Thursday, September 08, 2016

The original Hillbilly Elegy? 'The Mountain Whites of The South - by a Scotch-Irishman' 1893

The Mountain Whites of The South - by a Scotch-Irishman is a booklet I picked up a good few years ago. Published anonymously in 1893, as you'll see from the images below (if the resolution is okay) it is an appeal to the churches and also the Scotch-Irish Society of the USA to launch a $400,000 educational and relief aid programme into Appalachia - that must surely equate to many tens of millions in todays money. The booklet is just 40 pages long but is packed with information.

The chapters are:
1. Evidences of Scotch-Irish Descent
2. How They Came to the Mountains
3. Their Claims for Aid
4. What is Being Done for their Evangelization
5. How to Benefit Them
6. An Appeal to the Scotch-Irish Society

It is a compilation of a series of articles which had appeared in the Presbyterian Banner newspaper. You can read an online version here

As Dr John Hall said in his introduction: "I write as one of the Scotch-Irish, and under the impulse of deep pity for those whose condition your correspondent describes".

It is interesting that the writer says that:

"I believe these whites of the mountains are largely of Scotch-Irish descent ... I sought for some histories that would treat of the subject in the libraries of Pittsburgh and Allegheny. I could find none. I applied, through a friend, to the Congressional Library in Washington DC. I was informed there was no work in which their origin was treated of in that library, and the learned librarian expressed the opinion that there was no book which contained any account of their origin".

I was a bit cheeky a few posts ago in referring to retired ex-pat Ulster Presbyterian ministers reminiscing in their twilight years. Well here they are, seeking to draw attention to the plight of the poor. That's what 'social justice' used to mean.

P.S.: All of this raises an interesting question - when was the first American-published history of the Scotch-Irish?  Here is one from 1858.

14046004 10154460443982878 6453207002431115305 n 14102133 10154460444092878 59453643644456385 n 14054011 10154460444992878 1185743185773803649 n