Document Type


Publication Title

Journal of Appalachian Studies

Publication Date

Spring 2011


This article revisits the relationship between missionaries and Appalachian stereotypes, bringing to the discussion new developments in geographical theory and the intellectual history of ideas of wilderness. The article argues that missionary activities during the early twentieth century are best understood through their beliefs about wilderness and particularly about the moral climate of man within it. In this way the missionaries also contributed to the process of intermingling ideas about the land and the people and thereby contributed to the formation of a quasi-ethnic regional identity in the American public consciousness—and also substantially changed Appalachia by applying a set of hierarchical land values that stemmed from ideas about wilderness.


Published as Fraley, Jill M., 2011. Missionaries in the Wilderness: A History of Land, Identity, and Moral Geography in Appalachia. Journal of Appalachian Studies 17 (1-2): 28-41. © 2011 by the Appalachian Studies Association.

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