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 Digital Collections

 

About this collection

The Ralph W. Hood and W. Paul Williamson Holiness Churches of Appalachia Recordings and Interviews digital collection features a representative sampling of church services and interviews documenting contemporary serpent handlers of Southern Appalachia. Ranging from 1975 to 2004, this collection focuses on the major Pentecostal congregations that practice speaking in tongues, imbibing poisons, and serpent handling in the southeastern United States.

For over 20 years, Professors Ralph W. Hood and W. Paul Williamson spent time observing, researching, and fellowshipping with believers in the serpent handling tradition.

"Perhaps one of the most interesting forms of American religion involves Christians who, in response to a perceived mandate in the Bible, include among their worship practices the handling of poisonous serpents. What appears to the casual observer as a dangerous and bizarre activity is a simple act of obedience that holds great significance and meaning for believers who subscribe to a literal interpretation of a passage in the Book of Mark."

Ralph W. Hood and W. Paul Williamson, Them That Believe

Hood and Williamson's research has resulted in a unique collection of video footage that documents most of the major serpent handling congregrations, including:

  • Church of God in Jesus Christ's Name, Del Rio, Tennessee
  • Church of the Lord Jesus, Jolo, West Virginia
  • Church of the Lord Jesus Christ Kingston, Georgia
  • Church of the True Believers in Jesus' Name Calhoun, Georgia
  • Full Gospel Tabernacle in Jesus' Name, Middlesboro, Kentucky
  • Rock House Holiness Church, Sand Moutain, Alabama

Visit Special Collections & University Archives to conduct research with the entire collection, which includes more that 400 hours of video footage.

Publication (print or online), quotation, broadcast, or exhibition of Ralph W. Hood and W. Paul Williamson Holiness Churches of Appalachia Recordings and Interviews videos requires permission from Professor Ralph W. Hood.

 
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