A 1983 graduate of the MA program in Appalachian Studies, Mary Jane Putzel wrote narratives about the history of her community of Pottertown, at the headwaters of the north fork of the New River. As a woman moving between the rural community in the high mountains of Ashe and Watauga Counties, and the industrial town of Lenoir, she also wrote poetry as cultural description and critique. Upon her death in the fall of 2000, Mary Jane's family allowed the Center to duplicate her writings. Research with surviving family members is ongoing, and will be compiled into an edited volume featuring many of her writings.
2005 graduate Vicky Hayes wrote her thesis on Mary Jane, entitled The Ballad of Mary Jane. Hayes explains that her "thesis presents the creative and academic writings of Mary Jane in the context of her history as a Pottertown resident and a 1983 graduate of the Appalachian Studies master's program...[The thesis] explores the relationship of cultural studies to an Appalachian Student...[and] discusses the formative years of a young writer and demonstrates how a particularly enriched and artistic environment can exist in an unlikely setting."