For over 100 years Pine Mountain has been focused on enriching lives and connecting people through Appalachian place-based education for all ages.


 An in-depth digital look at the ARCHIVE at Pine Mountain Settlement School. The collections include photographs, documents, biographies, objects, video and other materials that describe the institution from its beginnings in 1913 to the present day. Many documents are available in FULL TEXT.
Work is ongoing.

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The Vision of the Pine Mountain Settlement School Archives is to provide a voice that will encourage transformations in our relationship to the cultures of the Appalachian region through access to a unique and extensive body of material about a rural settlement school within the region. The rural settlement school movement and its impact on the people of Eastern Kentucky and the Southern Appalachians is a story that has sometimes been misrepresented, romanticized, or only partially understood. We envision an accessible, deep, vibrant and vital resource that will encourage exploration and collaborative dialogue about the hidden and sometimes contested history of rural settlement schools. We envision a broader dissemination of research materials across all public, private, and federal sectors interested in Southern Appalachian cultures and life.

Our archival resources encompass over 105 years of the history of Pine Mountain Settlement School and its community. Access to regional rural settlement school archives has often been limited by the need to travel to collections or by their limited accessibility once on site. As a record of the forces that helped shape the Southern Appalachians these archives hold a wealth of history and memory. Further, the communities that formed the history and the memories have rarely been offered easy access to their history and memories.

Online resources now offer an opportunity to broadly share primary sources. With our digital offering of biographies, photographs, documents, media, commentary, and more, we seek to provide an engaging resource. It will work to open a virtual window to one corner of a little-understood movement and history. The rural settlement movement in Eastern Kentucky was a large movement but it was not uniform in mission or vision across the individual institutions. For example, Pine Mountain Settlement School, unlike many of its neighbors, was non-sectarian, highly experimental, and progressive in its educational programs. It remains committed to this foundation.

Today, we seek partnerships and collaborations that will enrich and enable broader dialogs on Appalachian cultures and that will ensure that no one voice will erase the many. We are committed to sharing the memories and the disparate voices of Pine Mountain Settlement School and its community as they have moved forward for over a century together in new times and new worlds. While our collections are focused on the twentieth-century and a narrow geography, our future is in the twenty-first-century as part of the global community. We are committed to a vision that will seek out new ways to grow our history and memories forward as vital and energetic educational models –To ” Enrich lives and connect people through Appalachian place-based education for all ages.” 


The Pine Mountain Settlement School archival mission supports the institutional mission and strategic planning goals. Our mission continues a history of multiple educational and social enrichment programs centered on the local community and beyond. Once a boarding school with a progressive educational curriculum, Pine Mountain School’s recent educational programming has moved away from residential education to multi-faceted offerings of short-term environmental, cultural, medical, social, agricultural, and art and craft programs and workshops. But, the archive has not moved away from, nor will it move away from, a commitment to place.

The programs at Pine Mountain Settlement School are evolving to meet the changing needs of the community and region. Today’s programming continues its focus on environmental education and educational support for students in local schools, as well as long-term partnerships with Appalachian centered programs and short-term workshops for all ages and all geographies.

“Hidden” and largely inaccessible for many years, the materials in the rich local archive are being organized, digitized and offered through this growing website. Current work with the archive is a volunteer effort. The efforts of Helen Wykle and Ann Angel Eberhardt grew out of their direct and early childhood association with the School. They began their digitization efforts in 2000 and have continued their efforts since that time. The digital offerings are comprised of their selections and the recommendations and inquiries of users of the material. The digital record reflects life in the Pine Mountain valley and in many parts of the Southern Appalachians from 1913 until the present. It highlights settlement school staff, the people in the surrounding community, buildings, journals, letters, farming practice, linguistics, weaving, dancing, singing, drinking, funeralizing, politicking, and much more. It is our mission to reach out to a broad range of interests including those of former students, former workers, new visitors, old visitors, coal miners, environmentalists, farmers, teachers and the broader public. We are eager to encourage new scholarship, new insights, new research directions and new friends for Pine Mountain Settlement School. We are always appreciative of contributions to keep our efforts maintained.

To visit the main page for the School click the link below. To access the Archive go to INDEX TO ARCHIVAL COLLECTIONS (also at the top of the page).






Between Kingdom Come and Hel-fer-Sartin, many a “tall tale” and “tell-all” has been spun. In January we bring you a few of these rich facts and fictions. “Comment” has been turned on so you may add your corrections and/or embellishments.

JAN 1  ALICE COBB STORIES “Trouble and Satisfaction” in NOTES November 1927″

JAN 2  ALICE COBB STORIES “Chris Anderson and Josiah Combs Accounts of Their Own ‘Death’ 

JAN 3  ALICE COBB STORIES “Walking the Railroad Ties”

JAN 4  ALICE COBB STORIES “John Shell in NOTES 1927”

JAN 5  ALICE COBB STORIES “The Big Log Little Girls”

JAN 6  ALICE COBB STORIES “Abner Boggs’s Lamentation for His Wife”

JAN 7  ALICE COBB STORIES “A Trip to Turkey Fork and Big Laurel, 1937”

JAN 8  ALICE COBB STORIES “Visit to Uncle Hen Turner, 1934”

JAN 9  ALICE COBB STORIES “Howard Burdine Tail of Old Red”

JAN 10 ALICE COBB STORIES “About Sarah Bailey, 1940”

JAN 11 ALICE COBB STORIES “Death of Manilla Blevin’s Alice”

JAN 12  ALICE COBB STORIES “May Graveyard Meeting at Big Laurel, 1934”

JAN 13  ALICE COBB STORIES “Party for Logging Boys May 25, 1934”

JAN 14  ALICE COBB STORIES “Logging on Gabes Branch and Holiness Service”

JAN 15 ALICE COBB STORIES “Visit to the Harmon Turners … or Not …”



"On Big Laurel" Christmas card. n.d. [1940's?] Christmas card to Arthur Dodd and to PMSS staff.

01. John A. Spelman III, “On Big Laurel” Christmas Card. n.d. [1940’s?] Christmas card to Arthur Dodd and to PMSS staff. [spel_corrsp_001.jpg]

Christmas is one of the most memorable times of the year at Pine Mountain Settlement School. The holiday is eagerly anticipated by the whole community, particularly the presentation of the NATIVITY PLAY, a community event given in the Chapel at the School. December 17, 2017, 2:30 pm and 6:30 pm

Using a script written by founder Ethel de Long in the second decade of the twentieth century and costumed in mountain homespun and decorated with boughs of hemlock and pine from the nearby mountain, the solemn play is a simple and direct telling of the birth of Christ punctuated by Christmas carols and ballads. Within the setting of the small Chapel, the event is intimate and quietly inspirational.


When the Student Interviewers called at the big rambling smoky coal camp hotel to interview Lucille’s sister [Ruth?], who was applying for admission to Pine Mountain in 1933, Lucille appeared in the back hall, too timid to come out in the open with her rumpled towhead and bare feet. 

Her father, a deputy sheriff, had shot and killed Jim Lee. A few months later he [her father] was killed by George Lee, Jim’s brother. The mother had remarried, but not very successfully. “Her second husband had nine children of his own. His oldest daughter killed herself while working in a Harlan restaurant. The father went down, shot the proprietor, missed, and fled the county.”

The last remaining PMSS Girl’s Octet member died August 2017, in Cary, NC, at the age of 96. Her life is a remarkable journey of courage, optimism, service, success, and inspiration. Lucille Christian’s long association with her Pine Mountain Settlement School friends, her Berea College classmates, and the many friends she made on her life journey speak to the resilience of the human spirit in the face of adversity…. a lesson for us all.

 SEE WHAT’S NEW! ARCHIVE for older featured collections

Visit our partnering institution H-Net Commons and H-Kentucky.  

The partnership was launched June 1, 2016, with the assistance of Dr. Randolph Hollingsworth, Assistant Provost, University of Kentucky; President, H-Net:Humanities & Social Sciences On-Line, H-Kentucky and currently editor of H-Kentucky. On a visit to PMSS Dr. Hollingsworth described the goal of the H-Net network: “[It] …seeks to create an online collaborative environment to facilitate communication and the exchange or scholarly and pedagogical ideas among teachers, researchers, scholars, advanced students, and related professionals (e.g. local historians, librarians, archivists, genealogists), all in an open, democratic, respectful and non-partisan manner. H-Kentucky especially welcomes those who are interested in Kentucky, as well as those in any history/humanities field who live and/or work in Kentucky.”

For instructions on subscribing to H-Kentucky go to:


Comments and feedback regarding the material on this website or on the institutional history are welcomed. Comments directly on the website are not enabled.

Please contact or (606) 558-3571 with your inquiries and comments. We welcome your identification of people and activities on our site and, particularly, corrections to the record.











USE AGREEMENT (Reproduction Request Form)


Many of the texts included in this site have been automatically generated using Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software. In some cases, these texts have not been manually reviewed or corrected.

OCR enables searching of large quantities of full-text data, but it is not 100% accurate. The level of accuracy depends on the print quality of the original publication and its condition at the time of microfilming. Publications with poor quality paper, small print, mixed fonts, multiple column layouts or damaged pages may have poor OCR accuracy.


Any PUBLIC use of material must properly cite Pine Mountain Settlement School in the following manner:

 “[Identification of Item],” [Collection Name] [Series Number, if applicable]. [date], Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY. [date accessed]


The manuscript collections and archival records in the Pine Mountain Settlement School Collections may contain sensitive and/or confidential information that may be protected under federal and state right to privacy laws and regulations. Researchers who wish to publish and users who may share material from the Pine Mountain Settlement School Collections are advised by this notice that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in some collections within the Pine Mountain Settlement School Collections without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications (e.g. may be a cause of action under common law for invasion of privacy if facts concerning an individual’s private life are published that would be deemed highly offensive to a reasonable person.) for which Pine Mountain Settlement School assumes no responsibility.

If you believe that your privacy rights have been invaded please notify the following.

See INDEX TO COLLECTIONS for an overview of collections and series.