The Appalachian Oral History Project (AOHP) is an archive of oral histories collected in the early 1970s from thousands of residents of the Appalachian region. The project created a trove of data for scholars in multiple disciplines who were interested in studying and researching the region and its history and culture. Interviewers conducted a significant portion of the oral histories with African American residents of the region. However, in the intervening decades, researchers have done little with these histories or the larger project that they make up. What do these oral histories have to say today about African American identities in Central Appalachia and the use of oral history to confront questions of place and identity? A pilot project made use of ethnographic methods to explore these questions. Through a unique utilization of the Appalachian Oral History Project archives, the project was designed to be a conversation across time between a current resident of the region and those who long ago told their own stories of what it meant to make a life as a black American in Central Appalachia. Such a method offers a model for a more expansive project and provides direction for both a reconsideration of the uses of oral history collections and for future critical archival scholarship.

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