Looking at Appalachia

The War on Poverty was launched in 1964, and nowhere else was this war photographed more than Appalachia. Given its proximity to Washington, DC, it was easily accessible and offered virtually unlimited opportunities for photographers to show a need for the program. However, these images have often drawn from the poorest areas and people to gain support for the intended cause. As a consequence, America’s visual definition of Appalachia was developed largely by these images. They unjustly came to represent the entirety of the region, while simultaneously perpetuating stereotypes.


The work amassed by this project explores the diversity of Appalachia and serves as a visual counterpoint to the War on Poverty pictures at a significant milestone–the 50th anniversary of its declaration. Drawing from a varied population of photographers within the region, Looking at Appalachia collected 2,042 submissions in 2014 and curated and online collection of 297 pictures. This new crowdsourced image archive will serve as a reference that is defined by its people as opposed to political legislation.

History & Biography


Roger May