Briceville, TN

Population estimates of Briceville, an unincorporated town, place the size at about 1100 people with several hundred more living in the hollows and on the mountains surrounding the town itself. A former mining town, Briceville serves as the center of the 1300 square mile coal field in the northwest half of Anderson County. The land is owned almost totally by three land and mining companies: Coal Creek Mining and Manufacturing, Tennessee Land and Mining, and Consolodated [sic] Coal. Though strip mining has been heavy in recent years, indicated coal reserves in the area evidence that the stripping has just begun. Many of the people of north Anderson County are leaving to seek employment in the North […]. Some subsistance farming and a few large industries like Union Carbide in Oak Ridge provide support for those remaining. A record of the Briceville area income tax returns from 1966 shows that fifty-six per cent of the people completing the forms earned under $3000 a year. With the closing of the major deep mines in the ’30s and ’40s, however, the essential services they once provided (housing and medical care) were curtailed. Social security, food stamps, welfare, and black lung benefits now provide the primary resources of the region.

See page 18 of the 1971-1972 Annual Report for more information.


Related People:

John E. Davis

Contributed by John E. Davis, August 2015. Burlington, Vermont. I am the eldest son of a Southern couple who moved north for employment after World War II.  Every June, my parents would “go home,” loading their three boys into a station… Continued

Charles “Boomer” Winfrey

After studying geology at the University of Tennessee and working as a geologist for one year, Boomer took a job as a community organizer with Save Our Cumberland Mountains (SOCM). As he later described his role: “They needed somebody with… Continued

J. Thomas “Tom” John

I am a bit late in getting my bio in, best done in the earlier stages of pending dotage. I am originally from Laurinburg, N.C., a small farming and, then, textile community in the eastern part of the state. I… Continued

Byrd Duncan

Contributed by John E. Davis When the newly recruited medical workers and community workers of the Student Health Coalition gathered in Nashville in June 1970, beginning a week of orientation for the SHC’s second summer in Appalachia, they were introduced… Continued

Margaret Ecker

I joined the Coalition as a community organizer after graduating from Vanderbilt in Philosophy in 1970. I stayed on with the Coalition through the next school year to help with year end reports and preparation for the next summer. Inspired… Continued
Bill Dow in Smithville ,Tenn., 1970

Bill Dow

Bill Dow co-founded the Student Health Coalition while in medical school at Vanderbilt University, in 1969. His larger-than-life role in the SHC origin story and beyond warrants special telling, which we attempt in the essay that follows. Contributed by Margaret… Continued

Karen Blaydes

Contributed by John Emmeus Davis with the generous assistance of Jack Beckford, June 2017. Karen Blaydes (1948-2009) joined the Student Health Coalition (SHC) in 1970, two weeks after graduating from Vanderbilt University with a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish. This… Continued

Related Stories:

Notes from the road: Mountain People’s Health Councils

[Story contributed by Caryl Carpenter] On October 23rd, 2017, a doctor, a lawyer, an archivist, and an old lady started out to make history, or more accurately, to record history – the history of Mountain People’s Health Councils (MPHC) in… 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, Tenn., where the Coalition concentrated on environmental and occupational… Continued

One of the best days ever

[Story contributed by Rosalie Hammond, December 2015] During the summer of 1971, I spent a good deal of time on health fair follow-up.  We had always been committed to doing more than just identify clinical problems at the health fairs. … Continued

Related Resources/Links:

Irwin Venick Subject Files, Southern Historical Collection, UNC Chapel Hill

Irwin Venick worked with the Appalachian Student Health Coalition and the Center for Health Services in the 1970s, eventually becoming a lawyer in Nashville, Tenn. The series includes subject files on social and environmental issues in Tennessee and the South,… Continued

Article: “Second Health Fair in Progress,” from the Oak Ridger

Lunsford, Larry. “Second Health Fair In Progress.” Oak Ridger, 1971. View PDF. Transcription: A second “Health Fair” is currently in progress at the Briceville Elementary School in the Briceville Community west of Lake City. (It continues through Friday.) Sponsored by the Briceville… Continued

Interview with Kate Bradley and J.W. Bradley by Evangeline Mee, 29 May 2012, Southern Oral History Program, UNC Chapel Hill

Topics discussed in this interview with Kate Bradley and J.W. Bradley include: birth in Petros, Tenn.; life history overview; coal mining father; history of Save Our Cumberland Mountains (SOCM); women’s role in SOCM; relationship of Vanderbilt University medical students; Student… Continued

Richard Davidson Photograph Collection, Southern Historical Collection, UNC Chapel Hill

Richard Davidson (1947-), a medical physician and educator, was among the founding participants of the Vanderbilt Student Health Coalition at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn. (1970-1971) and the Mountain People’s Health Council in eastern Tennesee (1975-1976). The Student Health Coalition… Continued

Deborah Cogswell Photograph Album, Southern Historical Collection, UNC Chapel Hill

Photograph album compiled by Deborah Cogswell, circa 1971, with images from her time with the Student Health Coalition. The images document her experiences in several Appalachian communities, including: White Oak, Briceville, Sneedville, Cosby and Deer Lodge, Tenn., and Grethel (Floyd… Continued