The headquarters of the Appalachian Studies Association is located in the basement of Old Main on the Marshall Campus. The ASA is an organization of scholars and activists who share an interest in the study of Appalachia, including the history and culture of the region. The organization dates back to a meeting held in 1977 by a group of scholars from the region. In addition to sharing their research with one another, these scholars joined with regional activists and educators to create a permanent organization that would support research and education on topics related to the history and culture of the region. The Appalachian Studies Association also supports those who study contemporary issues facing the region and efforts to improve communication between Appalachian residents and other organizations throughout the region. The organization hosts an annual academic conference, publishes the peer-reviewed Journal of Appalachian Studies, and serves as a conduit for scholars and activists to communicate with each other.
Prior to 1977, Appalachian activism, scholarship, and service manifested itself in many ways, including an initial “Appalachian Conference” in 1970 and a 1976 gathering at Appalachian State University. This meeting brought scholars from a variety of academic disciplines together, and for the first time,” wrote Appalachian scholar and activist Steve Fisher, “academicians who had felt isolated in fighting the battle for Appalachian Studies…realized that there was a network of people fighting the same battle”
This meeting led to planning sessions and the first Appalachian Studies conference at Berea College in 1978. Annual Appalachian Studies conferences were held every year after that. Originally founded as the “Appalachian Studies Conference” in December 1978, the organizational name was changed to its current “Appalachian Studies Association” in 1993. A timeline of the ASA’s history is available on the Appalachian Studies Association website.