Our documenters include university students and community scholars.
- Theresa Osborne
Theresa Osborne is a native Kentuckian. As the daughter of a Methodist minister, she has lived all over the state but finally settled in Harlan County, Kentucky. She began her career as a photojournalist. As an award-winning journalist, she has always loved meeting new people and discovering their stories. Theresa left the field of community newspapers and began working for Southeast Community College in 1997 where she worked for more than 20 years as part of the college’s Appalachian Program before retiring in June 2020.
She has been a teacher of Appalachian Studies, Introduction to Folk Studies, and Cultural Diversity in the US for Southeast since 2004. She also taught Cultural Diversity in the US, Introduction to Folk Studies, and Foodways as an adjunct professor for Western Kentucky University. Also during her tenure at Southeast she completed her M.A. in Folk Studies from Western Kentucky University.
Theresa and co-worker Phyllis Sizemore, curator at the Kentucky Coal Museum, developed and co- hosted the weekly oral history-based radio program History Alive for over 10 years on WMMT radio. She is a former commissioner on the Kentucky Oral History Commission since 2007 and is a past Chair of the commission. Theresa is also a professional storyteller and has been the featured storyteller at Pine Mountain Settlement School for the past six years, where she tells traditional Appalachian folk tales as well as her family stories. She was trained by noted Harlan County Appalachian Storyteller Pam Holcomb.
She is currently focusing on her oral history and storytelling work, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and her herd of 13 goats, with hopefully enough time to do some mission work in Belize Central America.
- Timi Reedy
Timi Reedy is a mycologist and ecofeminist homesteader in Rockcastle County, Kentucky, and she has been a volunteer with Appalachia-Science in the Public Interest (ASPI) since the 1990s. In 1996, she helped conduct an ASPI video oral history project gathering stories from Appalachian people over 65 and their memories of the forest. As part of this project, she conducted two interviews with her grandmother, one about the forest in Eastern Kentucky where she grew up and another on her music career. She currently serves as the board president and ASPI Service-Learning Coordinator.
In her spare time, Timi enjoys writing poetry and performing Appalachian freestyle with her friends. In 2013, she produced an “Appalachia Mixtape” as follow-up to the 2012 Harlan/Knoxville MicroFest organized by the Network of Ensemble Theaters. Timi and her partner are co-producers of a multi-media documentary project about Timi’s grandparents, Frances and John Reedy, who were founding Bluegrass musicians and songwriters (http://remembereedy.blogspot.com). They have received several research and arts-related awards related to this project, including an Appalachian Sound Archives Fellowship in the Berea College Special Collections and Sound Archives, a Family Research Fellowship from the Kentucky Historical Society, an Artist Enrichment Grant from the Kentucky Foundation for Women, and an Artistic Assistance Grant from Alternate ROOTS. Timi is also a certified Community Scholar through the Kentucky Arts Council program.
- Jesse Barber, Appalachian State University | Summer 2020 – present
Jesse Barber is a documentary photographer based in the Appalachian region of western North Carolina. His work focuses on rural community and the importance of traditional values and relationships with labor and religion on the culture of these communities. He is passionate about using photography to bridge gaps, awaken new perspectives, and expand understanding of community. He has worked with people collecting stories from mill village workers in rural North Carolina to Mayan coffee farmers in Guatemala. Through his experiences, he has gained knowledge as a photographer and storyteller. Growing up in the rural South, he has a first-hand perspective of the small communities that draw meaning out of life.
Pictured: Chelsey Johnson (middle) with team members Jesse Barber (left) and Brandon Zellers (right)
- Colby Bigham, Berea College | Summer 2020
Colby Bigham is a junior at Berea College, majoring in English with minors in Creative Writing and Appalachian Studies. She calls Maryville and Knoxville, Tennessee home. While in high school, Colby also became a representative in her cosmetology program, winning second place at state during her junior and senior years. One of her biggest accomplishments has been travelling with other classmates on a trip to Ireland as a way of exploring their creative writing abilities, this internship being another. Colby has many plans for the future, the most prominent being her desire to make positive change in the Appalachian region.
- Caleb Brown, Appalachian State University | Fall 2023 - Present
Caleb Brown is a multimedia creative from Guatemala City, Guatemala by way of Asheville, North Carolina. He is currently pursuing undergraduate degrees in Commercial Photography and Sustainable Development and a master’s degree in Appalachian Studies at Appalachian State University. He recently had a photo gallery exhibition – entitled Donde Se Sostienen Los Raíces / Where Our Roots Lie – centered around how Latino culture intersects with place-based thinking in Appalachia. Beyond his exhibition, Caleb aims to uplift the voices of his fellow Latinos throughout Appalachia in his documentary work, as he believes that their stories are paramount to understanding the region.
- Shaylan Clark, Berea College | Summer 2020
Shaylan Clark is a 23-year-old Black filmmaker from Harlan, Kentucky. She is currently a Communication student at Berea College, focusing on Broadcast Journalism. She is passionate about filmmaking and raising awareness about issues that affect the people of Appalachia. She interned with the Appalachian Media Institute for three years and in her first year she made a documentary that discussed Black Lung disease called Dying Breed. Shaylan created this film in hopes of educating people on what Black Lung is and how it effects the health of coal miners. Her second film discussed the lack of sexual education in rural communities, in partnership with All Access EKY. Shaylan has also worked with the community theater project Higher Ground since 2014, helping to gather stories, create scripts, and portray complex Appalachian characters. Shaylan hopes to continue educating others in creative ways toward a positive impact on her community.
- Bailey Clayton, Mars Hill University | Fall 2020
Bailey Clayton is a senior History student at Mars Hill University in Mars Hill, North Carolina. He is also a fourth-year dancer on the collegiate clogging team, the Bailey Mountain Cloggers. With the team, he has experienced many cultures of the world through travel and dance, representing the United States in multiple cultural festivals, including travelling to Colombia, South America, the Netherlands, the Azores Islands in Portugal, and Ireland. He has also been a part of four of the team’s twenty-eight national titles and has won five national championships in solo competition for flatfoot, traditional, contemporary, and overall male clogging. For his In These Mountains research, he is conducting oral history interviews related to the history of the Bailey Mountain Cloggers. He is especially interested in how the team has upheld Appalachian dance traditions.
- Noah Eubanks, Berea College | Summer 2020
Noah Eubanks is an Asian Studies major and a second-year student at Berea College from a small town in Kentucky. His plans are to become a teacher and teach in Japan. A major proponent to this could be through his self-identified, limited knowledge of cultural differences growing up in a rural community. This sent Noah down the path to practice more intimate instances of cultural humility at Berea College, such as what clubs he joined (i.e. Asian Student Union). His hope is to eventually teach Eastern culture in rural communities like the one he grew up in, so he can greatly broaden students’ ideas of the world.
- Victoria Hewlett, East Tennessee State University | Spring 2022 - Present
Victoria Hewlett is a grant writer and community organizer from northeast Tennessee. She is studying for her MA in Appalachian Studies at East Tennessee University, where she is writing a thesis on the landscape of grant seeking for food system-focused non-profit organizations in central Appalachia. She lives in Johnson City, Tennessee with her husband and their two children.
Victoria helped start the Tri-Cities TN/VA Mutual Aid Network, which has delivered food/household/personal items to members of the Tri-Cities community since the start of the COVID-19 lockdowns in the United States in March 2020. She has been involved with electoral campaigns and social and economic justice organizations in the northeast Tennessee region since 2015. In 2021, she worked with the Highlander Center to organize a Mapping Our Futures: Economics and Governance Curriculum workshop series in Johnson City, Tennessee.
Victoria has worked in event organizing and documentation of Appalachian artists as an Events Organizer with Tanasi Arts & Heritage Center in Unicoi, Tennessee, and as Fieldworker with South Arts’ In These Mountains initiative.
- Chelsey Johnson, Appalachian State University | Fall 2019 – Fall 2020
I've been thrilled with my ITM experiences in this first month. The second week of September, I traveled to Knoxville to visit and interview Bill Alexander, a poet of the oral tradition and master craftsman and historian of Appalachian Bark Berry Baskets. In September and October, I made four visits to Stanley Marley in Caldwell Co., NC. He's allowed me to participate and make photos and videos of his annual family molasses boil, and has extended the invitation to come back once this busy time is over to learn more about beekeeping and hound-breeding as he learned from his grandfather. It's been wonderful to connect with these tradition bearers, and they are enthusiastic about having their knowledge archived and shared. My experience so far with this project has been incredibly rewarding, and I’m beyond excited to continue this work through the academic year.
Pictured: Chelsey Johnson (middle) with team members Jesse Barber (left) and Brandon Zellers (right)
- Stacey Keruwa, Berea College | Summer 2020
Stacey Keruwa is from Papua New Guinea, an island in the South Pacific. Her hometown is in Mt. Hagen, Western Highlands Province. She graduated high school from Ukarumpa International School located in the Eastern Highlands Province of the country. Her major is Agriculture and Natural Resources with double minors in Economics & Sustainability and Environmental Studies. She works at Berea College's Hutchin's Library as a Building Manager and Reference Desk Associate that enables her to work with both staff and with patrons. She helps to ensure that the library is running safely and smoothly when librarians are not present, as well as to help assist patrons with their research inquiries. She is very interested in preserving people's cultures and traditions. Where she comes from most of the culture and traditions for centuries have been passed down orally or through storytelling, and because of that there are not a lot of documentations or mediums to help preserve them for future generations. She wants to gain experience in learning how to become a better researcher and fieldworker through the South Arts internship in order to help preserve the past. She enjoys watching sunsets and sunrises, hiking, traveling, long walks on the beach, baking, reading, looking at cute dog pictures, and playing or watching soccer.
- Jennifer Lance, Berea College | Summer/Fall 2020
Jennifer Lance is a senior communication major currently residing in Berea, Kentucky where she attends Berea College. Navigating cultures has become second nature as growing up “Army Brat” afforded her opportunities to live and travel throughout Europe. Photo journaling experiences as they come, Jennifer’s greatest accomplishment to date is landing a scholarship to The New York Film Academy in Burbank, California. There, she learned how to photograph with deeper meaning and now aspires to be a visual storyteller. Today she stays stateside, but not for long. Once she graduates, she plans to travel and share the world with her eight-year-old daughter.
- Amanda Morgan, East Tennessee State University | Fall 2020 - Spring 2021
Amanda grew up in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains in Knoxville, TN. It was here she became passionate about folk music at a young age. At 14 she began her education in Irish fiddle music. The connection between the music of the Appalachian Mountains and the hills of Ireland captured her imagination and inspired her to pursue a master’s degree in Appalachian studies at East Tennessee State University. The popular Bluegrass program offered at ETSU and field work for the In These Mountains initiative gives her the ability to further explore this connection through conversations with musicians of the Appalachian and Irish traditions and expanding her understanding of the rich musical tradition of the Appalachian Mountains. In her spare time, Amanda plays fiddle in the Bristol-based Irish band, Sigean (she-gen).
- Sammy Osmond, Appalachian State University | Fall 2022 – Present
Sammy Osmond is a documentary filmmaker and graduate student in the Appalachian Studies Department at Appalachian State University, in his hometown of Boone, North Carolina. He received an undergraduate degree in Film Studies from Wesleyan University, where his work focused on creating intimate documentary profiles of exceptional individuals who were often overlooked. He believes that fascinating stories are embedded in people all around us and carries a sense of healthy curiosity with him into every new situation. In his free time, you can find him playing banjo, bouldering at his local gym, or striking up a friendly conversation with anyone he meets.
- Caitlyn Sheets, Western Kentucky University | Fall 2021 - Present
Caitlyn Sheets is a Folk Studies graduate student at Western Kentucky University, focusing on Museum Studies. She is currently based in Bowling Green, KY, but calls Hedgesville, WV, home. While in her undergraduate studies at Shepherd University, she majored in English Literature with a double minor in Appalachian Studies and Gender & Women’s Studies. Caitlyn is passionate about equality and equity in the Appalachian region, specifically for the Queer community. She has been the editor for the Anthology of Appalachian Writers: Karen Spears Zacharias Volume XI (2018, Shepherd University) and sat on the Writer-in-Residence Committee that created the Appalachian Studies M.A. at Shepherd University. She also was a part of the oral history project “Hear This!” produced by SAIL in Shepherdstown, WV, fostering intergenerational storytelling between community members and students at the nearby university. Caitlyn states, “What really drives me is the fact that so many people have helped me in my life to get here… I just want to give back to not just those people but to anybody else who needs it."
- Heath Stiltner, East Tennessee State University | Fall 2023 - Present
Heath Stiltner is an Appalachian photojournalist and communications specialist born and raised in the small town of Dorton in Southeastern Kentucky. He attended Transylvania University in Lexington, KY, where he earned a BA in Art History. He is currently earning his MA in Appalachian Studies at East Tennessee State University, researching the comparative nature of queer communities and the politics surrounding them in Central Appalachia and the Scottish Highlands, from which many of Appalachia's settlers migrated.
Professionally, Heath has used his camera and words to document the stories of small American folk artists for print and online journals and publications. He has also served as the Communications Specialist for his alma mater, Transylvania University, and most recently as the Director of Communications for the Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky in Hazard, KY.
Heath hopes to create a more vibrant and equitable world for Appalachia and its residents through his research. He spends much of his free time exploring the area and its many cultural centers, as well as similar communities around the world in countries such as Ireland and Scotland, in hopes of finding a global solution to the rural inequalities created by a global economy.
- Lindsey Terrell, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill | Fall 2019 – Spring 2020
The In These Mountains Initiative means a great deal to me because discussions of Appalachia are becoming increasingly more nuanced, considering a wider breadth of diverse narratives that reflect the region’s realities. This project reflects that. As someone who is both from the region and studying it, being a part of this work and engaging in dialogue with all types of Appalachian folks is an incredible opportunity.