Hutchins Library
Special Collections & Archives
Guide to the Appalachian Volunteers Records, History
 

Accession Number: 2
The Appalachian Volunteers Records
Papers: 1963-1971
Linear Feet 58.4
Online Catalog Record (BANC)


Overview & Series Description
History
Series I - CSM-AV Planning Records
Series II - CSM-AV Planning Meetings and Conferences
Series III - CSM-AV Programs - Activity Plans and Reports
Series IV - CSM-AV Correspondence and Memos- Perley F. Ayer
Series V - CSM-AV Dissension
Series VI - AV Organizational Records Following Separation From CSM
Series VII - AV Board, Staff and Regional Meetings, Staff Lists
Series VIII - AV Activity Reports
Series IX - AV Internal Dissension
Series X - Evaluation Reports on AV Program
Series XI - CSM-AV Government Contracts
Series XII - AV- Project Proposals for Grant Funding
Series XIII - CSM-AV Foundation Contracts
Series XIV - CSM-AV General and Correspondence Files
Series XV - CSM-AV Individual Staff Files
Series XVI - AV Bristol- Prestonburg General Office Files
Series XVII - AV Projects
        Boxes 70-87 | Boxes 88-102 | Boxes 103-114
Series XVIII - AV- Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA)
Series XIX - AV- Library for Community Action Styles (LCAS)
Series XX - AV- Outpost-Intern Education Program
Series XXI - AV- Publications
Series XXII - AV- Publicity
Series XXIII - AV Audio-Visual Materials
Part II

History

The Appalachian Volunteers organization grew out of efforts in 1963 by Kennedy White House staff to begin pilot projects in Appalachia which might serve as models for broader-scale anti-poverty efforts. With the aid of a small federal grant, the Berea based Council of the Southern Mountains mounted a project that emphasized the use of volunteers.

Council staffers, Milton Ogle and Philip Conn, organized a board of directors and recruited eastern Kentucky college students to work in one and two-room schools. These volunteers painted and repaired school buildings, taught enrichment classes, and conducted tutoring programs. The staff involved school boards, parents and other community leaders, in an effort to stimulate a "self-help" frame-of-mind among community members.

President Johnson's call for a "war on poverty" and the passage of the Economic Opportunity Act in 1964 opened the way for the CSM to receive additional funding with which to expand the pilot project. Additional staff were hired and many additional student volunteers were recruited, particularly from Appalachian colleges and those in the east and north. During the summers large groups of volunteers from throughout the country were trained and sent to communities in eastern Kentucky, southwest Virginia, West Virginia and east Tennessee.

The Appalachian Volunteer project became an independent entity in May 1966. AV staff resigned en masse from the CSM, incorporated as a non-profit organization and negotiated for funding from the Office of Economic Opportunity. This action resulted mainly from internal ideological differences regarding the extent to which the organization should get directly involved in controversial social and economic issues. Part of this realignment included moving offices to Bristol, Tennessee, a more central location for the AVs wide-ranging operations. Key staff members at that time included Daniel Fox and Jack Rivel. Milton Ogle continued as director of the program until 1968 when David Walls assumed that position.

Appalachian Volunteer projects such as Books for Appalachia, school renovation, and tutoring efforts were non-controversial. However, the group's involvement with such touchy issues as strip-mining, corrupt local politics, and fraudulent welfare practices put them at odds with some of their target communities and the local, state and federal government agencies with which they worked. This involvement included informing poor people of their legal rights and means of redressing grievances, and helping to form grassroots political and economic organizations to achieve these goals.

There were a number of issues that arose which undermined the organization's effectiveness in many communities. These included sedition charges brought against a Volunteer in Kentucky and internal staff problems throughout 1967-68. Under pressure from state and local governments, the U.S. Office of Economic Opportunity began a series of investigations which eventually resulted in a partial cutback, then full loss of funding by the end of 1968. The result of this action was yet another move, this time to Prestonsburg, Kentucky. There with private funding, severely restricted operations continued until 1971, when the organization ceased to exist.

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