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UK Libraries to Digitize Appalachian Records of Public Health, Housing, Community Development

by Whitney Hale

(Dec. 16, 2014) — The Council on Library and Information Resources has announced the recipients of the 2014 Cataloging Hidden Collections Grants. A project from University of Kentucky Libraries was one out of 19 that were selected from a pool of 92 proposals submitted for grants. Award recipients will create web-accessible records according to standards that will enable the federation of their local cataloging entries into larger groups of related records, enabling the broadest possible exposure to the scholarly community.Council on Library and Information Resources

The UK Libraries grant project, "Action in Appalachia: Revealing Public Health, Housing, and Community Development Records in the UK Libraries Special Collections Research Center," was awarded a $156,439 grant. Led by principal investigators Deirdre Scaggs, associate dean of Special Collections, and Ruth Bryan, UK archivist, this two-year project will result in 645 cubic feet of fully processed Appalachian records comprising seven hidden collections of War on Poverty-era, social justice organizational records.

These community-driven groups worked to improve public health, housing, education and economic development from the 1960s to the present by taking action in Appalachia. The collections that will be made available as a result of this grant include: 

  • Eastern Kentucky Health Services Inc. (EKHS);
  • Eastern Kentucky Housing Development Corporation (EKHDC);
  • Appalachian Leadership and Community Outreach Inc. (ALCOR);
  • Commission on Religion in Appalachia (CORA);
  • Federation of Appalachian Housing Enterprises Inc. (FAHE);
  • Marketing Appalachia's Traditional Community Handcrafts (MATCH); and
  • Human/Economic Appalachian Development Corporation (HEAD). 

Accessibility to these collections will contribute to new scholarship and public understanding about the social and economic development of Appalachia.

Records featured in "Action in Appalachia" are a part of the Bert T. Combs Appalachian Collection, which is housed at UK Libraries Special Collections Research Center. It comprises more than 3,000 linear feet of primary source material relating to the history, culture and development of Eastern Kentucky and the Central Appalachian region. It is one of the premiere collecting areas in the center and is among the highest in demand for researchers across the United States and beyond.

UK Special Collections Research Center is home to UK Libraries' collection of rare books, Kentuckiana, the Archives, the Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, the King Library Press, the Wendell H. Ford Public Policy Research Center, the Bert T. Combs Appalachian collection and the digital library, ExploreUK. The mission of the center is to locate and preserve materials documenting the social, cultural, economic and political history of the Commonwealth of Kentucky.