Bill Lynch, Mason Adams, Kelley Libby, Zander Aloi, Lilly Knoepp Published

Celebrating Foxfire, Inside Appalachia

Five people stand or sit next to each other on a porch. All are smiling. Four women and one man.
Foxfire began over 50 years ago and has evolved, grown and become an institution of Appalachian knowledge and memory.
Photo courtesy of Lilly Knoepp.

Since 1967, Foxfire has been a storehouse of traditional Appalachian knowledge that still helps people today.

It continues to preserve music and history, but part of Foxfire’s heritage has been recording the stories of Appalachian women. 

This week, Inside Appalachia explores Foxfire – its past, present and future.

In This Episode:

What Is Foxfire?

Photo Lilly Knoepp.

Foxfire began in 1967 as a student-run magazine in North Georgia. It was a way for high school students to collect and share the wisdom and lore from their community members. They named it “Foxfire” after a fungus in the region that glows in the dark. 

Over 50 years, it’s grown into a book series, a magazine, a museum, and an oral history archive. One of those oral histories is from 1975 and captures the kind of knowledge that Foxfire collected.    

An Appalachian Woman’s Place Often Went Beyond The Home

Photo Lilly Knoepp. Appalachian storyteller Elizabeth Ellis is featured in the Foxfire project with Blue Ridge Public Radio,

A lot of the women in older archival Foxfire interviews said that they “didn’t work” but so many Appalachian women were midwives, mothers, and business owners. 

Foxfire’s latest collection features 21 women in the book called “The Foxfire Book of Appalachian Women,” edited by then Foxfire education director and museum curator Kami Ahrens. Mason Adams had more.  

Oral History Tradition Continues Today

In 2020, Blue Ridge Public Radio partnered with Ahrens to record oral histories and aired them on the radio. BPR’s Lilly Knoepp shared a few.  


Our theme music is by Matt Jackfert. Other music this week was provided by Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn, Sean Watkins, The Steel Woods, and Dr. Kathy Bullock and her class at the John C. Campbell Folk School.

Bill Lynch is our producer. Zander Aloi is our associate producer. Our executive producer is Eric Douglas. Kelley Libby is our editor. Our audio mixer is Patrick Stephens.

You can send us an email:

You can find us on Instagram, Threads and Twitter @InAppalachia. Or here on Facebook.

Sign-up for the Inside Appalachia Newsletter!

Inside Appalachia is a production of West Virginia Public Broadcasting.