Harry M. Caudill Collection, 1956-1990
0.8 linear ft.
Series I - Newspaper Clippings
Series II - Correspondence
Series III - Biographical
Series IV - Works
Series V - Photographs
2 Manuscript Boxes
Access and Use
Preferred citation: The Harry M. Caudill Collection, Berea
College Special Collections & Archives, Berea, Ky.
The collection is composed of 2 manuscript boxes, primarily containing newspaper
clippings and magazine articles.
Related College Archives:
Born in 1922, Harry M. Caudill grew up in the coal fields of Letcher County,
Kentucky, with a zest for history and reading. After being seriously wounded
in Italy during World War II, Caudill went to the University of Kentucky Law
School. While at UK, he met Anne Frye, whom he married in 1946. Caudill later
practiced law in Whitesburg, in Letcher County, and held some local political
offices, in addition to a seat in the Kentucky House of Representatives.
However, it was with Caudill's 1963 book, Night Comes to the Cumberlands:
A Biography of a Depressed Area, that the Eastern Kentucky lawyer's life
took a slightly different turn. One of the first works to closely examine
Eastern Kentucky, Night looked at the area's past and present, and
predicted a grim future. Particularly, the author described the role of the
coal companies, the effects of strip mining and the poor conditions in which
Eastern Kentucky people were living, learning and working. In later years,
Caudill's theory of a poor gene pool among Scotch-Irish and German descendants
in the Kentucky mountains became very controversial. However, the book was
and is a very influential work on Eastern Kentucky, affecting local and national
government through individuals ranging from President Kennedy to Kentucky
governors and Appalachian writers such as Denise Giardina.
After retiring from practicing law, Caudill wrote 6 more books, more than
80 articles, and many editorials in the local Whitesburg paper, The
Mountain Eagle. He delivered frequent speeches on strip mining and other
Eastern Kentucky issues. Experiencing increasing pain from the leg injury he
suffered in WWII and facing the prolonged effects of Parkinson's Disease, Caudill
shot himself on the afternoon of November 29, 1990.
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