Sponsored by the Frank & Jane Gabor West Virginia Folklife Center Arrangements by National Travel In Summer 2011, the “Roads to Appalachia through Study-Travel Abroad” will travel to Belgium, Germany, and Switzerland in search of our region’s connections to these root areas. As part of the largest and earliest ethnic population in America, the Germans settled in eastern and northern “western” (West) Virginia by the early to mid 18th Century, primarily emigrating from the Rhineland-Palatinate region of western Germany. By the mid 19th Century, German Swiss settlements were being made throughout central West Virginia, with the Aargau Region of Switzerland populating the small West Virginia mountain village of Helvetia. Among the heavy wave of settlers into Central Appalachia during the early 20th Century’s Industrial Revolution, many glassworkers came from Belgian cities, such as Charleroi. Settling throughout West Virginia, these Europeans brought with them varied skills, traditions, customs, storytelling, and other folkloric elements that are still being perpetuated in parts of Central Appalachia.
A 2011 Spring Semester course, “Roads to Appalachia through Belgium and the Germanic roots of Western Germany and Northern Switzerland,” will be offered for those traveling to the European Countries during the Summer of 2011. Two local texts have been chosen to accent this course including Gerald Milnes’ Signs, Cures, and Witchery: German Appalachian Folklore, and David H. Sutton’s Helvetia: The History of a Swiss Village in the Mountains of West Virginia. This special “Study-Travel Abroad” program will be led and hosted by Dr. Judy Prozzillo Byers, Director, and Noel W. Tenney, Cultural Specialist, both of the Folklife Center.