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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The University of Tennessee Press will publish an Encyclopedia of Appalachia, officials announced Thursday.

 The Center for Appalachian Studies and Services (CASS) at East Tennessee State University in Johnson City will compile and edit the encyclopedia, which will focus on the environment, culture, recreation, heritage, technology, and future of the region, which spans parts of 13 states from New York to Mississippi.

“We are honored to have a role in East Tennessee State’s Encyclopedia of Appalachia,” said Dr. Joe Johnson, president of the University of Tennessee. “The culture and heritage of our region should be catalogued and preserved. It is appropriate that these two universities work together on such a meaningful and important project.”

ETSU President Dr. Paul E. Stanton Jr. said the project, which should be finished by 2001, will look at the diversity of Appalachia.

“We believe that the richness of the region, historically, lies in its heritage and diversity of peoples and cultures,” Stanton said. “This Encyclopedia of Appalachia will allow others to learn more about the heritage many of us take for granted.

“At the same time, it will better educate all of us on our potential as a region. We look forward to working with UT Press on this important endeavor.”

Dr. Jean Speer and Rudy Abramson, editors of the ETSU project, are working with numerous groups and individuals associated with the region to develop specific topics for the encyclopedia.

 The editors also will identify scholars to research and prepare the encyclopedia entries.

UT Press will contribute editorial guidance and support as the project develops further, said Jennifer Siler, director of UT Press.

 At ETSU, Speer is director of CASS, a Tennessee Center of Excellence. Abramson is a former Washington correspondent for the Los Angeles Times and author of “Hallowed Ground: Preserving America’s Heritage,” a recent book about the Virginia Piedmont.

 CASS selected UT Press because of the press’s strong commitment to the field of Appalachian studies, Speer said.

UT Press began its publishing program in 1940 with a mission to stimulate scientific and scholarly research in all fields; to channel such studies, either in scholarly or popular form, to a larger number of people; and to extend the regional leadership of UT by stimulating research projects within the South, Siler said.

 Appalachian studies has emerged as an increasingly important aspect of UT Press’s publishing program and one that has brought national and international recognition to the press and its authors, Siler said.

 Contact: Kristin Fry, ETSU (423-439-4317) or Wendy West, UT Press, (423-974-3321)

 Editor’s Note: At ETSU on Monday, March 10, from 10:30 a.m. to noon, Dr. Jean Speer and Jennifer Siler will be available to discuss the recent advisory and editorial board meetings at the Appalachian Regional Commission office in Washington, D.C. Please come to the Center for Appalachian Studies and Services, 119 Sherrod Library (enter at the lower level back entrance).