This article revisits the relationship between missionaries and Appalachian stereotypes, bringing to the discussion new developments in geographical theory and the intellectual history of ideas of wilderness. The article argues that missionary activities during the early twentieth century are best understood through their beliefs about wilderness and particularly about the moral climate of man within it. In this way the missionaries also contributed to the process of intermingling ideas about the land and the people and thereby contributed to the formation of a quasi-ethnic regional identity in the American public consciousness—and also substantially changed Appalachia by applying a set of hierarchical land values that stemmed from ideas about wilderness.

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