Appalachian Christmas: Reccomended Books and DVDs

WHEN MINERS MARCH is the incredible story of the battles to bring the UMWA and the American Constitution to the West Virginia coal fields. Written back in ‘52 when Blair Mountain hero Bill Blizzard was still alive, this work by his writer/photographer son, William C. Blizzard sat unpublished for over half a century! Pictures and rare documents have been added to the original text to make for a great read. Autographed copies(while he lasts–W.C. is 90 now) are $24, an 8 CD set(including a superb sound track) $29, just the music $16. Prices include tax and shipping. Order from ACS, 229 Birtrice Rd., Gay, WV , 25244

HEALING APPALACHIA is the first book to apply “appropriate technology,” or the simplest level of technology that can effectively achieve the desired result, specifically to the Appalachian region. The authors examine thirty low-cost, people-friendly, and environmentally benign appropriate technologies that are concerned with such issues as food preservation, land use, shelter, and transportation. They pay close attention to the practicality of each technique according to affordability, ease of use, and ecological soundness. Details on construction and maintenance and resources for locating further information are included, making this an essential volume for everyone who cares about the future of Appalachia. By Al Fritsch and Paul Gallimore., $35

WE MAKE CHANGE explores the world of community organizing through the voices of real people working in the field, in small towns and city neighborhoods–women and men of different races and economic backgrounds, ranging in age from those in their twenties to those in their sixties. Fourteen in-depth profiles tell the life stories of a cross-section of the diverse people who choose the life of an organizer. Other chapters, focused on issues of organizing, are tapestries of experience woven from the 81 interviews the authors conducted. By Kristin Layng Szakos and Joe Szakos,, $27.50

THE MARBLE and Other Ghost Tales of Tennessee and Virginia tells the stories of 22 ghosts, including those said to be haunting the streets of picturesque towns like Abingdon, Virginia, and Jonesborough, Tennessee. By Joe Tennis, Backyard Books. $5.99 from

1977 (2007) 55 mins, Omni Productions.
Using his own funds, Robert Gates, a former chemical/computer engineer at Union Carbide in Charleston, traveled throughout West Virginia, Appalachia, and the country, filming the effects of strip mining coal. The film has no narration, only the voices of people whose land and lives have been affected by this practice. It was shown to the U.S. Congress and helped motivate national legislative regulation of strip mining. The film, now available on DVD, has won many awards and has been shown all over the U.S. Access: Omni Productions, Box 5130 Charleston, WV 25361, phone (304)342 2624;

GODS GIFT OF A WILD AND WONDERFUL LAND 2007 18 mins. Patchwork Films — Using stunning photography and beautiful religious music, the Monongahela National Forest is presented as a wilderness area that must be preserved for future generations. The forest is more than 900,000 acres in size, located in 10 different counties. Facts about the forest and Biblical links are emphasized along with an appreciation of God’s creation. Viewers are encouraged to contact national and state legislators in support of protecting West Virginia wilderness areas.
Access: Patchwork Films at

Appalachian Christmas: A Reading List
Christmas in the mountains : southwest Virginia Christmas customs and their origins, by Hubert J. Davis ; illustrated by Carolee Jackson Murfreesboro, N.C. : Johnson Pub. Co., c1972
A Foxfire Christmas: Appalachian Memories and Traditions by Elliot Wiggins, UNC Press 1989
The Dollmaker, by Harriette Arnow, Avon Books, 1954 The classic story of an Appalachian family which is forced to uproot and move to Detroit during World War II. Also a 1983 movie staring Jane Fonda, available on VHS.
My side of the mountain, Jean Craighead George New York, Dutton, 1959
The year of the perfect Christmas tree: an Appalachian Story, by Gloria Houston, Penguin 1988
The Angel Doll: A Christmas Story, by Jerry Bledsoe, St Martin’s Press, 1996.
Appalachian Christmas Stories. By James Gifford Owen B. Nance, and Patricia A. Hall, Ashland, KY: The Jesse Stuart Foundation, 1997. This collection contains short stories, essays and nonfiction memoirs, and poetry, by Jesse Stuart, Loyal Jones, Harry M. Caudill, Jim Wayne Miller, Marlin W. Blaine and others.
Plastic Santa, and Other Stories. By Mary Bozeman Hodges, Tellico Books, 2003. This collection of Christmas stories is set in the Appalachian mountains of Tennessee.

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