One Year of Expatalachians A look back at our stories and thoughts.

October 2019 marks expatalachians' one-year anniversary of writing stories and creating content to explore the history, environment, politics and cultures of Appalachia. Here is a look back at some highlights of our journalism project, starting with our series for Black History Month.

Black Coal: The African-American Miners of West Virginia’s Southern Coalfields

By 1917, one in every three miners working in the Pocahontas Field were black, the majority of whom worked the hardest, worst-paying jobs of loader and laborer: digging, loading, and hauling the coal in dangerous underground conditions.

It’s Time to Talk About West Virginia’s Slaves

While West Virginia's’s 5-7 percent slave population may seem small compared to states like Mississippi and Virginia, aggregate numbers hide a much larger story. Slaveholders dominated the state’s economy in the antebellum period, owning between 33-40 percent of land in West Virginia and eastern Kentucky, and they translated their wealth into disproportionate political and social power.

Talking with Ghosts: A Multimedia Journey through the Underground Railroad

"So often we hear the stories about the kind of suffering and victimization that enslaved people had to live with, but we don’t necessarily hear about all of the planning, brother and sisterhood, secrecy, action and attempts that were being made to seek freedom," says Pittsburgh-based artist Kelsey Robinson, "I want people to hear more of these stories."


Appalachia is so much more than its portrayal in mainstream media and national news outlets. Here are some stories to further complicate our understanding of the history and people who have shaped the area.

We also love to explore the quirkier side of Appalachia:

Country Roads: How John Denver’s Hit Became the World’s Most Popular Song

“Country Roads” was a global hit almost from the moment it premiered, with German, Danish, Italian, Greek and even Hindi versions — along with many more —hitting the market within a decade. Even Eastern European countries took to the song, with Slovenian, Czech and Romanian artists producing versions that remain popular. Give them a listen.

Politics and Organizing

From West Virginia to the Middle East

A signature aspect of expatalachians is our global perspective; all of our team members have had significant experience living in and learning about different parts of the world, from the Middle East and North Africa to Europe to Asia. We hope to utilize these experiences to inform how we talk about and contextualize our articles on Appalachia.

Economics and Environment

Appalachia displays, perhaps more so than any other place in the United States, the integral connection between natural resources, the environment, the economy, culture and labor. Here's a look at some of our articles exploring these intersections.

Thank you for reading, and here's to many more stories and debates in the future!