Pine Mountain Settlement School
Series 04: Histories


TAGS: PMSS Histories Guide, PMSS histories by former workers, students or visitors, personal narratives, oral histories

The PMSS HISTORIES GUIDE links to histories of Pine Mountain Settlement School written or spoken by the School’s former teachers, nurses, doctors, students, administrators, and visitors. This Guide also provides links to the Creech Family correspondence, documents and photographs.

For more about PMSS histories, go to HISTORIES.

[NOTE: Some listings are still under construction.]



MARY ROGERS  THE PINE MOUNTAIN STORY 1913-1980. This survey of Pine Mountain Settlement School history covers the founding of the School until 1980. Written and illustrated by Mary Rogers, “The Pine Mountain Story 1913-1980” remains a valuable resource in the PMSS Collection. GUIDE TO THE PINE MOUNTAIN STORY 1913-1980

GUIDE TO HISTORY of PMSS Summaries 1937 – 2000

COPY OF LETTER, DATED MAY 1, 1920 [Anon.] – 1920 [2 pages].

 ASTRID ANDERSON – A PMSS bookkeeper in the 1930s, was one of two workers who wrote the narrative, “II. Funeral,” located on the page titled “A Mountain Funeralizing.“ The other worker is unknown, but possibly Fern Hall (Hayes), a former student and secretary for the School.

ALICE COBB – A PMSS staff member describes life at Pine Mountain and in a variety of other settlement schools and folk schools in her 1944 report for Pine Mountain Settlement School trustee, Dorothy Elsmith. Included in her report are graphic descriptions of John C. Campbell Folk School, Highlander Folk School, Pi Beta Phi in Gatlinburg, TN, and other locations. Also included is an interview with Luigi Zande in Asheville, NC. She was a prolific writer and her cumulative work is a close observation of Pine Mountain School as well as the surrounding community. The ALICE COBB GUIDE TO WRITINGS AND LETTER COPIES will direct the reader to a dense collection of writing over the course of some twenty years associated with the School.

WILLIAM CREECH A SHORT SKETCH OF MY LIFE – Creech, a founder and donor of land for the School describes his purchase of land the settlement in the Pine Mountain valley. His narrative of the early settlement process and his marriage to Sally Dixon and the building of their first home captures the life of early pioneers. He describes the actions he took to encourage Pettit to come and found the Pine Mountain Settlement School.

See also Series 04a: Creech Family History, GUIDE TO PMSS HISTORIES – CREECH FAMILY, “GUIDE TO CREECH FAMILY LETTERS,” Guide to Letters from and to Creech Family and CREECH FAMILY – Selected documents, letters and photographs.

RACHEL H. DAVIS  (Housemother at Big Log & Office worker, 1924-1926) Letter to Paul Hayes, 27 February 1991, with stories and a photograph of her time at Pine Mountain Settlement School.

BILL DAWN – Bill’s article “Welcome Back … ” in the 1979 Homecoming Report of the Association of Alumni & Friends describes his experiences as a student at Pine Mountain Settlement School in the 1920s.

PINE MOUNTAIN SETTLEMENT SCHOOL, INC.: Pine Mountain, Harlan County, Kentucky. January 1918. The History of the Pine Mountain Settlement School: The Clothing of an Idea with Substance 1918. Written by Ethel de Long Zande, Katherine Pettit and William Creech, Sr., this small promotional booklet is one of the first “histories” of the School.

ETHEL DE LONG ZANDE [?] – The History of the Pine Mountain Settlement School: Clothing of an Idea with Substance. c. 1920.

JAMES S. GREENE III “Progressives in the Kentucky Mountains: The Formative Years … Settlement School, 1913-1930” (Ph.D. diss., Ohio State University, ED Policy and Leadership, 1982). [412 pages]. See also an excerpt from “Pine Mountain Beginnings,” a talk given by Dr. Greene, in the Centennial Issue of NOTES – 2013, image 008.

NANCY JUDE – A narrative of her life as a student at Pine Mountain Settlement School and Big Laurel Medical Settlement. Born and raised in the area, Nancy Jude’s autobiographical account of her years at Pine Mountain captures the School from both the student and the worker perspective. This autobiography of Nancy Jude has been given many “disguises” to keep the privacy of the family and associates. She gives herself the name of “Roaz” (Rosa Dale) in this biographical account of her life and her time at Pine Mountain Settlement School.

ORADEL MAHLON  A teacher and staff at the School who, describes her life at Pine Mountain Settlement School in the mid-to-late 1930’s and afterward. The narrative includes a broad sweep of years and memories. Mahlon taught English at the school in the late 1930s and her memories are gathered in this autobiography that sums up her personal reflections on the School and beyond.

GLYN MORRIS  This is a biography entry only. It covers the ten years that Morris led the School and shaped an educational program that was Progressive and nationally recognized. Personal autobiography and institutional history is fully incorporated in his book, Less Traveled Roads (1983). It is not available in full text on this website. 

GLYN MORRIS 1940 General Statement of History and Philosophy for PMSS for Staff. A thoughtful statement on the educational vision of Morris and his perspective on the past and future direction of the School. 

MARGARET MOTTER – “Recollections of Pine Mountain Settlement School. Reflections of a staff member who was a central figure in the textile focus of the School in the 1940s. (See also Guide to Margaret Motter Collection.)

MARGARET MOTTER – In “Reflections (c. 1946),” a staff member records her reflections on Pine Mountain Settlement School when she returns to the School some fourteen years after her first work there. (See also Guide to Margaret Motter Collection.)

DOROTHY NACE  [Biography entry only.] “End of the Road, A Summing Up,” 2002. 1941-2000. [Personal and institutional history.] A chatty and personal response to a lengthy relationship to the Creech family and to Pine Mountain Settlement School where she served as an instructor and as a secretary.

GRACE M. ROOD – This is both autobiography and history. Rood describes her early education, work in India, and her years as a nurse in the Pine Mountain community.

Bertha Shepherd with Dorothy Whiteside and Labrida Handy – “Little Journeys,” written in 1938, details an early journey by automobile through the South and includes an account of the trios stopover at Pine Mountain Settlement School. All three were visitors to the School and were never employed by the institution.

EVELYN K. WELLS  A RECORD OF PINE MOUNTAIN SETTLEMENT SCHOOL, PINE MOUNTAIN, HARLAN CO., KY. 1913-1928 — [See: GUIDE TO WELLS RECORD OF PINE MOUNTAIN SETTLEMENT SCHOOL 1913-1928] Contains collected notes and anecdotal information regarding life at the School during each year from 1913 until 1928. The material gleaned by Wells from letters and reports in the PMSS archive is comprehensive in scope for the range of years and is a rich resource for the foundational years of the institution. Wells served as a secretary at Pine Mountain, a fund-raiser, and on the Board of Trustees. Her reflections are thorough and substantive with facts. She left PMSS and served on the Wellsley College faculty until her retirement.

ALFREDA WITHINGTON – [Biography entry only.] The autobiography, Mine Eyes Have Seen (1941), is an account of Dr. Withington’s medical career. The last chapter in her book details her years at Pine Mountain Settlement School as the rural doctor who serviced the region surrounding Pine Mountain Settlement School by horse-back. Stationed at the Medical Settlement at Big Laurel, a satellite of Pine Mountain School, Withington took the position at the age of 67 and continued working for nine years until her forced retirement due to a heart condition.

KCET TELEVISION PROGRAM “Settlement Schools in Kentucky.” Includes historical sketches by PMSS directors and staff.

DOROTHY NACE  Various histories including Pine Mountain Settlement School staff and her own personal journey.

RUTH SMITH CREECH – Various historical reminiscences.

FERN HALL HAYES and WILLIAM HAYES – Various reminiscences of their history at the School from 1933 until the 1990s. Fern served as Secretary and Bill as the Farm Manager.


Anonymous, likely written by Ruth B. Gaines. HISTORY Early Description of PMSS.

CELIA CATHCART “A Funeralizing on Robber’s Creek – See also: “A Mountain Funeralizing.”


[To see a full listing of Oral Histories go to GUIDE TO AUDIO RECORDINGS]. 

Jane Bishop Oral History

John Deaton Oral History

Arthur and Georgia Dodd Oral History

Bill and Fern Hayes Oral History

Burton Rogers Oral History

Mary Rogers Oral History

Grace Rood Oral History

Brit Wilder Oral History