The first comprehensive study of the valley's rich folklife
Bordered by the Blue Ridge and the Allegheny
Mountains, the Shenandoah Valley forms a natural corridor to the western
parts of Virginia, Tennessee, and North Carolina. Early American settlers
followed the valley as one of the first routes westward.
In Shenandoah Valley Folklife, Scott Hamilton
Suter documents the many peoples who have left their marks on the folkways
of the region--Native Americans, Germans, Swiss, Scots- Irish, and African
Americans. His research reveals how the first settlers there built homes,
how they worshiped, and how they passed on legends and musical traditions
that continue to play a role in the community today.
Throughout the book, Suter argues that
the valley's past plays a definitive role in its present. He finds family
traditions still thriving in crafts like white oak basketmaking, as well
as in cooking and architecture. To illuminate the change and continuity
in religious life, he focuses on Old Order Mennonites, the Church of the
Brethren, and Baptists in the region.
Using both historical sources and his own
field work, Suter shows how folklife remains a powerful, resonant force
in the Shenandoah, and how new immigrants are adapting and adding their
own traditions to long-standing customs.
Scott Hamilton Suter is curator of the Shenandoah Valley Folk Art
& Heritage Center in Dayton, Virginia. He was a Senior Fulbright
Scholar and University Fellow at The George Washington University and wrote
and Fashion: Cabinetmaking in the Upper Shenandoah Valley, 1850-1900
and has had articles in the Folklore Historian and the Virginia