Accession Number: 21
Perley F. Ayer (1900-1967)
Bulk Dates: 1959-1967
5.8 linear feet
Overview & Series Description
Series I- Personal/Biographical
Series II- Correspondence
Series III- Speeches and Interviews
Series IV - Photographs
Series V- Printed Materials
Series VI - Subjects
Series VII - Writings
Series VIII - Great Cities/Gray Areas
Series IX - Sound Recordings
Overview of the Collection
These are papers, memorabilia, and sound recordings relating to Perley F. Ayer,
Berea College instructor (1947-1967) and executive director of the Council of
the Southern Mountains (1951-1967).
Related Berea College Archives
Council of the Southern Mountains Records,
1912-1970, SAA 1
Ayer, a native of New Hampshire, was educated at the University
of New Hampshire (B.S. 1922), and at Cornell University (M.S.
1947). Prior to coming to Berea in 1947, Ayer had been employed
extension agent in New Hampshire and as an instructor at Pleasant
Hill Academy in Pleasant Hill, Tennessee. He worked at Berea
College as supervisor of an agricultural training program in the
School, as a field representative for the Admissions office,
and later as an instructor in sociology. He was appointed executive
secretary of the Council of the Southern Mountains in 1951 and
continued in that position until his death in 1967. The Council,
a non-profit corporation whose general goal was improvement of
social, health, and economic conditions in the Southern Appalachian
region, had been in existence since 1912, but by 1951 had suffered
decreased membership and diminished influence. Ayer is credited
with reviving interest in the council's programs during his fifteen-year
tenure and also with making the Council perhaps the largest and
most significant social organization in the southern mountains.
Materials include miscellaneous correspondence; speeches and
related notes; articles; and program materials reflecting Ayer's
activities as executive director of the
Council of the Southern Mountains (CSM), as well as his general interest in
improving the quality of life in the region. Correspondence details
efforts, arrangements for speaking engagements, and the Council's publication
of Mountain Life and Work. Other materials document Ayer's work with
the Ford Foundation's Great Cities / Gray Areas Project (1960-1964). In this
the Foundation utilized Ayer as a part-time consultant and, through the CSM,
funded workshops and consultant services to enable urban educators to aid rural
children in adjusting to the urban environment. Materials reflect Ayer's participation
in such workshops at numerous urban centers including Baltimore, Boston, Chicago,
Cleveland, Detroit, St. Louis, and Washington, D.C., among others. Also included
are reports to the Foundation, expense accounts, correspondence, and meeting
agendas, as well as newspaper clippings and correspondence relating to Ayer's
death and the memorial fund subsequently established in his name (1967-1968).
14 Manuscript Boxes
This series consists of biographical information about Perley
Ayer, personal correspondence, clippings relating to his death,
and various certificates and awards. Also included are appointment
calendars and scrapbooks documenting speaking engagements and his
work with the CSM.
This series includes correspondence relating to Ayer's work with
the CSM, accounts from friends involved in the War on Poverty,
and letters regarding his various speaking engagements. Student
comments on Ayer's teaching at Berea's Foundation School are also
This series consists of notes, manuscripts, and clippings relating
to Ayer's numerous speeches on education, literacy, and Appalachia.
Also included are news accounts of his speaking engagements, interview
preparation notes and published interviews relating to Ayer's philosophy
of education and his concerns for Appalachia.
This series consists of CSM publicity photos of Ayer relating
to various public appearances, including a visit to Iron Mountain
Stoneware in Abingdon, Virginia.
This series consists of miscellaneous published materials that
may have served as resource in various aspects of Ayer's work.
This series consists of fragmentary correspondence and notes
relating the Council of the Southern Mountain, Kentucky Welfare
Association and the War on Poverty.
This series consists of correspondence, agendas and minutes of
||Ford Foundation Great Cities/Gray Areas Project
This series consists of material relating to Ayer's work as a
project consultant, including expenses, fragmentary correspondence,
and reports from individual cities involved in the Project. Also
included are related publications, clippings, and correspondence.
This series consists of fifteen open reel sound recordings that
document several of Ayer's speeches and radio interviews during
the early 1960s. Cassette listening copies are included.
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