Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Sidney S. Farr, August 17, 1993

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:04 - Family background

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Partial Transcript: Okay, um, now this is March eleventh.

Segment Synopsis: Sydney Farr is introduced. She discusses her family background including her mother and father's jobs, her educational background, and getting married. [Significant background noise may make interview hard to hear]

Keywords: Coal mining; Farming; Fathers; Married; Mothers; Poor; Schools

Subjects: Bell County (Ky.); Families.

00:05:36 - Getting her high school diploma from a correspondence school

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Partial Transcript: Uh, I always had a desire to read.

Segment Synopsis: Farr talks about why she decided to get her degree through a correspondence school. She talks about the difficulty she had completing it. She talks about visiting Berea College and then moving to Indianapolis. She discusses having two of her books published.

Keywords: Correspondence schools; Husbands; Independence; Indianapolis (Ind.); Jobs; Money; Published; Writing

Subjects: Berea College; Education

00:14:21 - Working for the Council of the Southern Mountains

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Partial Transcript: And I didn't want to go back to Stoney Fork.

Segment Synopsis: Farr talks about moving to Berea, Kentucky to work for the Council of the Southern Mountains. She discusses the beginnings of the organization and the quarterly publication for the group, 'Mountain Life & Work'. She talks about various people who worked for the organization. [Significant background noise may make interview hard to hear]

Keywords: Appalachian Volunteers (AVs); Associate editors; Commissions; Communication; Community action; Conferences; Council of the Southern Mountains (CSM); Mountain Life & Work; Publications; Staff

Subjects: Berea College; Jones, Loyal, 1928-

00:23:35 - Meeting local writers

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Partial Transcript: And then working for the council I met--I began to meet the regional writers like Jesse Stewart.

Segment Synopsis: Farr talks about the people she has met through her work with the Council of the Southern Mountains including author Jesse Stewart. She talks about how her experiences of Appalachian poverty differed from what was being discussed. She compares moving from Appalachia to Berea to immigrants bridging the gap between their home country and their new country. [Significant background noise may make interview hard to hear]

Keywords: Appalachian community; Authors; Council of the Southern Mountains (CSM); Immigrants; Jesse Stewart; Writers

Subjects: Berea College; Poverty--Appalachian Region

00:27:52 - Graduating from Berea College / feelings about the opportunity to work for the Council of the Southern Mountains

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Partial Transcript: But really the main reason I agreed to come to Berea...

Segment Synopsis: Farr talks about why she decided to move to Berea and discusses attending and graduating from Berea College. She talks about writing and publishing another book, Appalachian Women: An Annotated Bibliography. She talks more about working for the Council of the Southern Mountains and how she felt when she decided to leave. [Significant background noise may make interview hard to hear]

Keywords: Appalachian Women: An Annotated Bibliography; Books; Classes; Council of the Southern Mountains (CSM); Graduation; Guilty; Leaving; Magazines; Opportunities; Published; Working

Subjects: Authors

00:34:44 - Her drive to learn

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Partial Transcript: Well, one, one question that occurred to me as you were talking was, um, uh, where--do you have any idea where that drive came from?

Segment Synopsis: Farr talks about her drive to learn and whether anyone else in her family had similar ambitions. She talks about how the missionaries at Red Bird influenced her life. [Significant background noise may make interview hard to hear]

Keywords: Accents; College education; Drive; Influences; Learning; Missionaries; Shame; Talent; Writing

Subjects: Education

00:38:38 - Book on near-death experience

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Partial Transcript: Although I've got a book coming out end of next month...

Segment Synopsis: Farr discusses a book she will be publishing concerning a man named Tom Sawyer who had a near-death experience. She talks about interviewing him about his life and writing the book. [Significant background noise may make interview hard to hear]

Keywords: Accidents; Books; God; Near-death experiences; Publishing; Spiritual experiences; Tom Sawyer; Writers

Subjects: Authors

00:45:55 - Book about cooking and recipes

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Partial Transcript: And I've gotten thirty different people from thirty or [inaudible] states.

Segment Synopsis: Farr talks about another book she wrote about recipes and interviews with people from Appalachia called 'Table Talk: Appalachian Meals and Memories'. Farr talks more about her drive to write. [Significant background noise may make interview hard to hear]

Keywords: Alaska; Bake sales; Books; Cooking; Drive; Food; Interviews; Recipes; Southern mountains; Stories; Women; Writing

Subjects: Authors; Berea College

00:52:50 - Council of the Southern Mountains and the War on Poverty

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Partial Transcript: Well, um, I wanted to ask you a few more questions about that period, um, that you were working with the Council for Southern Mountains.

Segment Synopsis: Farr talks about when she learned about the War on Poverty and talks about her attitude towards it as someone from Appalachia. She talks about the varying philosophies concerning how to help the poor. [Significant background noise may make interview hard to hear]

Keywords: Changes; Council of the Southern Mountains (CSM); Goals; Perley Ayer; Poor; Staff; War on Poverty

Subjects: Economic assistance, Domestic--Appalachian Region; Poverty--Appalachian Region; Poverty--Government policy--United States--History--20th century.

00:57:23 - Feelings towards the outside volunteers

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Partial Transcript: How did you, you all feel about them?

Segment Synopsis: Farr discusses how she and other local people felt about the outside volunteers who came in to try to help the community. [Significant background noise may make interview hard to hear]

Keywords: Appalachian Volunteers (AVs); Communities; Conferences; Confronting; Coups; Feelings; Grassroots movements; Intimidating; Ivy league students; Perley Ayers; Radicals; Tolerant; VISTA; Voting

Subjects: Volunteers in Service to America

01:06:27 - Split between the Council of the Southern Mountains and the Appalachian Volunteers / outsiders

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Partial Transcript: So you, you were there then clearly when, um, when the AVs split off--

Segment Synopsis: Farr discusses the beginning of the Appalachian Volunteers and the split between that group and the Council of the Southern Mountains. She talks about the director of the CSM, Perley Ayer. Farr discusses whether the effects of the program would have been different if more of the volunteers had come from the Appalachian community rather than outside of it. [Significant background noise may make interview hard to hear]

Keywords: Appalachian Volunteers (AVs); College students; Communities; Council of the Southern Mountains (CSM); Dialogues; Milton Olge; Money; Old-fashioned; Outsiders; Perley Ayer; Splits; Visions

01:12:34 - Lasting effects of the War on Poverty

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Partial Transcript: Well what would you say are the, the most long lasting effects of, of it?

Segment Synopsis: Farr discusses whether there were any lasting effects from the War on Poverty in Appalachia. She talks about how working with the Council of the Southern Mountains affected her own life. She talks more about the outside volunteers and her feelings about them. [Significant background noise may make interview hard to hear]

Keywords: Appalachian Volunteers (AVs); Appalshop; Colleges; Communities; Conflicts; Council of the Southern Mountains (CSM); Impact; Language; Lasting effects; Meeting people; Self-consciousness; Shocked; Training; Valuable

01:19:42 - Bridging worlds between the city and rural areas

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Partial Transcript: The other thing that I was, was really curious about but maybe that we could save it for another time...

Segment Synopsis: Farr talks more about her feeling that she is trying to bridge the gap between the Appalachian region and bigger cities like Berea and how those two worlds differ. The interview is concluded. [Significant background noise may make interview hard to hear]

Keywords: "Mountain people"; Belonging; Bridging gaps; Grandparents; Home; New world; Old world; Yearning

Subjects: Berea College; Regionalism--Appalachian Region