Hutchins Library
Special Collections & Archives
Guide to the Helen Dingman Papers

Accession Number: 25
Helen Dingman Papers, 1917-1945
.4 linear ft.
Online Catalog Record (BANC)

Series I - Correspondence
Series II - Diaries
Series III - Subject File
Series IV - Writings and Publications
Series V - Photographs

Access and Use

Preferred Citation: The Helen Dingman Papers, Berea College Special Collections & Archives, Berea, Ky.

Overview of the Collection

These are the correspondence, diaries, subject files, writings/publications, and photographs of Helen Hastie Dingman.

Related Archives

Council of the Southern Mountains Records, 1912-1970, SAA 1
John C. Campbell Folk School Collection, 1909-1981, SAA 24


Helen Hastie Dingman was born in New York, but from 1917-1922 was head of the Community Life School at Smith in Harlan County, Kentucky. In 1922, she returned to New York to serve for two years as Assistant Superintendent of Field Work for the Women’s Board of Home Missions of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). In 1924, she joined the staff of Berea College and served as Supervisor of Social Training and Service to Mountains Schools until 1952. At Berea, she helped found the Opportunity School program (1925) and was instrumental in the establishment of social work as a profession in Kentucky. She was editor of Mountain Life and Work from 1926 to 1942 and Executive Secretary of the Council of the Southern Mountains from 1929 to 1942. Helen Dingman died in 1978.

1 Manuscript Box

Series I Correspondence Box 1

These are the letters of Helen Dingman written to members of her family, detailing her projects and experiences at Smith, Kentucky (1917-1921). Included are accounts of building programs, community activities, conditions in the mountains, and moonshining.

Box 1

  1. Correspondence Sep-Oct 1917
  2. Correspondence Nov-Dec 1917
  3. Correspondence Jan-May 1918
  4. Correspondence Jun 1918-Jul 1919
  5. Correspondence Aug 1919- Jun 1920
  6. Correspondence Aug 1920- May 1921
Series II Diaries Box 1, cont.

These detail the social service and extension work of Helen Dingman’s field trips in the area around Berea College. The diaries document social and educational conditions in the Eastern Kentucky Mountains (1924-1927). Also included is a diary of a brief outreach in Rocky Fort, Tennessee (1916).

Box 1, continued

  1. Diary-Rocky Fork, Tenn. Jun 10-July 1, 1916
  2. Diary-Berea Sep 1924-Jan 1925
  3. Diary-Berea Sep 1925-Dec 1926
  4. Diary-Berea Sep 1927-Oct 1928
  5. Diary-Berea, Report to Eastern KY. Reconstruction Committee Sep 1926-Dec 1927
Series III Subject File Box 1, cont.

Notes, clippings, excerpts of correspondence, articles, and other items concerning the opportunity store, community activities, conditions in the mountains, and rural education.

Box 1, continued

  1. Building Experiences / Community Activities / Cooperative Store.
  2. Family Interview Form
  3. Moonshine / Mountain Conditions / Mountain Friends and their Homes / “My Horse Trade”
  4. Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) / School Activities / Working with Schools
  5. Reports, Smith Community exchange Cooperative Store.
  6. “Rural Teaching in the Kentucky Mountains” by W.T. Brown
Series IV Writings and Publications Box 1, cont.

Included are short stories relating incidents in the mountains, reports concerning mountain children and education and a memorial issue of Mountain Life and Work dedicated to Olive Dame Campbell.

Box 1, continued

  1. Short Stories, Reports and Articles, and Mountain Life and Work
Series V Photographs Box 1, cont.

Two views: one of Helen Dingman with her co-workers and one of the house in which she lived during her work at Smith, Kentucky.

Box 1, continued

  1. Photographs

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