Mary is a folklorist, ethnographer, and writer. Since the early 1990s her work focused on the cultural dimensions of ecological crisis in the southern West Virginia coalfields. As a folklife specialist with the American Folklife Center, Library of Congress, she directed an ethnographic survey of the New River Gorge National River from 1991-1993, to assist the National Park Service in planning for heritage interpretation. In her second project, the Coal River Folklife Project, she compiled a cultural history of the mixed mesophytic forest in southern West Virginia. This project yielded more than five hundred hours of audio recording and several thousand photographs by Lyntha and Terry Eiler, a selection of which appear as an online American Memory Presentation at the Library of Congress, which Hufford curated and wrote.
From 2001-2008 Hufford directed the Center for Folklore and Ethnography at the Folklore Faculty at the University of Pennsylvania. Hufford served on the editorial board of the Encyclopedia of Appalachia. She has given expert testimony against the destruction of cultural properties in the coalfields by mountaintop removal mining. With the support of a J.S. Guggenheim Fellowship, Hufford is working on a book about deep community forestry in southern West Virginia. For this proposal, Mary will reach out to community based participatory researchers through the creation and use of a questionaire, assess the level of involvement and interest from each researcher, and provide these contacts to Jen for followup. She will also help to guide the formation of the Scholar-Activist Alliance.