From Roots to Roses
The Autobiography of Tilda Kemplen

Tilda Kemplen
Transcribed and edited by Nancy Herzberg


“In a narrative that unfolds in unadorned, refl ective prose . . . Kemplen tells the inspiring story of a life of service.”
Publishers Weekly

“The value of Tilda Kemplen’s autobiography rests not on its literary quality but on the life story of a woman struggling to exist and raise a family, obtain an education, and enter the teaching profession. . . . From Roots to Roses allows an Appalachian to speak for herself, her people, and her region, and it offers extraordinary insight into the life of an indigenous activist.”
Georgia Historical Quarterly

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Hailed in her native Campbell County, Tennessee, as “the Mother Teresa of the coal country,” Tilda Kemplen was a teacher, activist, and founder and executive director of Mountain Communities Child Care and Development Centers (MCCCDC). In recognition of her work on behalf of impoverished children and families in central Appalachia, Kemplen was presented in 1980 with the American Institute for Public Service’s Jefferson Award for Outstanding Public Service Benefi ting Local Communities.

Kemplen movingly describes her struggles to educate herself, her years as a teacher in rural schools and mining camps, and the establishment of MCCCDC. The book is more, however, than a catalog of Kemplen’s accomplishments; it is a testament to the personal qualities that fueled them. Kemplen’s straightforward observations on her life and work offer unique insight into a range of issues related to Appalachian and Native American life and culture.

Page count: 192 pp.
Trim size: 6 x 9


List price: $22.95

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