Free Owsley Sunday Film: Dreadful Memories: The Life of Sarah Ogan Gunning

Appalshop at 50

Dreadful Memories: The Life of Sarah Ogan Gunning

Directed by Mimi Pickering

Sunday, November 3, 1 pm



For decades, Sarah Ogan Gunning wrote and performed hauntingly beautiful ballads about the lives of working people. Born in the eastern Kentucky coalfields in 1910, Gunning lived through the organizing drives and coal mine strikes of the 1920s and ’30s and the bitter poverty of the Great Depression. Facing starvation, Sarah, her brother Jim Garland, and her half‑sister “Aunt Molly” Jackson moved their families to New York City where they had an early influence on the folk music revival.

This program intercuts Gunning’s most affecting songs with rare documentary film clips and photographs of early mining life. Comments from relatives and such friends as Pete Seeger, Hazel Dickens, and Archie Green help to tell Gunning’s story and speak of her personal strength and cultural significance. 1988, U.S., digital video, 38 minutes. Recommended for 12+.