Pine Mountain Settlement School
Series 09: Biography – Staff/Personnel
John A. Spelman III Correspondence Set II
Art Instructor, Artist-in-Residence 1937 – 1941
JOHN A. SPELMAN III Correspondence Set II
TAGS: John A. Spelman III, correspondence, artists, Pine Mountain Settlement School, biography, education, art instruction, arts education,
01. “On Big Laurel” Christmas Card. n.d. [1940’s?] Christmas card to Arthur Dodd and to PMSS staff.
The correspondence of John A. Spelman III, is spread over 3 SETS (I, II, III). The greatest volume of correspondence is that held by the Pine Mountain School in their staff record for John A. Spelman III.
The material in Set I is that associated with his application for a position at Pine Mountain and the supporting recommendations and correspondence related to his placement as an Artist in Residence and later as house counselor and staff worker. The record follows his hire and relates to his work at Pine Mountain. It particularly reflects a struggle to balance his personal art with his instruction of art in the classroom. Further, the later house-parent demands and the many art-related tasks assigned to him pulled his sensitivities and his artistic talents in many directions. His letters to supervisors and friends capture the tensions of these many demands on Spelman. Frustration is a common theme in much of his internal correspondence and is seen particularly in the exchanges with Glyn Morris, Director of the School while Spelman was employed there.
The second body of correspondence covered by Set II is very personal and is often found in association with other staff members at Pine Mountain in their archival record or in private correspondence. These letters span many years and include some years following Spelman’s departure from Pine Mountain. The correspondence is of a personal nature and sheds light on John Spelman’s reflections on art, his lingering fondness for eastern Kentucky, the staff at Pine Mountain Settlement, and his intermittent turmoil in charting a course for his life as an artist and a teacher while at the School and following his departure.
Spelman kept in touch with his colleagues at Pine Mountain following his departure. Fred Burkhard and Esther Burkhard and William Hayes and Fern Hayes correspondence is the largest body of material in Set II of this type. Because many of the letters in the last two sets (Set II and Set III) are of a very personal nature they require access by password. If you require access to Sets II and III, please direct all inquiries to the Pine Mountain Settlement School Office and see requirements for a USE AGREEMENT, below.
Set III includes personal correspondence related to Spelman and is aggregated from his Pine Mountain Settlement School record as well as his personal correspondence. Set III contains information on Spelman’s personal life, his reflections of work while at the School, his activities as an artist and general reflections on his years at Pine Mountain Settlement School. Set III is comprised largely of later donations from the Fred and Esther Burkhard and William Hayes and Fern Hall Hayes families. and exchanges between Spelman and Director Glyn Morris.
Set III correspondence follows Spelman’s professional work and his later career through a series of intimate letters. The letters include his personal reflections of his struggles with teaching at Pine Mountain and the balancing of that demanding job against the challenge of maintaining his focused art interests and career development as an artist. The demands placed on him to produce promotional and school-related literature, to be an effective teacher, counselor, and participant in the many shared responsibilities of the School, stretched his talents and his patience, and is covered in both Set II and III. Set III, however, carries deeper personal reflections and seeks advice from friends regarding how to address personal decisions and life decisions related to his determination to maintain his life as an artist.
Many of the documents in Set II and Set III are quite personal and for that reason, they are made available only to serious scholars and are not available openly on the website. Access may be granted by contacting Pine Mountain Settlement School and by submitting a request that outlines the need and the proposed use of the material.
Please direct your inquiries to the Pine Mountain Settlement School Office if you require full access to the John A. Spelman III correspondence for the purposes of a publication or public presentation.
Any public use of Pine Mountain Settlement School materials requires a USE AGREEMENT (non-commercial) or a USE AGREEMENT (commercial) to be signed and returned to the Office at Pine Mountain Settlement School either via email or by regular mail. Specific use must be described in the agreement and if used for multiple public purposes, the agreement must detail those uses or may require separate AGREEMENTS and be signed BEFORE THE USE.
USE AGREEMENT (non-commercial)
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Bledsoe, KY 40810
(606) 558-3571 Monday – Friday: 8:30AM – 4:30PM
The correspondence of John A. Spelman III, is spread over 3 SETS (I,II,III) . The greatest volume of correspondence is that held by the Pine Mountain School in their staff records. It is this material that is covered in Set I. It includes material associated with his application for a position at Pine Mountain, his placement as an Artist in Residence and his struggles balancing his personal art with his instruction of art in the classroom, and the demands on his talents by the School.
The second body of correspondence covered by Set II is personal and is found in association with other staff members at Pine Mountain. For the Fred Burkhard and Esther Burkhard and William Hayes and Fern Hayes correspondence see John A. Spelman III Correspondence Set III. Most of the letters in Set II and Set III are of a personal nature and shed light on John Spelman’s reflections on art, his fondness for eastern Kentucky, and his turmoil in charting a course for his life as an artist and a teacher. Many of the letters in the first two sets (Set I and Set II) are of a very personal nature and require acccess by paswsword. For access to the letters Direct all inquiries to the Pine Mountain Settlement School Office if you require full access to the John A. Spelman III correspondence.
Set III includes correspondence related to Spelman’s professional life as an artist and his years following Pine Mountain Settlement School.
CONTENTS: JOHN A. SPELMAN Correspondence SET II
1. n.d. “On Big Laurel” Christmas Card. n.d. [1940’s?] Christmas card to Arthur Dodd and PMSS staff. spel_corrsp_001 (3 pages)
16. 16. 1936, December 28. Letter from John A. Spelman to Glyn Morris requesting employment at Pine Mountain Settlement School. Describes his qualifications and eagerness for the position at PMSS. He lists Randolph and Bannerman from the Asheville Farm School, as references.
14. 14. 1936 [1937?], January 1. Letter from Glyn Morris [?] at PMSS to John A. Spelman regarding Spelman’s request for employment at PMSS. Requests a full application and references.17. 1937 [sic 1936] , December 1 [?], Letter from Glyn Morris to Dr. H.S. Randolph requesting information regarding the suitability of John A. Spelman for employment at PMSS. Morris notes that Spelman appears to be “the kind of person we need to work constructively along progressive lines.”
15. 15. 1936, January 6. Letter from Glyn Morris to Dr. H.S. Randolph, Superintendant, Asheville Farm School, Swannanoa, NC. Morris thanks Randolph for John A. Spelman III reference and tells Randolph that PMSS will offer Spelman a chance as a volunteer worker for the semester and if performance is good he will be offered a position next school year. Morris thanks Randolph for original Christmas card designed by Spelman. (1 page and card, attached)
11. 11. 1937, January 4. Application for employment at PMSS. (1 page)
17. 17. 1937 [sic 1936] , December 1 [?], Letter from Glyn Morris to Dr. H.S. Randolph requesting information regarding the suitability of John A. Spelman for employment at PMSS. Morris notes that Spelman appears to be “the kind of person we need to work constructively along progressive lines.” (1 page)
2. 1937, January 5. Letter to Glyn Morris from H.S Randolph, Asheville Farm School. Reference. spel_corrsp_004 (1 page)
3. 1937, January 5. Letter to Glyn Morris from H.S. Randolph. Asheville Farm School. Reference. , p.1. spel_corrsp_005 (1 page)
10. 10. 1937. January 4. Photograph sent with the application for a position at PMSS. Includes note: “My application pictures are mislaid. Kindly accept this informal one taken on the Asheville Farm School campus last March. ” (1 photo)
12. 12. 1937, January 12. Mr. George R. Hemingway, Oak Park, IL, personal reference for John A. Spelman III for employment at PMSS. (1 page)
13. 13. 1937, January 12. Mr. A.M. Bannerman, Oak Park, IL, personal reference for John A. Spelman III for employment at PMSS. (2 pages)
[Arthur M. Bannerman was the President of Asheville Farm School and later Warren Wilson College for many years.]
1938, June 12. 131 Woodline Ave., Oak Park, Illinois. Letter from John A. Spelman to Arthur Dodd at Pine Mountain Settlement. Reports on the graduation ceremony for his younger sister Barbara. He reports that he served as an “Auditor” for the 894 high school graduates, He notes that “…If you have ever doubted my intelligence, we have some in the family,” as his sister ranked number 6 in scholarship at the school and received scholarships to attend Beloit College the following year. [Barbara eventually came to Pine Mountain and worked as a Secretary.] Spelman writes to Dodd as the Acting Director and current Business Manager. Spelman tells Dodd that his parents are leaving their Oak Park House and want to come South and be near him, perhaps by October or November of 1938. They are considering Harlan County if John can find land to buy. “I would like them as near to Pine Mountain as possible,” says John. He asks Dodd if they can rent Old Log on the School campus from October to June 1939, “… until we could make definite arrangements about living in those parts?” He further asks if Old Log is not an option, could they ship some household belonging to PMSS for storage until they can locate housing.
1938, June 14. Letter from Arthur Dodd to John A. Spelman III. Dodd gently tells Spelman that he cannot give a definite answer to housing at Old Log but that it looks impossible due to staff needs. He further relates that it will not be possible for storage on campus as there is no space available. He leaves a door open saying that the living arrangements for the next year are not yet settled but room must be left for guests at the School, as well. He ends with the following: ” On the whole, I think that your idea of having them move to Harlan county so that they would be in the country and near you would be a splendid plan and I hope that it can be worked out to the comfort and satisfaction of your parents. Good wishes to you and you may look for a personal letter later when I get your Minnesota address.”
1938, June 18. Telegram from Arthur Dodd to John A. Spelman III. “Send exhibit immediately, cuts and watercolor, Mattie Richards Tyler, Hotel Elms, Excelsior Springs, Missouri.”
4. 1938, July 3. Letter from John A. Spelman to Glyn Morris, July 3, 1938, regards preparation for “At Home in the Hills” and two woodcuts for publicity in September publication. p. 1. spel_corrsp_007 (2pages) “… I have started designing blocks for my book. So far I have done two woodcuts, and h
5. 1939, February 27. Letter from John A. Spelman to Glyn Morris. Regards the text in “At Home in the Hills,” and Morris’ objection to language representing the area. Spelman details the complications of publishing if revisions are needed. (2 pages)
6. 1939, June 24. Letter from John A. Spelman to Glyn Morris. Regards Spelman’s activities in the summer and inquiries about work associated with the Summer calendar at PMSS, Notes he has read “Rachel Field’s “All This and Heaven, Too!” (1 page)
7. 1939, July 25. Letter from John A. Spelman to Glyn Morris. Responds to Morris’ letter of July 19th and tells him he will return to campus on August 1. Notes he has been working on points to be covered in the instruction of art methods for elementary teachers and has consulted Progressive Education, May 1939. He notes that blocks for the Fall calendar were sent to the Print Shop . Chopping wood for winter. Preparing for an exhibit, tea and talk at PMSS. (2 pages)
8. 1940, January 14. Letter from John A. Spelman to Glyn Morris. Describes feeling overloaded by work demands and describes the load. Asks for direction on setting priorities so he can “breathe and dream.” (2 pages)
9. 1940, n.d. 10:20 pm. Letter from John A. Spelman to Glyn Morris. He describes an incident in the classroom and how it was handled. Details on his efforts at being a house-parent. Receives advice from other staff regarding workplace behavior. (2 pages)
GALLERY II – PMSS STAFF CORRESPONDENCE Set 2
JOHN A. SPELMAN III – Biography
JOHN A. SPELMAN III Correspondence Set I
JOHN A. SPELMAN III Correspondence Set III