Pine Mountain Settlement School
Series 09: Staff/Personnel
Series 14: Medical, Health and Hygiene

GRACE M. ROOD (1897 – 1988)

 Nurse & Superintendent of the Infirmary 1936 – 1962

TAGS: Grace Rood ; Oberlin College ; Johns Hopkins School for Nurses ; India ; Oakham, MA ; nurses ; nursing ; medical ; medicine ; health ; health clinics ; diseases ; medical training ; nurse training ; education ; medical education ;

Grace Rood, R.N.

Grace Rood, R.N. with patient. [pmss_archives_rood.jpg]

For most of her life, Grace Rood took care of people. This was particularly true during her years at the Pine Mountain Settlement School, where she was a nurse and then superintendent in charge of the Infirmary, serving patients all over the back country in her trusty four-wheel-drive Jeep.

Miss Rood was born on March 27, 1897, to Henry Martyn Rood and Grace Sarah Fairbank Mellen Rood, in Mt. Vernon, New York, Soon after, her family moved to Port Chester, New York. There she attended elementary and high school. In 1919, the year she graduated with a B.A. from Oberlin (Ohio) College, she decided on a nursing career and attended Johns Hopkins School for Nurses in Baltimore, Maryland. While there she joined the Student Volunteer Union, a group interested in becoming missionaries. Her inspiration was likely from both sets of her grandparents who did missionary work in South Africa.

After graduation from Johns Hopkins in 1923 with an R.N. degree, she spent a year as a visiting nurse in her hometown of Port Chester before receiving a commission from the Oakham (Massachusetts) Congregational Church to work overseas as a missionary. On October 1, 1924, she left for southern India to become the superintendent of nurses and principal of the training school at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital. She remained in India for 5 1/2 years until illness necessitated a return to the United States.

After seven subsequent years with the Visiting Nurses Association of New Haven (Connecticut), Miss Rood came to the Pine Mountain Settlement School as hospital nurse in 1936. A short article about Miss Rood appeared in the February 1938 issue of Pine Cone, the School’s student publication:

As the nurse, Miss Grace M. Rood is responsible for the health of the school, supervises the community class, makes calls in each district, and receives patients from the outside. Besides this she conducts a class twice a week in practical nursing, has already made a talk in assembly on the common cold and tells delightful stories of her adventures in India.

Miss Rood is a graduate of Oberlin College, Oberlin, Ohio, and of John[s] Hopkins Nursing School in Baltimore, Maryland. She taught nursing at Madura, South India, did visiting nursing and social work another five years in New Haven, Conn., and last year studied Public Health Nursing at Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.

By 1943, she was superintendent of nurses until her retirement in 1962. Among her duties was training senior girls in community medical services, which included helping at the Infirmary, caring for newborns, keeping medical records, traveling with the doctor on house calls, giving inoculations in the district schools, and rendering first aid. The training and experience the students received often inspired them to continue their nursing studies at accredited schools.

 According to the 1943 Notes from the Pine Mountain Settlement School, the Infirmary, consisting of 10 beds, was “the only medical center for an area covering 400 square miles.” The center provided medical care for the School staff and students, as well as some 250 families in the community.

The 1943 Notes, an issue dedicated to the School’s medical work and staff, paid tribute to the doctors, nurses, and student aides, including Miss Rood:

…. The continuity of the work has been maintained by the faithfulness of Miss Grace Rood…. Each year has endeared her more to our people. We can but echo a neighbor’s tribute “I say Miss Rood’s the queen of all.”

Upon retiring, she returned to Oakham to help her sister Emily and brother Chester care for their mother. She remained active in Oakham organizations, particularly those of the Oakham Congregational Church where she taught Sunday School, worked in the church’s outreach and mission programs, and acted as deaconess into her late 80s. By then she was known by the Oakham community as the “Grand Old Lady who lives at the top of the hill.” Her house was located on part of a farm “at the top of Maple Street” owned by her great-grandfather, James C. Fairbank.

In 1962 she wrote to Fern Hayes, former secretary at Pine Mountain, about life after Pine Mountain. The letter is typical of her ongoing correspondence with staff at the School and many in the community. In the letter she says:

I am not looking forward to completely stopping work, and am looking around for some odd part time jobs to do around here for at least till the end of the year. 

GRACE ROOD LETTER – July 30, 1962, to Fern Hayes

Miss Rood was honored by the PMSS Association of Alumni & Friends when she attended the 1983 Homecoming at age 86, with this page in the Homecoming brochure:

Spontaneous Tribute to Grace M. Rood, R.N.

1983 10th Annual Homecoming at PMSS, page 2. [1983_homecoming_0021.jpg]

1983 10th Annual Homecoming at PMSS, page 2. [1983_homecoming_0021.jpg]

Grace M. Rood, R.N., who was the school nurse from 1937-49 (sic), returned to Pine Mountain at the age of 86 for the annual Homecoming with her usual enthusiasm.

Miss Rood’s spirit was evident by the crowds of people from the community who lined up to greet her. This was heartwarming to her, as it showed the results of her efforts to involve the community with the school.

A comment overheard on Saturday was that if one could have seen the long line of people waiting to visit Grace Rood, one would have thought indeed, this was a reception for her! In a way, it was, without neglecting all the other people who have contributed so much to the growth and continuation of the goals and ideals of Pine Mountain School.

Just as important as the many girls she encouraged to go into nursing was the interest, love and guidance she gave to the other students, many of whom she has visited and kept in contact with throughout the years.

It is this impact that can be seen as you go down the list of graduates and realize the numerous lives she has touch.

In summary of this years’ Homecoming we have to say, “Grace Rood, we salute you, and love you just as we know you love everyone of us.”

Charlsie Vaughn Strealy

 In Miss Rood’s 89th year, the Town of Oakham dedicated its Annual Town Report to her and her lifetime achievements.

Grace Margaret Rood died on March 3, 1988, and was buried in Oakham’s Pine Grove Cemetery.



GRACE ROOD LETTER – July 30, 1962, to Fern Hayes




Title Grace Rood

Alt. Title

Grace Margaret Rood ; Grace M. Rood ;




Pine Mountain Settlement School

Alt. Creator

Ann Angel Eberhardt ; Helen Hayes Wykle ;

Subject Keyword

Grace Rood ; Grace M. Rood ; Grace Margaret Rood ; Pine Mountain Settlement School ; nurses ; visiting nurses ; public health nursing ; superintendents ; infirmaries ; Mt. Vernon, NY ; Port Chester, NY ; Oberlin College ; Johns Hopkins School for Nurses ; Baltimore, MD ; Student Volunteer Union ; missionaries ; South Africa ; Oakham, MA ; Oakham Congregational Church ; India ; Women’s and Children’s Hospital ; Visiting Nurses Association of New Haven ; The Pine Cone ; Notes from the Pine Mountain Settlement School ; Grace Sarah Fairbank Mellen Rood ; Henry Martyn Rood ; James C. Fairbank ; Annual Town Reports ; 1983 Homecoming brochure ; Pine Mountain, KY ; Mt. Vernon, NY ; Port Chester, NY ; Oberlin, OH ; Baltimore, MD ; Oakham, MA ; New Haven, CT ; Madura, South India ; Western Reserve University ; Cleveland, OH ;

Subject LCSH

Rood, Grace Margaret, — 1897 – 1988.
Pine Mountain Settlement School (Pine Mountain, Ky.) — History.
Women’s health services — Kentucky.
Rural schools — Kentucky — History.
Harlan County (KY) — History.
Rural schools — Appalachian Region, Southern.
Rural health services — Appalachian Region — History.
Schools — Appalachian Region.




Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY




Collection ; text ; image ;


Original and copies of documents and correspondence in file folders in filing cabinet ; photograph album(s) ;


Series 9: Staff/Personnel




Is related to Pine Mountain Settlement School Collections, Series 9: Staff/Personnel ; Grace Rood Photograph Album – Gallery I Grace Rood Photograph Album – Gallery II

Coverage Temporal

1897 – 1988

Coverage Spatial

Pine Mountain, KY ; Mt. Vernon, NY ; Port Chester, NY ; Oberlin, OH ; Baltimore, MD ; Oakham, MA ; New Haven, CT ; Madura, South India ; Cleveland, OH.


Any display, publication, or public use must credit the Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY. Copyright retained by the creators of certain items in the collection, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.




Core documents, correspondence, writings, and administrative papers created by or addressed to Grace Margaret Rood ; clippings, photographs, publications by or about Grace Margaret Rood ;




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

Processed by

Helen Hayes Wykle ; Ann Angel Eberhardt ;

Last updated

2013-11-01 aae ; 2014-05-01 hhw ; 2018-03-17 hhw;



“Annual Town Report” of the Town of Oakham, Massachusetts. Contains dedicatory page for Grace Margaret Rood. [No date.] Print.

“Pine Cone 1938.” Series 19: PMSS Publications. Pine Mountain Settlement School Institutional Papers. Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY. https://pinecone_1938_02_005.jpg (accessed 2016-02-08). Internet resource.

Notes from the Pine Mountain Settlement School.”  XVI.II (October 1943): 4. Series 19: PMSS Publications. Pine Mountain Settlement School Institutional Papers. Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY. Internet resource.

Miss Rood is mentioned in the following:

Kentucky Birth Control League. Family Planning in Kentucky Collection, 1938-1987. Mixed material, 2000M02, Library Special Collections and Archives, Kentucky Historical Society. 1938. Archival material.

Roberts, Leonard W., Up Cutshin and Down Greasy: Folkways of a Kentucky Mountain Family. Lexington, KY: The University of Kentucky Press, 1959. Print.

“Grace Margaret Rood.” Find A Grave Memorial. Internet resource.

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