Emma Bell Miles (1879-1919) was an Appalachian writer, poet, naturalist, and artist who lived in the mountain community of Walden’s Ridge. During her life she published several books, dozens of short stories & poems, and sold a variety of her drawings and watercolors.
Emma’s journals paint an image of a hardscrabble life, typical of poverty-stricken Appalachians of the time. Emma, however, was not typical. She was a well-educated, intelligent, and articulate woman from a well-to-do family who faced hardship and suffering head-on as a result of whom she chose to love.
The Special Collections retains most of Emma’s journals and a large collection of her works (both written & art) and we are deeply committed to keeping her memory alive. Below is an entry that serves as a good introduction to her journals and the purpose that she hoped they would serve. This passage never ceases to bring tears to my eyes. I hope to bring you several more entries from Emma’s journals over the coming months and I promise to include the happy entries too!