Hutchins Library
Special Collections & Archives
Guide to the Hazel Green Academy Collection, History

Accession Number: 46
Hazel Green Academy Collection
Selected Records and Photographs 1886-1982
14.1 Linear Feet, 34 boxes
Online Catalog Record (BANC)

Series Description
Part A - Selected Documents, 1903-1982
        Series I - Historical Sketches and Publications, 1886-1981
        Series II - Directors' Files, 1906-82
             Subseries A: General, c. 1933-80
             Subseries B: Financial Records, 1906-82
        Series III - Principals' Files, 1892-1982
        Series IV - Personnel Records, 1927-82 (Restricted)
        Series V - Former Students and Friends Association, 1940-82
        Series VI - Student Records, 1903-82 (Restricted)
Part B - Photographs, c. 1912- c.1980
        Series I - General File, 1930-1983
        Series II - Early Years, 1892-1930

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Hazel Green Academy was founded in 1880 in the small farming community of Hazel Green, in Wolfe County, Kentucky. At the urging of his wife Lou Ellen, W.O. Mize, along with two other men of the Hazel Green community, J.T. Day and Green Berry Swango, financed and established the Academy. The founders remained responsible for the school until 1886, when it came under the auspices of the Christian Women's Board of Missions, a missions arm of the Disciples of Christ (Christian) Church. In 1919, another division of the Christian Church, the United Christian Missionary Society (UCMS), headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana, became the governing body and the major source of financial support for the Academy.

Established at a time when few eastern Kentucky roads were passable the year round, and 28 years before Kentucky provided for the establishment and maintenance of public high schools, Hazel Green Academy began as a boarding school and remained so until 1983. Although the Academy teaching staff during those years numbered few more than a half-dozen, grades 1-12 were offered until 1929, when grades 1-6 were discontinued. The Academy continued to teach grades 7-12 until 1965, by which time grades 7 and 8 were no longer being offered.

The purpose and philosophy of the school during the early years is articulated in the earliest surviving catalogue:

"Hazel Green Academy is established as a Mission for the Kentucky mountains; hence its very low rates of tuition, and the offer of the managers to educate free of charge the worthy indigent. It is intended to bring it within the power of the poorest in this world's goods to secure a good education. It is hoped the Academy may serve as a stepping stone to college and a higher sphere in life to some who otherwise might never have an aspiration beyond the life of their fathers. By giving young men and women a taste of better things, we hope to fill them with a noble ambition to rise in life."

This philosophy was repeated in subsequent catalogues and elaborated upon in a 1919 statement referring to the philosophy of President William G. Frost of Berea College:

". . . the mountain boys and girls should come into school, be trained and sent back to their homes in the mountains, each becoming a bit of leaven to leaven the whole lump. . ."

In keeping with its goal of being a steppingstone to a college career, the Academy established a curriculum composed primarily of college preparatory courses. However, as early as 1888 many Kentucky mountain teachers were attending its normal school. By 1900, the Academy was offering a two-year course of training for the ministry, and by 1903 had established a Commercial Department which taught a five-month business course. In 1908, an Industrial Department appears in the school catalogue. In addition to its academic offerings, the school emphasized participation in extracurricular activities such as oratorical and declamatory contests and athletics, and required membership in school literary societies. Participation in religious activities, both on and off-campus, was expected of HGA students and staff.

Like other mountain schools located far from commercial centers, Hazel Green lacked community utilities and communications systems. Consequently the Academy acquired fairly extensive land holdings, built a sizable physical plant, and established its own electric and water systems. The years between 1928 and 1950 were the years of greatest growth for the Academy, particularly in the area of community service.

Director Henry Stovall is generally seen to be the central figure behind this process of growth and outreach. With the support of the UCMS, which wanted the Academy to extend its work beyond the campus, a small on-campus hospital, a 212-acre demonstration farm, a kindergarten and a used-clothing store were established. As late as the 1930s, the Academy generated electricity for the campus and the town from the basement of the old Industrial Arts Building. New construction between 1928 and 1950 included a dairy barn and the first silo in the county, a deep well supplying all of the Academy's water, the Administration Building, and the school's first gymnasium. Faculty and students taught Sunday school classes and organized prayer groups for local church congregations that did not have pastors. For a number of years, the Academy held regular movie showings, folk dances, and athletic events to which the community was invited. In 1945, the school planted a big garden that work campers helped harvest and can. The Academy donated the resultant 6 1/2 tons of food for European relief.

By the 1950s, Hazel Green Academy was reporting many of the same problems that were beginning to affect other small, private, church-related schools which had been founded to meet the needs of rural mountain communities of the early 1900s. Modernized road systems made it possible to attend nearby public schools, which by this time were able to offer a comparable education at less cost to the student. The public schools offered higher salaries and demanded less of the teachers' time than did the private boarding school. Students who were not specifically interested in religious studies were less attracted to the church-oriented institutions than to public schools. During those two decades and into the 1970s, the Academy experienced difficulties in maintaining full enrollment and in attracting and keeping teachers. Rising costs made the operation and maintenance of the physical plant an increasing burden.

During the 1950s and 1960s, the Academy continued many of its community programs. It co-sponsored a bookmobile program between 1958 and 1960, opened a community library in the 1960s, and continued its kindergarten program. From 1956 through 1959, the school operated a community health clinic, which provided the first mass polio immunization program for Wolfe County. The Academy continued to run the demonstration farm into the 1960s, to supply meat, eggs, vegetables, and milk for students and staff who lived on campus.

In 1970 the Division of Home Ministries, the branch of the Christian Church then overseeing the operation of the Academy, began to turn over administrative and financial responsibility to the Academy. Although the Christian Church continued to support and contribute to the Academy, after 1971 it became an independent institution affiliated with the Christian Church. Citing the continuance of many of the problems beginning in the 1950s and 1960s, the school underwent a number of evaluations conducted by outside organizations, with particular emphasis on determining how best to continue its program. The Academy decided to continue its operation as a boarding high school, setting as its major goals the strengthening of the fundraising and recruiting programs, and taking steps to ensure a low turnover of teaching staff.

Although consistently faced with the same basic problems--difficulty in attracting students and faculty, an expensive physical plant, and other financial difficulties--Hazel Green Academy was able to maintain its boarding high school until 1983. On June 30, 1983, pointing to the increasing deficit incurred in the process of improving program and salaries as the primary problem, the Board of Directors unexpectedly voted not to reopen the school in the fall of 1983. The facility has been renamed the Hazel Green Christian Center. The Division of Homeland Ministries of the Disciples of Christ, which is still the owner of the property, has retained a small staff and expressed the intention to continue to use the facility in some capacity.

Series Description
54 Microfilm Reels in 9 boxes
9 manuscript boxes
6 slide boxes
8 boxes of negatives
1 oversize box
1 box of copy prints

Part A: Documents and Records

Series I Historical Studies and Publications, 1886-1982 Reels 38-41

The majority of the various papers comprising this series were produced at the school, the most notable exceptions being the histories by Oscar Harmon and Donna Lou Jones. The series is divided into five sections, each arranged in chronological order: 1) historical and biographical sketches; 2) unpublished promotional materials; 3) staff publications; 4) student publications and writings; and 5) vertical files and files on school programs and events.

Series IIa Directors' Files, 1906-82,General Reels 41-44

This sub-series consists of the extant administrative files of Henry Stovall (1928-66) and George Buchanan (1966-80). For the most part, the records date from 1955-80 and include minutes of and reports to the Academy's advisory and governing boards, and formal evaluations of the Hazel Green program and facilities by staff members and outside professional specialists. The documentation prior to 1955 is sporadic and limited to contracts, deeds, and miscellaneous listings of personnel.

Series IIb Directors' Files, 1906-82, Financial Records Reels 44-49

Financial reports, beginning with the fiscal year ending June 1955, were included in the Directors' reports to the Advisory Board and Board of Directors and have remained with the minutes of these meetings in Sub-series A or the Directors' Files. Financial Records for the years 1906-1982 comprise the records documenting the financial operations of the school. The audits completed in the 1970s indicate that the Academy's bookkeeping system consisted primarily of a record of receipts and disbursements totaled at the end of each month and year to ascertain whether the school was operating at a profit or a loss, not accounting for inventories, capital improvements and other sources of income and expense until relatively recently. The extant financial records are mostly cash receipts and disbursements ledgers, thus supporting that indication.

Series III Principals' Files, 1892-1982 Reels 49-52

The principals' files are made up primarily of materials compiled for the purpose of state accreditation, school catalogues, and handbooks of rules and regulations to be followed by students and teachers. Annual reports filed by the Academy with the Kentucky Department of Public Instruction (1921-56) and the Kentucky Department of Education (1956-81), cover nearly two-thirds of the years that the school has been in existence. These standard state forms, filed once or twice yearly, provide detailed information concerning curriculum, names and credentials of teaching staff, enrollment and facilities, as well as some statistics on graduates. Together with the certificates of accreditation, these files provide substantive information about the quality and type of education offered by Hazel Green Academy which is of a more statistical nature than that found in the school catalogues and other promotional writings.

Series IV Personnel Records, 1927-82 Reels 35-37

The personnel records begin with the employment of Henry and Dorothy Stovall, administrators and teachers at the Academy from 1928-66, and include records of former staff (clerical, maintenance, etc.) as well as of the faculty and administration. However, it is not clear that the file is complete as far back as 1928 since the majority of the notations as to beginning dates of employment are no earlier than the 1940s.

The files are arranged in alphabetical order and the typical file contains an application for employment, which includes some biographical information, transcripts, recommendations and resume, photographs of the employee, payroll sheets, and correspondence concerning benefits. Some of the files contain correspondence with the school prior to employment, outlining interests or questions. Other files show employees and their families maintained a correspondence for years after their departure from the school. Some files include news clippings from local papers, and materials about special awards ceremonies for the employee.

Series V Former Students and Friends Association, 1940-82 Reels 52-54

Although an Alumni Association was organized in 1923, its membership was small and it was a short-lived organization. There was apparently no further effort to form an alumni organization until 1940, the year that the Former Students Association expanded to include non-students, possibly in order to be of more assistance in school publicity and fund-raising campaigns; it renamed itself the Former Students and Friends Association around 1967. (The only documentation of this change is the 1967 Homecoming announcement, upon which the new name appears for the first time.) The files regarding this organization indicate that it was consistently a relatively large, well-supported organization which was not only interested in keeping up with former classmates and friends, but also concerned with the welfare of the Academy.

Series VI Student Records, 1903-82 (Restricted) Reels 1-34

This series is the permanent, official student record and consists of: 1) ledgers which document students enrolled in 1903 through those graduated in 1947; and 2) approximately 14 cubic feet of files which begin with the students enrolled in 1947 and end with 1982 graduates.

In addition to being a vital record of the school, the student records provide some insight into the home lives of students. They also outline the grading system, and document many of the rules and regulations of the school.

Part B: Photographs and Film

Series I General File, 1930-1983 Boxes 10-32

The prints making up the majority of this series can be classified as yearbook prints, most of which are unidentified. There are numerous "school days" portraits, images of clubs and activities, campus buildings, sports, and folk arts. The yearbook prints date from the 1950s to 1983. There are also many original duplicates of the loose prints in this series.

The slides complement this series in that they tend to "fill in" what the prints do not cover. A large majority of the slides represent the youth \work camp held during the summer, school activities, staff and student portrait its, and sports. The slides cover the more recent period of the school, but also include several slides in the late 1940s and early 1950s. There are also two 35mm filmstrips (with a phonograph album not in this collection) entitled "The Pathway to High Roads," a historical sketch of Hazel Green Academy.

Series II Early Years, 1892-1930 Boxes 33-33a

The majority of these prints are group photographs and portraits, although there are also prints of campus buildings and the town of Hazel Green. Many of these older prints were donated to Hazel Green by Mrs. Holman Todd (Mary Pieratt) and date mainly between 1892 and 1910, although there are also prints in this series as recent as 1930.

Also represented in this series is a group of photographs (originally framed) taken in 1919-1920 by Edward J. Ronsheim, a faculty member at Hazel Green. This collection was presented to the Academy in 1939, “in an effort to give those of other years a chance to see how things were twenty years ago.” Duplicates of some of the Ronsheim photographs are also present in Series II.

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