Hutchins Library
Special Collections & Archives
Guide to the Pine Mountain Settlement School Records, History

Accession Number: 42
Pine Mountain Settlement School Records, 1911-1983
Selected Photographs, 1864-1984
Online Catalog Record (BANC)

Part A - Selected Records
        Series I - Board Minutes and Reports, 1913-1983
        Series II - Director's Office Files, 1911-1949
            Subseries A - Correspondence, 1916-1949
            Subseries B - Subject Files, 1911-1949
        Series III - Student Records, c. 1919-1949
        Series IV - Library Files, 1911-1983
Part B - Selected Photographs


Kentuckian Katherine Pettit and Smith College Graduate Ethel DeLong finalized the incorporation of Pine Mountain Settlement School (Harlan County, Kentucky) in 1913. Land for the school was donated by William and Sally Dixon Creech, early settlers who wanted wider educational opportunities for area children. Katherine Pettit had helped found Hindman Settlement School in 1902. As stated in its Article of Incorporation, the purpose of Pine Mountain Settlement School was to provide an education that focused on "industrial, intellectual and moral training --dominated by a Christian spirit and influences but entirely free from anything of a sectarian or denominational character."

The first classes were held in an open-sided schoolroom and housing was makeshift. However, with the help of architect Mary Rockwell Hook, buildings of native stone and wood were soon constructed. (Several of Mrs. Hook's buildings were still in use in 1980).

From the beginning, the school produced much of its own food, provided its own electricity, heat, recreation and entertainment. Until 1949, Pine Mountain was a boarding school. Students were required to work in order to help run the school, meet their educational expenses, and develop useful skills. The school also encouraged the learning and sharing of traditional music and dance. The academic program was a standard one for its time. However, many of the teachers attracted to the school were above average in education and interested in educating the whole person.

Community health services provided by Pine Mountain included vaccination, trachoma, dental, and maternity clinics. Health education was carried on in rural schools and extension centers that also offered homemaker's groups, community recreation, and Sunday Schools.

Death and/or retirement of the founders brought Glyn Morris to the directorship in 1931. Instead of solving socioeconomic problems with special services, he sought to address such problems through the school program itself. Morris and the staff emphasized the uniqueness of each student and focused on preparing them for the realities of life after leaving Pine Mountain. Staff restructured the curriculum and with the help of students, rewrote texts. First year students were given a survey course covering all areas of learning offered by the school. Second year students managed the cooperative store, sold shares, kept accounts, stocked shelves, and analyzed the nutritional value of foods sold. Third year students studied community life in the classroom and served as aides to health workers, teachers, and recreation workers. The fourth year was spent in intensive preparation for the work each student planned to pursue after finishing at Pine Mountain. Students also shared in the making and enforcing of rules governing student life through an elected Citizenship Committee.

This approach continued throughout the Glyn Morris years and to a large extent through the administrations of William D. Webb, 1942-44 and H.R.S. Benjamin, 1944-49. However, during the 1940s, the school began suffering acute financial problems, which eventually led to its coming under the direction of the Berea College Board of Trustees. With the end of the boarding program in 1949, Pine Mountain became part of the Harlan County school system.

During the directorship of Burton Rogers (1949-1972), Pine Mountain recruited and housed teachers, provided facilities and organized extracurricular activities for Harlan County children and young people. Settlement School staff started a preschool program, "The Little School," in 1963. A medical program continued until 1960, and later, space was provided for clinics run by the Harlan County Health Department and the Frontier Nursing Service.

In the 1960s the county school system decided that a larger public school would be built several miles from the Pine Mountain campus. In assessing facilities, capabilities, interests and educational needs of the day, Pine Mountain staff and the Board of Trustees concluded that they would begin to focus primarily on environmental education. Under the directorship of Alvin Boggs (1973-1983) formal programming began with school land used as the primary classroom. Programs are offered for adults as well as school-age groups. The School also began to host retreat groups, church camps and civic organizations, and since has sponsored such special programs as a class for emotionally disturbed children, an annual Christmas play, and a number of short courses and workshops.

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