Hutchins Library
Special Collections & Archives
Guide To the Katherine Pettit Collection

Accession Number: 11
The Katherine Pettit Collection
Papers and Sound Recordings 1899-1937
2 ms. Boxes
8 Linear Ft.
Online Catalog Record (BANC)

Series I - Correspondence (1899-1935)
Series II- Diary Excerpts
Series III - Biography-Obituary
Series IV - Miscellaneous
Series V - Summer Program Reports

Related Berea College Archives

Hindman Settlement School Papers, SAA 9
Hindman Settlement School Records, 1899-1979, SAA 41
Pine Mountain Settlement School Records, 1913-1984, SAA 42
Pine Mountain Settlement School Collection, 1913-1975, SAA 10
J.A. Stucky Papers, 1903-1956, SAA 23


These are business and personal correspondence, narrative program reports, and diary transcriptions of Katherine Pettit, cofounder with May Stone of the Hindman Settlement School in Knott County, Kentucky.


Katherine Pettit was born in 1868 near Lexington, Kentucky, the child of Benjamin Pettit, a prosperous farmer. She went to schools in Lexington and Louisville and early, developed an interest in the social and educational problems of eastern Kentucky. Work in summer educational programs 1899-1901, conducted in Knott and Perry counties by the Kentucky Federation of Women’s Clubs, led to her developing a strong desire to make a permanent contribution to the area.

With financing from the Women's Christian Temperance Union, she and May Stone founded the WCTU Settlement School at Hindman in 1902. Its purpose was to “found, establish, carry on and maintain a school or schools for industrial, intellectual and moral training; to educate the youth of both sexes in habits of sobriety in the mountainous, destitute or needy portions of the State of Kentucky.” The school remained under the sponsorship of the Kentucky WCTU until 1915, when it was formally incorporated as a private, non-profit, non-sectarian, and non-denominational corporation and became known simply as the Hindman Settlement School.

In 1913 Pettit left Hindman for Harlan County, Kentucky where, with Ethel de Long, she established Pine Mountain Settlement School. She served there as co-director until retirement in 1930. For the next five years she employed herself in what she termed “free lance work,” travelling throughout Harlan County urging men to leave welfare and return to farming. She died in Lexington of cancer in 1936 at the age of sixty-eight.

Series Description
2 Manuscript Boxes

Series I Correspondence (1899-1935) Box 1

This series consists of both business and personal correspondence. Subjects include Hindman and Pine Mountain Settlement Schools, students recommended for admission to Berea College, and an account of a 1932 trip to South America.

Box 1
  1. Correspondence - schools 1899-1923
  2. Correspondence - schools 1924-1929
  3. Correspondence - personal 1930-1935
  4. Correspondence - personal 1932

Series II   Diary Excerpts Box 1, cont.

This series consists twenty-two, undated, typewritten pages transcribed from a Pettit diary.

Box 1, Cont.

  1. Diary Entry Transcriptions n.d.

Series III Biography-Obituary Box 1, cont.

This series consists of correspondence and published tributes relating to Pettit’s death in 1936.

Box 1, Cont.

  1. Biography / Obituary 1936-1937
Series IV Miscellaneous Box 1, cont.

This series consists of miscellaneous correspondence, news clippings, a Pettit photograph, membership certificate, and an anonymous manuscript entitled “A Mountain Funeralizing.” (The style of writing and attention to detail, especially in the description of speech patterns, suggest Josiah Combs as a likely author.)

Box 1, Cont.

  1. Miscellaneous material and photograph 1899-1936
  2. Louisville Commercial article (transcript) July 8, 1885 Re: creation of Knott County, KY
  3. “A Mountain Funeralizing” - Anonymous Manuscript [1928]

Series V Summer Program Reports  Boxes 1-2  

This series consists of Pettit and May Stone’s accounts of their 1899-1901 work experiences in Knott and Perry counties that led to the establishment of the WCTU Settlement School. The Camp Industrial report includes a long list of program participants and transcriptions of letters from them to Pettit and Stone.

Box 1, Cont.

  1. Camp Cedar Grove, Hazard, KY, Summer 1899
  2. Camp Industrial, pp. 10-31, June-August 1900
  3. Camp Industrial, pp. 32-45, June-August 1900
  4. Camp Industrial, pp. 46-74, June-August 1900
  5. Camp Industrial, pp. 75-88, June-August 1900
Box 2
  1. Sassafras, KY, pp. 1-20, July-October 1901
  2. Sassafras, KY, pp. 21-40, July-October 1901
  3. Sassafras, KY, pp. 41-70, July-October 1901
  4. Sassafras, KY, pp. 71-100, July-October 1901
  5. Sassafras, KY, pp. 101-130, July-October 1901
  6. Sassafras, KY, pp. 131-157, July-October 1901

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