The Student Health Coalition Archive Project describes a collaboration between underserved communities and college students in the 1960s through the 1980s.  The goal of the collaboration: improve access to health care, by means of community organizing, primarily in the rural south.

The archive represents an innovative community-driven approach to preserving history, weaving together individual stories and memories that in the aggregate build a narrative about the work, the era, community organizing, and health care delivery.
This website serves as a portal to the Archive, and an invitation to participate.

Project Themes

Recently Added Stories

SOCM’s and the SHC’s culture of ‘family fun’

Maureen O’Connell and Charles “Boomer” Winfrey reflect on the value of having fun, highlighting the Student Health Coalition as an especially stimulating group of people to be around. Their commitment to collective recreation ultimately facilitated a stronger sense of togetherness… Continued

Where can the SHC go from here?

Charles “Boomer” Winfrey and Maureen O’Connell ruminate on work left to be done in the eastern Tennessee region of Appalachia. Their focus pertains mostly to the ongoing need for augmented healthcare resources, drug education and reform, and meeting the needs… Continued

Bill Dow as a community organizer in Appalachia

Maureen O’Connell and Charles “Boomer” Winfrey reflect on Bill Dow’s character and personal philosophy about community organizing. They describe him as an other-oriented person driven by creative, actionable service and mutually respectful relationships best illustrated by his perception of and… Continued

Decline of coal camp healthcare and subsequent basis of need for reform

Charles “Boomer” Winfrey and Maureen O’Connell discuss the local healthcare setting upon Save Our Cumberland Mountain’s (SOCM) and the Student Health Coalition’s (SHC) early stages of community organizing in East Tennessee. Maureen details several local factors which established a major… Continued

Reflections on the SHC’s approach to community healthcare

Charles “Boomer” Winfrey and Maureen O’Connell consider what set the Student Health Coalition apart from other community development efforts in the Appalachian region of East Tennessee. Boomer focuses on the Coalition’s and SOCM’s value of community empowerment (by way of… Continued

Charles “Boomer” Winfrey’s origins with SOCM

Boomer discusses his introduction to Save Our Cumberland Mountains (SOCM) in 1972. Inspired by his geological studies and depth of conviction about unregulated strip mining’s adverse effects on both the environment and community health, Boomer has been an active participant… Continued

Maureen O’Connell’s introduction to SOCM and the SHC

Maureen traces the development of her involvement with Save Our Cumberland Mountains (SOCM) and the Student Health Coalition (SHC), beginning with her 1969 introduction to Marie Cirillo and research presence in Clairfield, Tennessee. Recorded on May 20th, 2013.   Full… Continued

ASHC Archive Project outreach and recruitment

Lark Hayes suggests a focused approach to participant recruitment and story collection for the archive project. John Davis supports this strategy and ends the meeting with a thematic “bucket” yet undiscussed: stories about opposition to the Student Health Coalition. Recorded… Continued

Recently Added Personal Profiles

Diane Lauver's Legacy Plant

Resilient Reba: A bittersweet story from Diane Lauver

During a health fair in the 70s, I stayed with a couple in Elgin, TN: Reba and Bud Smithers. Another health fair worker, Angela stayed with me at their home. A few experiences with this couple left me with strong… Continued

David Morrow on the personal legacy of his student activism

I became involved with the Appalachian Student Health Coalition when I was an undergraduate at Vanderbilt. In 1977, the summer after my graduation, I worked as a community organizer in Copperhill, Tennessee, where the Coalition concentrated on environmental and occupational… Continued
Bill Dow in Smithville TN, 1970

Bill Dow

Bill Dow co-founded the Student Health Coalition while in medical school at Vanderbilt University, in 1969. He was a visionary. He inspired a generation of student activists and made lasting relationships with leaders in rural communities around the rural South.… Continued

Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA)

The Tennessee Valley Authority provided support to the Student Health Coalition early on, beginning in 1970.  A TVA van traveled to the Coalition health fairs and included x-ray, lab facilities, and staff to run it.  Retired TVA vans eventually served… Continued