After World War II, planning was underway for a new general studies program at Berea College, influenced by the University of Chicago's new curriculum. Chicago's president, Robert Maynard Hutchins, was the second son of Berea's fourth president, William J. Hutchins, and the brother of Berea's fifth president, Francis Hutchins. "Man and the Humanities" would be a new course in this curriculum and would involve year-long rotations through literature, music, and art.
In the art rotation, one of the first assignments asked students to draw their home community on an 8½ x 11-inch piece of paper, an assignment that continued in various manifestations of the course from 1948 through the 1980s. Art professor Les Pross, who came to Berea in 1947, was long associated with this course. Miraculously, he saved all of these students' drawings and eventually deposited many of them in the Berea's Special Collections in Hutchins Library. There were some 7,000 drawings done over the lifetime of this course. In 2006, Dr. Chad Berry learned of them and saw them as treasure.
Mappalachia the website emerged out of a Berea College class in Summer 1 of 2011: Mapping Appalachia: Making Meaning with Digital Media, team-taught with Dr. Jan Pearce and Dr. Berry. The goals of the class were to teach students the context behind many of the drawings, to teach students how to "read" the images from various theoretical perspectives, and to design and construct a website that would make the drawings accessible to scholars and to the public. Because many of the students who came to Berea during these years were from Appalachia, Mappalachia offers drawings that are now "primary sources" that offer revealing glimpses of Appalachia in the last half of the twentieth century. Lindsey Martin, '09, and Beth Bissmeyer, '09, worked with Dr. Berry to choose approximately 800 of the most revealing images in a faculty-student research project. We hope you enjoy the website as much as we enjoyed making the webpage.