Pine Mountain Settlement School
Series 01: HISTORIES 
Pine Mountain Settlement School Histories
1913 – 2023


“The History of the Pine Mountain Settlement School: The Clothing of an Idea with Substance.” Page 1. [hist_pmss_idea_001.jpg]

TAGS: Pine Mountain Settlement School histories, chronologies, autobiographies, biographies, oral histories, photographs, Creech Family history, 1913-present, rural settlement schools, education



The HISTORIES of Pine Mountain Settlement School include written, spoken, and visual material from a broad range of sources. Gathered by the School’s Director’s to promote the School, by former teachers to give students pride in their heritage, by nurses, by doctors,and by students, administrators, Board members, and visitors, — HISTORIES are not of one mind. The one defining ” History of Pine Mountain Settlement School” does not exist. There are many histories of the School that together begin to give shape to an institutional history as it relates to the reader of that “history.” 


The HISTORIES PMSS Guide provides links to the gathered material that can loosely be determined to be an attempt at a “history.” There are histories of the institution as well as histories specific to individuals. For example, the history of the Creech Family is in itself a history of the instituton. Photograph collections when ranged chronologically can form a “histroy.” Formats include a variety of ephemera. that is, singular publications by the School that attempt to give an overview up until the date of publication. Bulletins, flyers, institutional appeals, personal reflections, abound in the archive of the institution. Annual mailings such as Notes, or Dear Friend Letters of correspondence, if aggregated form a history. Documents that reflect changes in governance and in administration can form a history. Photography, if dated and documented can be a visual history of a period of time. Histories abound in a collection of materials as large as that found at Pine Mountain Settlement School.

We have gathered some of the most recognized “HISTORIES” here, but we suggest that the user of this archival collection gather their own understanding of the institutional history through exploration of the site.

(Some listings may not be linked as yet because the related pages are still under construction.)


The histories of Pine Mountain Settlement School are very mixed. Some histories seek to be comprehensive with regard to the early history of the institution, such as Progressives in the Kentucky Mountains: the formative years of the Pine Mountain Settlement School 1913-1930, a doctoral thesis by James Greene III.

Other histories are more nuanced and cover more limited time-frames, perspectives, or specific periods of the School when the authors were residents at the School as staff or students or associated with the School as trustees or guests.

Histories can also be a part of the administrative cycle of the school and are often very descriptive inventories of the annual cycles of operation. The extensive Evelyn K. Wells Excerpts from 1918 Letters Home ….is a running account of life at the school pulled from staff working in the early years of the institution. The WELLS RECORD OF PINE MOUNTAIN SETTLEMENT SCHOOL, PINE MOUNTAIN, HARLAN CO., KY. 1913-1928 is an Administrative record. It details of a long annual cycle during the Boarding School years.

Histories written by former students capture the memories of some of those students who were profoundly changed by their experiences at the School. Histories can be found in Scrapbooks such as the Tid-Bits Scrapbook, and in personal memoirs like that of Carrie Day, a student, and Dorothy Nace, a staff member, and in Grace Rood’s oral history interview — all awaiting transcription. These are special histories in time in the longer institutional history. Many of these histories mentioned are fully autobiographical and cover specific years at Pine Mountain, but they also cover years that the individual was in residence at other locations. Other histories associated with the satellite settlements of Little Laurel, Big Laurel, and Line Fork address very specific time periods and events during the early years of the institution as it sought to expand its reach.

Together, the large and small histories of Pine Mountain Settlement School contribute to what we now know and what we choose to imagine about Pine Mountain Settlement School over its long 100-plus-year history. And, in their volume, these histories allow us a rich body of information with which to form our own interpretation of the history of Pine Mountain Settlement School from a variety of viewpoints and standpoints.

It is hoped that scholars, former students, staff, and trustees will continue to contribute to the written, oral, and photographic history of this amazing institution. Not only have such history chronicles given the writers a rewarding journey, but they have left considerable room for other histories that will become important additions to the Institution’s on-going archive collection.

For links to historical narratives on this site, go to:
Histories PMSS Guide