The Southern Appalachian Archives are a rich storehouse of manuscripts and collections, which document regional and local history. Notable among the treasures held in the Southern Appalachian Archives are:
- The Bascom Lamar Lunsford Collection, which includes an oversized scrapbook, photographs, sound recordings, transcribed ballads, and other memorabilia (Lunsford Collection Brochure);
- The James G. K. McClure Collection, which includes over 3,000 photographs documenting western North Carolina agriculture from the 1920s to the early 1950s and a vast array of materials from the Farmers Federation and the Lord’s Acre Initiatives, including recordings of several Farmers Federation Picnics;
- A variety of collections featuring western North Carolina mountain musicians–the Byard Ray Festival Collection, the Jackie Ward Collection featuring selected materials from the Mountain Dance and Folk Festival and Shindig on the Green, the Bascom Lamar Lunsford Minstrel of Appalachia Festival Collection, the Madison County Heritage Festival Ballad and Story Swap Collection, the Obray Ramsey Memory Collection, the Tommy Hunter Memory Collection, and the Dellie Norton Collection.
Other special collections include:
- Southern Appalachian Photographic Archives;
- Gertrude M. Ruskin Collection of Cherokee Indian artifacts and materials;
- Evelyn Underwood Collection of important Madison County early documents, photographs, and oral histories;
- University archives, including papers relating to the history of Mars Hill University.