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Kentucky Humanities Chautauqua presents: Anne Shelby as Aunt Molly Jackson, “Pistol Packin’ Woman”
Feisty, funny, and completely fearless, Aunt Molly Jackson lived for nearly 50 years in the coal camps of Southeastern Kentucky, where her father, brothers, husband, and sons were miners. In the camps, Aunt Molly delivered babies, nursed the sick, and wrote and sang songs about the miners’ lives. Her “Hungry Ragged Blues,” for example, tells of miners during the Depression who regularly risked their lives underground, but did not earn enough to feed and clothe their children.
Aunt Molly’s songs, her eloquence, and her intimate knowledge of life in the camps impressed Theodore Dreiser and his committee of writers when they visited Kentucky in 1931. Dreiser encouraged Aunt Molly to move to New York City, where her heartfelt songs and lively stories made her a popular and well-known spokesperson for Kentucky miners. Today, Aunt Molly’s songs and stories take us back to the Eastern and Western Kentucky coalfields of the early 20th century.
Co-sponsored by Kentucky Humanities an independent, nonprofit affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities in Washington, D.C. and The Friends of The Library
Shelby, is a native and resident of southeastern Kentucky. She received an M.A. in English from the University of Kentucky, and a B.A. in English from St. Andrews Presbyterian College in Laurinburg, North Carolina. She has published essays, plays, songs, and children’s books, among them an American Bookseller Pick of the Lists, an American Folklore Society Aesop Accolade winner, a School Library Journal Best Book, and a Junior Library Guild Selection. Her collection of poems, Appalachian Studies, was a Kentucky Literary Award and Appalachian Writers Association Book of the Year nominee. Aside from writing, Shelby has also taught classes in creative writing at several prestigious institutions in Kentucky.