Accession Number: 44
Red Bird Mission Records
Selected Records 1921-1981
Selected Photographs 1920-1985
Part A: Selected Records
Part B: Selected Photographs
Access and Use:
Provenance: Red Bird Mission records were collected
and organized in 1982. Those having administrative, legal or historical
value were microfilmed at the Kentucky Department for Libraries
and Archives and all then returned to the Mission. The resultant
microfilm master negative is owned by Berea College. A user copy
is available for researchers. Selected photographs were also organized
and copied. The copy negatives and a set of copy prints are owned
by Berea College. A second set of copy prints and all originals
were returned to Red Bird Mission.
Copyright: Berea College does not own the copyright
for the manuscripts or printed documents included in this microfilm
edition. Therefore, it is the researcher's responsibility to secure
permission to publish from the Red Bird Mission or its successors
and assigns. Permission has been granted by Red Bird Mission for
Berea College to reproduce all or part of the school's photographs
and to use them in slide or film presentations, display them or
loan them for displays, and to allow their use by researchers for
reproduction and publication.
Preferred Citation: The proper credit line for
all of the above uses shall be, "Red Bird Mission Records, Berea
College Special Collections & Archives, Berea, Ky."
Overview of the Collection
These are selected records and photographs documenting the extensive
religious, educational, and health programming conducted by Red
Bird Mission in adjoining portions of Knox, Clay, Leslie, Harlan,
and Bell counties, Kentucky. This collection was compiled during
the late 1970s and early 1980s by the Settlement Institutions of
Appalachia / Berea College Research Resources Project, which was
funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). The
project's purpose was to organize and preserve the original records
and photographs of the Settlement Institutions of Appalachia (SIA)
and to copy those of historical value to form a central research
collection at Berea College.
Related Berea College Archives
Henderson Settlement School Records, 1925-1984, SAA 49
The Board of Missions of the mid-western based Evangelical Church
began considering eastern Kentucky's Red Bird River region for
a home mission project in 1919. On the recommendation of Rev. William
Buyers, a Presbyterian minister from Hyden, Leslie County, Kentucky,
a Board-appointed committee visited the area and found that residents
were receptive to the idea of a mission. The first Mission worship
service was held in a tiny schoolhouse at Beverly in Bell County
on May 29, 1921. The Rev. B.H. Niebel preached to over100 people
who had come walking or on horseback.
Educational efforts soon got underway with the arrival of two
teachers, from Pennsylvania and Illinois respectively. Perhaps
the most tangible initial help provided by the Mission was in the
form of cash. Seventy-five cents a day was paid to each community
worker who helped saw logs and build a residence for the Mission's
first superintendent, Rev. John J. DeWall. A school building serving
100 grade school children and six high school students was in place
by 1922. Also that year the Mission Board approved plans for a
dormitory, four additional workers, and a nurse. Later Dr. Harlan
Heim, a graduate of Cornell Medical School, arrived and by 1928
a hospital had been built.
The Mission's efforts at Beverly attracted interest from surrounding
communities. The result was a complex, widespread organization
that by the 1980s included 21 churches, an accredited K-12 school,
an early childhood development program, a hospital, an outpatient
clinic, a craft sales outlet, a used clothing store, and a summer
work camp program. Over the years Mission staff have also actively
cooperated with government and private agency efforts in promoting
economic development and affordable housing.
14 Manuscript Boxes
||Historical Studies and Publications,
This series consists of materials, mostly published, detailing
Mission people and programs.
||Annual Council Meetings, Minutes and
The annual Mission Workers Council meetings are documented in
minutes and reports of the superintendent, Mission department heads,
standing committees, and out-station staff.
||Red Bird Mission Directors' Office Files,
||Reels 12-17, 5-9
This series consists of the non-current administrative and vital
records found in the office of Edward Ehresman, director of Red
Bird Mission Incorporated (1973-1980s).
||Red Bird Missionary Conference Director's
This series consists of the Mission's non-current administrative
files found in the office of Joseph Davis, Director of the Red
Bird Missionary Conference (1977 to present).
||Red Bird Mission Hospital Office Files,
This series consists of the non-current administrative and operational
records found in the office of Douglas Webb, Mission Hospital Administrator
(1977 to 1981ff).
This series consists of 698 images which provide visual documentation
of Red Bird Mission from the 1920s through the mid 1980’s.
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