Hutchins Library
Special Collections & Archives
Guide to the Records of the National Advisory Commission on Rural Poverty

Accession Number: 15
The Records of the National Advisory Commission on Rural Poverty
3.3 Linear Feet
Online Catalog Record (BANC)

Series Description
Series I - Commission Notebooks
Series II - Correspondence and General Information
Series III - Transcripts of Hearings
Series IV - Miscellaneous Reports and Technical Papers
Series V - Draft Report: Poverty in Rural America
Series VI - Report: The People Left Behind
Series VII - Miscellany

Access and Use:

Provenance: These papers represent the Commission-related papers of Francis S. Hutchins, a member of the National Advisory Commission on Rural Poverty (NACRP) and a former president of Berea College. President Hutchins placed these records in the Berea College Archives, and the files were opened for research in September of 1978.

Preferred Citation: The Records of the National Advisory Commission on Rural Poverty, Berea College Special Collections & Archives, Berea, Ky.

Overview of the Collection

These records of the work of the NACRP during the late 1960s include notes of Commission meetings, correspondence, transcripts of hearings in four cities, related source material, and the detailed report and recommendations made to President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1967. Audio recordings of the Berea hearing are also included.


President Lyndon B. Johnson formed the Commission on Rural Poverty in 1966 to advise him concerning legislative actions to be taken in waging his administration’s national “war on poverty.” Executive Order Number 11306, which created the Commission, stated that its task was to:

  • Make a comprehensive study and appraisal of the current economic situations and trends in American rural life.
  • Evaluate the means by which existing programs, and policies . . . may be coordinated . . . to achieve elimination of . . . low income of rural people.
  • Develop recommendations for local, state or federal governments . . . as to the most sufficient . . . means of providing opportunities for rural population to share in America’s abundance.

The Commission wrote technical papers and filed special reports containing its summaries and recommendations based on the information offered by citizens throughout the United States at public hearings held in Tucson, Arizona; Memphis, Tennessee; Washington, D.C.; and Berea, Kentucky. Testimony was also taken in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. The Commission’s final report, entitled The People Left Behind, together with its findings, establish a public record of a national attempt to abolish the problem of rural poverty. The Commission was dissolved by the administration of President Richard M. Nixon in 1969.

The Berea Hearings

The Commission’s Berea hearing, held on January 12, 1967, was chaired by Francis S. Hutchins, President of Berea College, and focused on rural poverty in eastern Kentucky. Thirty area residents, including three Berea College students, offered observations and recommendations regarding ways to improve their communities' health, employment, and education. Among those heard from were Kentucky governor and Commission chairman, Edward T. Breathitt; Thomas R. Ford, University of Kentucky Sociologist; and Burton Rodgers and Alvin Boggs of Harlan County's Pine Mountain Settlement School.

Series Description
8 Manuscript Boxes

Series I Commission Notebooks Box 1

This series consists of typescript notebooks compiled by Commission member Francis Hutchins. They consist of materials meant for internal use that mainly reflect discussions and preliminary findings resulting from the Commission's third meeting, held May 3, 4, and 5, 1967, at Kentucky's Natural Bridge State Park.

Series II Correspondence and General Information Boxes 1-2

This series consists of Commission information, announcements, minutes of various meetings, correspondence, notes, statements on hearings, clippings, etc.

Series III Transcripts of Hearings Boxes 2-4

Transcripts of hearings held by the Rural Poverty Commission in Berea, Memphis, Washington, and Tucson.

Series IV Miscellaneous Reports and Technical Papers Boxes 4-5

Independent reports submitted to the commission relating to various aspects of rural poverty.

Series V Draft Report: Poverty in Rural America Box 6

This series consists of a preliminary 15-chapter report prepared for use only by Commission members and staff.

Series VI Report: The People Left Behind Boxes 6-7

This series consists of near-final drafts and the published version of the Commission’s final report to the President, entitled The People Left Behind. Each of the draft chapters is headed by the notation “Preliminary, for Commission Use Only.”

Series VII Miscellany Boxes 7-8

An assortment of pamphlets and miscellaneous items related to the subject of poverty are included in this series.

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