Sunday, December 28, 2008
Edited by Eliot Wigginton
And His Students
Several years ago, my father-in-law presented me with a copy of The Foxfire Book because he knew I loved history and stories of how people used to do things. There are several subsequent books in the series.
Eliot Wigginton was a teacher in a small Appalachian Mountain community in North Georgia in 1966. Things were not going well for the Cornell University graduate and his mountain high school English students. In desperation, he suggested the class put together an issue of a magazine. The students’ choice for the magazine title was “Foxfire” named after an organism that is found in the mountains and glows in the dark.
Students interviewed their parents, grandparents, and neighbors to gather mountain folklore for inclusion in their magazine. Subscriptions funded the cost. One issue grew to more and eventually resulted in an anthology. Many students pursued college degrees as a result of their experience with the project and scholarships from interested supporters around the country.
The books are excellent resources for writers who want to write about early American experiences. The Table of Contents lists topics such as Building a Log Cabin, Chimney Building, Soap making, Churning Your Own Butter, and Home Remedies. Pictures and illustrations help with the instructions.
On a recent trip through North Georgia, my husband and I went to the study site for the Foxfire project. Each summer workshops provide Georgia teachers and other interested parties hands on experiences at the site. A well-equipped bookstore offers more books and local handicrafts.
Do you want to know how your heroine cooked a mountain recipe in the fireplace? Pages 159-165 will have information about the fireplace, and 167-174 will provide some mountain recipes.
Does your hero need to read weather signs before setting out to rescue the heroine? Check out 208-211.
The website for the museum, www.foxfire.org/thefoxfirebooks.aspx, states there are a total of twelve books representing forty years of magazines written by the students. Past issues of recent magazines as well as subscriptions for two magazines a year are also available. I want to order the magazine that tells about “sock suppers”. Amazon also listed some books as available.
If you love history, write historicals, or want to know how your ancestors provided for themselves in our young country, I suggest you may want to sample one of The Foxfire Books.