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Scope and Contents

From the Collection:

This collection contains the photographs of Earl Palmer, an award-winning photographer from Cambria, Virginia, whose work depicted the landscape and traditional culture of rural Appalachia in Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia. Materials date from the 1940s to the 1970s. The collection is divided among the following series: photographs, duplicate photographs, written materials, oversize photographs, and artifacts.

The Photographs series contains approximately 750 photos taken by Palmer from the 1940s through the 1970s. Palmer's photos document the landscape and traditional culture of Appalachia in the Virginia- Tennessee-North Carolina-Kentucky-West Virginia region and include depictions of artisans, moonshiners, coal miners and scenes from daily life in rural Appalachia. Many of the photos are accompanied by descriptions written by Palmer. The photographs are arranged by topic, with numerous cross-references directing the user to appropriate headings.

Duplicate Photos are arranged by the same subject headings used in arranging the original photographs. While there are multiple copies of some photos, others have only one duplicate, and many have none.

The Written Materials, very few in number, range in date from 1946 to 1976. Including such materials as photo descriptions, bits of correspondence and notes, postcards and printed material, this series is arranged by document type.

The Oversize Photos series consists of items which were too large to be inter-filed in the Photographs series.

The Artifacts series contains materials, collected by Palmer, which are associated with traditional Appalachian folk culture. The series includes such items as a moonshine still, wagon wheels, ox yokes and hand-made brooms, as well as items associated with coal mining and railroading. Also included is a small collection of cameras and photography equipment.


  • 1880 - 1989

Language of Materials

From the Collection:

The collection consists mainly of artifacts and photographs. All language materials capture in images or on items is in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.


From the Collection: 8 Cubic Feet (8 boxes (not including the artifact collection))

Location Note

Artifacts in this collection are held by Special Collections and University Archives, but are located in an off-site facility. Access to artifacts requires at least one week advance notice and are subject to availability of staff. Please note: We may not be able to offer viewing of all artifacts requested, due to preservation and transportation concerns, current location and organization of collection, the size of individual items, and the number of items requested.

Please contact Special Collections and University Archives ( or 540-231-6308) for more information.


Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives, Virginia Tech Repository

Special Collections and University Archives, University Libraries (0434)
560 Drillfield Drive
Newman Library, Virginia Tech
Blacksburg Virginia 24061 US