About the Project

Craft Revival: Shaping Western North Carolina Past and Present — a website and digital archive — is a project of Hunter Library at Western Carolina University. Its aim is to create a research-based website that documents an historic effort to revive handcraft in the western part of the state. The project draws from a wealth of documents, photographs, and craft objects that are housed in archival repositories of the region's museums, guilds, and craft schools. Hunter Library has organized these into a searchable database available via the World Wide Web.

The Craft Revival website and the companion digital archive are managed and maintained by the Hunter Library as lead institution for the project. In 2002 the library received a digitization starter grant, its first foray into digital collections. In 2004 the library received a second grant and digitized its Horace Kephart Collection, creating the online website and database Horace Kephart: Revealing an Enigma. That same year, the library was awarded a planning grant from the State Library of North Carolina to plan its first region-wide, multi-institutional digital project.

In 2005, with the success of a three-year implementation proposal, Hunter Library established an ambitious initiative to document, digitize-and share with the world-the rich material culture of western North Carolina. As the topic of its new initiative, Hunter Library faculty and staff selected documents and artifacts on the topic of the Craft Revival, a 50-year period when the nation focused its attention on the Appalachian region and its folk art. Working closely with seven regional partners, the library developed a digital repository, database framework, metadata structure, workflow plan, and training. Content creation and submission were the responsibilities of seven project partners: John C. Campbell Folk School, Mountain Heritage Center, Museum of the Cherokee Indian, Penland School of Crafts, Qualla Arts and Crafts Mutual, Southern Highland Craft Guild, and Hunter Library's Special Collections. Through partnerships created on behalf of this project, a new understanding of the Craft Revival is emerging. Items from these disparate collections are brought together to create a cohesive story of the Craft Revival and its cumulative impact in shaping western North Carolina and the state.

Funding for this project comes from the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). Federal funds were administered by the State Library of North Carolina, an agency of the Department of Cultural Resources. In 2008 the Cherokee Preservation Foundation, a private foundation, provided funds to the Hunter Library to support a closer collaboration with the Museum of the Cherokee Indian and Qualla Arts and Crafts Mutual.

As part of a comprehensive university, the Hunter Library aspires to meet regional needs by applying education and leadership. Through the Craft Revival project, the library subscribes to UNC Tomorrow in its work to "apply, translate, and communicate research and scholarship to broader audiences" (4.7.1). Through the applications of education and collaboration, the Craft Revival project communicates "research and scholarship" to audiences beyond the traditional classroom.

Hunter Library's Craft Revival initiative was one of the first region-wide projects to use North Carolina's ECHO model in a multi-year partnership grant. North Carolina's ECHO—Exploring Cultural Heritage Online—promotes the use of digital technologies to broaden and enhance access to North Carolina's cultural heritage. The project followed ECHO-established guidelines and adapted Dublin Core to local metadata needs. Individual items are fully described by individual records that are coded so that they will be fully searchable.

Now online, the Craft Revival digital collection contains over 3,000 period documents, vintage photographs, and craft objects available to the public via a searchable database. To make the collections more usable, a fully developed interpretive website provides history, biography, and information on the crafts themselves. A resource section provides additional educational material, including an annotated bibliography, links to other educational websites, and lesson plans for teachers. Together, the interpretive story and database provide context for a deeper understanding of the Craft Revival and its lasting impact on the region.

Read The Story. Meet The People. Learn about The Crafts. View The Collection.