Pine Mountain Settlement School
Series 09:  Biography
Friends and Visitors to PMSS


59 Single unmodified photographs

Katherine [“Kay”] True
Dean of Girls. Berea Academy [Berea College]

*About Katharine True as described by Marian Kingman to Mary Rogers in a letter accompanying the donation of the album.

Dear Mary,…

I must explain this album. Katherine True was Dean of Girls in the old Academy of Berea College (in which I taught my first 4 years here.) She retired to Pleasant Hill, Tenn. some years ago, and died this last year. Margaret Dizney who also is retired and living in Pleasant Hill, evidently had some responsibility in sorting Kay’s belongings, and so sent me this album. I think it belongs at Pine Mt., and if there is anything of value in it for the mountain room, you will know. These pictures may be duplicated in those already there — but, do whatever you wish with it.


Katherine True was the sister of the noted botanist Rodney Howard True (1866-1940)*.  She  was born and raised in southern Wisconsin in Greenfield.  She was the daughter of the New Englanders, John M. and Mary Annie (Beede) True. The John M. True family were skilled farmers, but also placed considerable emphasis on the education of their children.  All the siblings, Rodney, the oldest, his brother Gordon, Katherine and her sister Eunice all graduated from the University of Wisconsin.  All chose careers that kept them in academe. Both Katherine and Eunice taught at Berea College. Rodney Howard True, born in 1866, taught at the University of Pennsylvania’s Department of Botany and from 1900-01 he was a lecturer at Harvard. In 1901he took a position as the lead physiologist and historian for the Bureau of Plant Industry in the United States Department of Agriculture.  His particular historical interests centered on the history of agriculture and the agricultural practices of Thomas Jefferson and André Michaux and the botany of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.  He was a prolific writer and is published extensively in scientific journals. He died in 1940.  His work with the Philadelphia Society for Promoting Agriculture, the Pennsylvania Horticulture Society, and the Agricultural History Society was not far from the interests of his siblings though Katherine’s interests centered more on human resources. The strong interest in landscape and farm life seen in the True album pulls from the same well of influence as her brother.

The note that accompanied the donation of the Katherine True Photograph Album underscores the close connection of Berea women with Pine Mountain Settlement School in the early years of the institution.  The journey that Katherine True made with Enid Rutledge to the School and to the surrounding region in 1923, captures a landscape and an emerging economy that were beginning to shape the lives of the people in the remote areas of eastern Kentucky.  The images in Katherine True’s Album are well composed and capture the area through the eye of a “passer-through”, rather than the eye of one who lived within the communities of interest.

Marian Kingman, knew Katherine True and for many years sat on the Pine Mountain Board of Trustees.  Kingman was also a Berean and for many years taught in the Home Economics Department of the college. She also has an interesting album of early Pine Mountain Settlement School photographs.  See Marian Kingman Photograph Album

The color shift of the emulsion on the prints is considerable and is the result of age and storage.  No attempt was made to alter the original color of the photographs as seen in the full page scans of the album. The uniformity of the color shift throughout the album suggests that storage has been less than optimum through the years, but also gives the album a rich nostalgic aura. The single images seen below have been modified and the color shifts have largely been removed.

When the images were modified they revealed detail that was lost in the original degraded photographs.  For comparison, these modified photographs have been added to the Katherine True album pages.

(single unmodified photographs)



XIX KATHERINE TRUE PHOTO ALBUM I (full unmodified pages)

XIX KATHERINE TRUE PHOTO ALBUM II (single images, modified)

XIX KATHERINE TRUE PHOTO ALBUM III (single images unmodified)