
    3 images
  • Box 5:2
    Poly-Scientific
    2 images
  • Box 5:3
    Quilts and Quilting
    9 images
  • Box 5:3
    Radarscope (Black Mountain, Kentucky)
  • Box 5:4
    Radio Telescope (Green Bank, West Virginia)
    1 image
  • Box 5:4
    Rail Fences
    5 images

    see also Hylton, Newton

  • Box 5:4
    Rakes, Walter "Goode" and Earl Palmer
    1 image
  • Box 5:5
    Relics
    8 images

    see also Crafts; Farms and Farming; Hylton, Newton; Kingdom Come Swappin' Meetin'

  • Box 5:6
    Riverboats
    4 images
  • Box 5:6
    Rivers and Streams
    4 images

    see also Fishing

  • Box 5:7
    Rock Formations
    10 images

    see also Cumberland Falls State Park; Cumberland Gap National Park; Kingdom Come State Park (Cumberland, Kentucky); Peaks of Otter (Virginia); Rivers and Streams; Seneca Rocks (West Virginia); Natural Arch; Sky Bridge

  • Box 5:8
    Scenery
    3 images
  • Box 5:8
    School Groups
    2 images

    see also Decoy School; Pine Mountain Settlement School

  • Box 5:8
    Seneca Rocks (West Virginia)
    2 images
  • Box 5:8
    Shelton's Store (Floyd Co., Virginia) - see Evie Shelton's Store (Floyd Co., Virginia)
  • Box 5:8
    Shenandoah National Park
    1 image
  • Box 5:8
    Shot Tower (Wytheville, Virginia) - see Jackson's Ferry Shot Tower
  • Box 5:8
    Shows
    4 images

    see also Frontier Land Amusement Park (Cherokee, North Carolina); "The Long Way Home;" Kingdom Come Swappin' Meetin'; "Singin' on the Mountain"

  • Box 5:9
    "Singin' on the Mountain"
    1 image
  • Box 5:9
    Sky Bridge
    1 image
  • Box 5:9
    Smoky Mountains
    4 images

    see also Fighting Creek Gap (Tennessee); Golf Courses

  • Box 5:9
    Soap-making
    2 images
  • Box 5:9
    Square Dancing
    1 image
  • Box 5:9
    Stagecoaches
    1 image
  • Box 5:9
    Steffey's Wharf (Hancock, Maryland) - see Canals
  • Box 5:9
  • Box 5:10
    Still, James
    1 image
  • Box 5:10
    Stotesbury (West Virginia)
    2 images
  • Box 5:10
    Stuart, Jesse
    5 images
  • Box 5:10
    Sutphin, Bobby and Alice
    1 image
  • Box 5:10
    Telephone Switchboard
    1 image
  • Box 5:11
    Trains
    10 images
  • Box 5:12
    Trees
    7 images

    see also Rail Fences

  • Box 5:12
    Tunnels
    2 images

    see also Blue Ridge Parkway

  • Box 5:13
    Virginia Tech Farm
    1 image
  • Box 5:13
    Waterfalls
    6 images

    see also Fishing; Rivers and Streams; Postcards and Printed Material

  • Box 5:14
    Weddings (1 of 2)
    13 images
  • Box 5:15
    Weddings (2 of 2)
    12 images
  • Box 5:16
    Williams, Jack "Piney"
    2 images
  • Box 5:16
    DUPLICATE PHOTOS
Duplicate Photos
  • Box 6:1-6
    Animals - Bee Hunting
  • Box 6:1-6
    Berea College - Bridges
  • Box 6:1-6
    Cabins - Churches
  • Box 6:1-6
    Coal Mining
    2 folders
  • Box 6:1-6
    Country Stores - Cumberland Falls State Park
  • Box 6:1-6
    Cumberland Gap National Park - Fire Lookout Tower
  • Box 6:7-15
    Fishing
    3 folders
  • Box 6:7-15
    Flowers - Frontier Land Amusement Park (Cherokee, North Carolina)
  • Box 6:7-15
    Garnett, Joe - Golf Courses
  • Box 6:7-15
    Groups, Unidentified
  • Box 6:7-15
    Horseback Riding - Kingdom Come State Park
  • Box 6:7-15
    Kingdom Come Swappin' Meetin' - Ministers
  • Box 6:7-15
    Mountain Views - Riverboats
  • Box 6:7-15
    Rivers and Streams - Stotesbury, West Virginia
  • Box 6:7-15
    Trains - Williams, Jack "Piney"
Written Materials
  • Box 7:1
    Photo Captions and Blurbs, n.d.
  • Box 7:2
    Correspondence and Notes, 1958-1976, n.d.
  • Box 7:3
    Postcards and Printed Material, 1965-1974, n.d.
Oversize Photos
  • Box 8:1
    Cabins
    2 images
  • Box 8:1
    Moonshine and moonshiners
    2 images
Artifacts
  • Cameras and photographic equipment
    • Ansco Sureshot camera
    • Brownie box camera
    • Camera bag, leather
    • Flash lamp
    • Kodak Duaflex camera
    • Kodak-Medalist camera
    • Lumiere dry plate
    • Moviegraph camera, large
    • Spool of film
  • Coal mining
    • Breast auger
    • Miner's cap
    • Miner's cap with carbide lamp
    • Miner's pick-axe
  • Crafts
    • Bear on tree, carved
    • Fan, turkey feather
    • Figure at well, wood-carved
    • Figure with churn, wood-carved
    • Folk toy
    • Horse and pig, cornstalk carvings
    • Mabry Mill model (carved by Newton Hylton)
    • Man and son going to mill, wood-carved doll
    • Owl, feather on wood
  • Farming materials
    • Barn wood (4 or more pieces)
    • Barrels, small, wood (2)
    • Horse collars (2)
    • Horseshoes, rusted
    • Lantern, large
    • Ox yoke, large (carved by Newton Hylton)
    • Ox yokes, medium (Newton Hylton) (2)
    • Ox yokes, small (Newton Hylton) (2)
    • Plow
    • Plow points, iron (2)
    • Rake, wooden
    • Saddle, leather
    • Stirrups (2)
    • Wagon hubs (2)
    • Wagon lamp, Conestoga
    • Wagon pieces (singletrees, etc.) (at least 9)
    • Wagon seat
    • Wagon wheels (2)
    • Water mill wheel center, wooden
    • Wood maul (Newton Hylton)
  • Furniture
    • Bench, wooden
    • Chair with caned seat, small, carved
    • Rocking chair and footstool (handmade)
  • Houseware
    • Andirons (hand-forged by Newton Hylton) (3)
    • Baskets, oak (Lera Rake) (4)
    • Broom, straw
    • Coal bucket
    • Edison cylinder
    • Hearth brooms, reed (made by Goode Hash) (4)
    • Kettle, copper
    • Medicine bottles
    • Octagon Soap
    • Shoe lathe on wood block
    • Snuff jar
    • Spinning wheel
    • Wash pot, iron (2)
    • Washtub, iron
  • Kitchenware and Foodstuffs
    • Berea sugars
      4 boxes
    • Cheese boxes (6)
    • Cheese cutter
    • Coffee grinder
    • Coffee pot, spatterware
    • Crock, brown and white, cracked
    • Crock jugs (2)
    • Dough board
    • Frying pan, iron
    • Honey, jar
    • Mason jars
    • Meat grinder, large, iron
    • Meat grinders, small (2)
    • Rolling pin, large, wooden
    • Sausage grinder lid, rusted
  • Personal articles
    • Golf clubs (2)
    • Pipe tobacco can, Prince Albert
    • Sunbonnet, red
    • Walking stick, hand-carved
  • Railroads
    • Rail pieces (5)
    • Railroad lanterns, blue and clear glass (2)
    • Railroad spikes (5)
    • Saucer and bowl, Norfolk & Western Railway
    • Spoons, Norfolk & Western Railway (3)
  • Schools
    • School desk
    • School slate, cracked
    • School water barrels (2)
  • Signs
    • Cambria
    • Palmer's market
    • Trail of the Lonesome Pine
  • Miscellaneous
    • Adding machine and stand
    • Cambria car tag
    • Coca-Cola six-bottle holder
    • Courthouse vault window glasses (2)
    • Gas can, rusted
    • Hornets nests (2)
    • Leather, tanned
      1 piece
    • Moonshine still
      2 large barrels, copper kettle; thumpkeg; copper worm; copper bottom, copper mash pot