A Population in Flux: Immigration & Migration Inside Appalachia


On this  episode of the Inside Appalachia podcast, we talk immigration, migration and what it could all mean for Appalachia.


In the wake of the recent terrorist attacks in Paris, many politicians want to prevent Syrian refugees from coming to the United States (or put more restrictions on Syrian and Iraqi refugees coming here).

Central Appalachia at one time was considered the “promised land” for folks from other countries. They came here from Ireland, Poland, Greece and other parts of the world looking for work; mostly digging a hole in the ground. Now, as coal jobs decline, many people are migrating out, not in, to find work. Population has been declining in parts of the coalfields for years. Many Appalachians – maybe even you or your family – have moved to Baltimore, D.C., New York and beyond, for work or school.

Subscribe to our Inside Appalachia podcast here or on iTunes here, or on Soundcloud here or on Stitcher here.

On this episode you’ll hear:

  • What happened when Appalachians moved to Chicago looking for jobs in the 1960s and 70s? Hear more about Chicago’s Uptown Moment as a “Hillbilly Heaven” on an episode of WBEZ’s Curious City.

  • Should West Virginia accept Syrian refugees? Scott Finn brings us both sides of the argument on an episode of The Front Porch.

  • Some Syrians already in Appalachia are having a tough time staying connected with their family back. Twenty-six-year-old college student Nairouz Katrib, shares her story.

  • Ten years ago, Hurricane Katrina forced Jennifer Hill and her mother to flee New Orleans, and they found open arms in Huntington, West Virginia.

  • Appetite Appalachia – An occasional segment on Inside Appalachia that explores and features the foods and recipes found throughout our region.  Did you know that for some South Carolinians, a special type of blue cheese is their local signature food? On a recent swing through Pickens County, food writer Fred Sauceman learned the story.

  • What’s in a Name? … a segment on Inside Appalachia that explores the history and folklore of the names of Appalachian places.

Can you name a town in Appalachia that takes its name from Switzerland?

  • Is it Suisse, Tennessee?

  • Helvetia, West Virginia?

  • Svizzera, South Carolina?

Listen to the podcast to find out.

Know of another place in Appalachia with an interesting sound or mysterious folklore behind it? Send us a tweet @InAppalachia #WhatsinaName or email us at  

Special thanks to WBEZ’s Curious City and The Front Porch podcast for contributing to this week’s show.  This week’s show features music from Ben Townsend,Little Sparrow,Jake Schepps,  Marteka and William, Andy Agnew Jr and James McMurtry with “I Ain’t Got A Place” as performed onMountain Stage.

We’d love to hear from you.   You can e-mail us at Find us on Twitter@InAppalachia or@JessicaYLilly.

Never miss a show! Subscribe to our Inside Appalachia podcast here or on iTunes here, or on Soundcloud here or on Stitcher here.