VISITORS Guide to Consultants Guests and Friends of PMSS

Pine Mountain Settlement School
Series 09: BIOGRAPHY
Consultants, Guests, and Friends of PMSS

VISITORS GUIDE to Consultants Guests Related Friends of PMSS

Doris Ulmann, Photographer, c. 1910. Source: (Public Domain).

TAGS: visitors guide, consultants, friends, community, guests, visitors related to PMSS, writers, composers, musicians, educators, publishers, botanists, folklorists, film-makers, psychologists, photographers, artists, folksingers


How do you stand it — a city man in such isolation?” was a question often put to Glyn Morris and no doubt to other school directors at Pine Mountain. In his book Less Traveled Roads, written following his retirement, Morris attempted to answer that question. His response seems almost more for himself than for others, yet it sheds light on the important educational lessons in cross-cultural exchange.

Morris mentions reading as a means of staying in touch, but he admits that “…how I stood it,” would require a more “searching analysis than…was possible….” Yet, he then launches into a series of reminiscences of interesting people he met along the course of his life, and particularly at Pine Mountain. He summarizes: “In my case, I am sure that part of my satisfaction came because of the interesting people I met along the way; my residence was isolated, but I was not.”

The governing Board of Pine Mountain during Morris’s tenure was one source of satisfaction, it seems. His mentor, Professor Swift, from Union Theological Seminary, Darwin D. Martin, “a wonderful and wise man,” Dorothy Elsmith of Woods Hole, a dynamic and “tremendously interesting person.” Darwin D. Martin, Vice-President of Larkin Company and one of the most successful men in America, had a profound influence on the institution and on Morris.

Pine Mountain over the years attracted many people who wanted to be off the beaten path or who wanted to see what “off the beaten path” looked like. They came from all parts of the country and the world and from all walks of life. Most all found Pine Mountain fascinating. Pine Mountain and its isolated community found the visitors equally fascinating.

The sampling below provides a human picture of the talent and cleverness that briefly came to the far corner of Kentucky to see and to be seen. The visitors enriched those at the School while they often went away with an equal treasure of knowledge and memories. Pine Mountain rarely disappoints those that make the difficult journey to the north side of the long Pine Mountain. Glyn Morris noted in his memoir that “Pine Mountain was a place where people constantly came to visit out of curiosity, or because they wanted to see the school’s program, …”

Many of these visitors came for short visits but some stayed longer or kept coming back. Folklorist and writer Richard Chase, for example, would come and stay for weeks on end and was ultimately included as a temporary worker at the School. Writers, such as Rebecca Caudill, came and stayed for a while at the School over the course of years. Cecil Sharp‘s brief visit helped to define programming at the School and shifted the scholarship of English Country Dance and folk balladry. And Pine Mountain helped to define the English scholars ideas on the relationship of English Country Dance to similar dance patterns in the Kentucky mountains.

In Harlan County the cross-currents of politics, religion, and culture have always been strong influencers on those who come and go from the area. The written record of those visitors is voluminous. The School, only a short twenty miles from the nearest large town, Harlan, might well have been described as a Shangri-la for some, and an abused land and people that needed saving for other visitor-writers. Of equal insight, the world outside the mountains of Eastern Kentucky was an untapped educational feast for those so long locked in by their geography. Morris and earlier directors, such as Katherine Pettit and Ethel de Long Zande played to this cultural tension of “insider” versus “outsider” in order to enrich coffers of the School as well as the educational programming at the School. This mutual exploitation of interests was used to great success in the boarding school years of the 1920s through the mid-1940s.

Each era of the School had its special set of visitors, consultants, researchers, and friends. All brought gifts and, as founder Uncle William had hoped, offered gifts to be taken away and shared “with those acrost the seas.”

The following list is a work in progress as the Archive is explored and as it reveals new visitor relationships and the myriad of ideas exchanged in the dynamic valley of Pine Mountain.

Sherwood Anderson – (September 13, 1876 – March 8, 1941) was an American novelist and short-story writer, known for subjective and self-revealing works. Self-educated, he rose to become a successful copywriter and business owner in Cleveland and Elyria, Ohio. [Wikipedia] Political activist during 1930s. A friend of Glyn Morris, he came to Harlan and Evarts in May of 1931 with John Dos Passos, Theodore Dreiser, and other writers, members of the National Committee for the Defense of Political Prisoners (NCDPP) that came to eastern Kentucky to take testimony from Harlan miners during the Mine Wars of the ’30s. Morris was called into Harlan by the sheriff to explain his invitation to Anderson to come to PMSS and any connection he might have with the Communist Party. No connections were found.

William Aspenwall Bradley – Author, editor, translator, literary agent in Paris. Columbia University B.A. 1899, M.A. 1900. Visited for 2-3 weeks at PMSS while working on poems to be published by Houghton Mifflin as “Old Christmas – 1916-17. Reviewed books for the New York Times. Papers held by Columbia University.

Brockway, Howard A. – (November 22, 1870 – February 20, 1951) was an American composer and musician who came to PMSS with Loraine Wyman to collect ballads and folklore.

 John C. Campbell – (14 September 1867 – 1919) was an American educator and reformer noted for his survey of social conditions in the southern Appalachian region of the United States during the early 1900s. He served a term as president of Piedmont College from 1904-1907. [Wikipedia] Briefly Director of Russell Sage Foundation. Husband of Olive Dame Campbell.

Olive Dame Campbell(1882-1954) Travelled with her husband, John C. Campbell in Eastern Kentucky in 1908-1909. Established John C. Campbell Folk School, Brasstown, NC. (1925). Published The Southern Highlander and His Homeland under John C. Campbell’s name. Many PMSS staff left PMSS to work under her direction at Brasstown, NC. See recently published Appalachian Travels: The Diary of Olive Dame Campbell edited by Elizabeth McCutchen Williams (2012).

Ellwood J. “Bud” Carr – Botanist, donor of his botanical collection to PMSS, which is held in the E. J. Carr Plant Center, located in the Girls Industrial Building. 

Rebecca Caudill Ayers – (February 2, 1899 – October 2, 1985) was an American author of children’s literature with more than twenty books published. Her Tree of Freedom (Viking, 1949) was a Newbery Honor Book in 1950. A Pocketful of Cricket (Holt, 1964), illustrated by Evaline Ness, was a Caldecott Honor Book. Close friend of Mary Rogers, PMSS staff and member of the Board of Trustees of PMSS. One of ten children in the family of Susan and George Caudill of Harlan County, Kentucky. She was born in Poor Fork, now Cumberland, Kentucky.

Harry Caudill – (May 3, 1922 – November 29, 1990) was an American author, historian, lawyer, legislator, and environmentalist from Letcher County, in the coalfields of southeastern Kentucky. Author of Night Comes to the Cumberlands and other books on the region. Lived nearby in Whitesburg, KY. and was a frequent visitor at PMSS.

Richard Chase – (February 15, 1904 – February 1988), American folklorist, was an authority on English-American folklore. He was born near Huntsville, Alabama, and graduated from Antioch College in 1929. Author of “Jack Tales,” teller of tall tales, and recreation specialist and sometime employee of PMSS.  Chase was, for a short time, employed by the School during the Community School years.

Charles D. Cole – Poet and writer. Wrote the poem, “The Deserted House,” illustrated by Joe T. Vowell, a resident of Harlan and presented to Pine Mountain. Author of My Land – My People (1967) with illustrations by Mary Rogers.

Miss Lyta Davis – Teacher at The School of the Ozarks at Hollister, Mo. where she was a teacher of mathematics, acting on the request of President Robert M. Goode of the small college whom she married two years later, in 1923. As the representative of the Board of the School of the Ozarks, she made arrangements to visit the Pine Mountain School for four days beginning on August 27, 1920. Miss Davis was encouraged to visit by Mary Rockwell Hook. [PMSS Archive. Director’s Correspondence, Prospective Visitors, 1919, 1920, SIA Series II 4-3]

John Dos Passos – (January 14, 1896 – September 28, 1970) Noted American novelist and artist. Member of the National Committee for the Defense of Political Prisoners (NCDPP). [Visited Glyn Morris at PMSS in 1932 ?]. His visit created a political firestorm in the county.

Richard B. Drake – (1925-2019) – Biography of a notable history professor who promoted Appalachian studies and a center at Berea College, 1956-1992.

Theodore Dreiser – (August 27, 1871 – December 28, 1945) was an American novelist and journalist of the naturalist school. “Dreiser led the National Committee for the Defense of Political Prisoners (NCDPP) to the coalfields of southeastern Kentucky, where they took testimony from coal miners in Pineville and Harlan on the pattern of violence against the miners and their unions by the coal operators known as the Harlan County War. [Wikipedia] See: Dreiser, Theodore; National Committee for the Defense of Political Prisoners (1932). Harlan Miners Speak : report on terrorism in the Kentucky coal fields. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Co.

Park W. Fisher – (1880 – 1959) In the early years of WWI, Park W. Fisher, a Congregational minister and craftsman, initiated a series of lectures in support of the war effort. Proposing to take his message directly to the people in the Central and Southern Appalachian mountains, he sought fundraising help from Ethel de Long Zande and others.

Ray Garner (1913-1989) – Groundbreaking international producer, director, cinematographer, and lecturer. He and his wife, Virginia Garner, a photographer, collaborated on filming life and educational programs at PMSS, sponsored by the Harmon Foundation (1941-1942). See: Community Group Assembly, May 1942. See: From Every Mountainside: the Story of the Pine Mountain Settlement School (1941), color, silent. Harmon Foundation, an experimental school for mountain children in Kentucky.

Virginia Garner – (1915-2007) Noted filmmaker, writer and wife of film maker Ray Garner. Harmon Foundation sponsored the making of a film at PMSS in 1941-1942 on which the two collaborated. See: Community Group Assembly, May 1942. See also: The diaries of her experiences filming with Ray Garner in Africa as part of the Africa Motion Picture Project (also sponsored by Harmon Foundation) which has now been compiled into a book, Images Out of Africa. See: From Every Mountainside: the Story of the Pine Mountain Settlement School (1941), color, silent. Harmon Foundation, an experimental school for mountain children in Kentucky.

O. Latham HatcherEducational consultant. See: Rural Youth Guidance Institute 1930s-40s. Friend of Glyn Morris.

Henry E. Jackson – Special Agent in Community Organization, Department of the Interior, Bureau of Education, Washington. Writing to Darwin D. Martin, Secretary of Larkin Co., Buffalo, N.Y. who was on the Board of Trustees at Pine Mountain, Jackson planned a trip to Pine Mountain “…sometime between the 12th and the 20th of April, 1920.” He had been inspired by a previous visit to Caney Creek School in Knox County in 1919. In his letter he describes his invited visit to Caney Creek to “… assist them to organize the county for community activities. It was a thrilling experience and one which I would like to describe to you when I have a chance to visit with you personally. I note what you say about the government’s concern over the illicit distilling done in the mountains and I heartily agree with you that if even a portion of the energy thus expended were devoted to the great work of promotion of a community building it would net far more result. “ He goes on to say, “I note what you say also about the necessity of doing fundamental constructive work along economic lines for the people living n the mountains. This is my particular interest and while I was at Caney Creek I was able to suggest methods and plans of [the] procedure by which the people could get a larger economic return for their labor. I was deeply touched by the nature and temper of the people and also deeply pained at the sight of their great need. For a sympathetic man, a visit in these mountains is very trying because he is made so conscious of the need where the government ought to help meet in this big and neglected field.

A February 5, 1920 follow-up letter of Darwin D. Martin to Pine Mountain notes that “Dr. Jackson resigned a $10,000 pastorate in Montclair, N.J. [?] because he wanted to transfer himself to platforms where he could talk unhampered by the denominational organization.” [Director’s Correspondence, Prospective Visitors, 1919, 1920, SIA Series II 4-3]

Maude Karples – Collaborator of Cecil Sharp during the years 1916–1918. for fieldwork on English folk songs that had survived in the more remote regions of southern Appalachia. “Sharp and Karpeles recorded a treasure trove of folk songs, many using the pentatonic scale and many in versions quite different from those Sharp had collected in rural England. Generally, Sharp recorded the tunes, while Karpeles was responsible for the words.” [Wikipedia] See Cecil Sharp and Maude Karples’ Visit to Pine Mountain and description of first contact with the Kentucky Running Set.

Miss Margretta Olive Kinne – A wealthy philanthropist and graduate of Syracuse University who promoted early childhood education. She requested a visit to Pine Mountain in June or July of 1920. She writes that she has a particular interest in both kindergarten education and the medical work that the School has engages. She notes that she is busily engaged in raising funds for the “Million Drive for Smith’ [Smith College] and that she has some ideas to discuss with Pine Mountain. Ethel de Long Zande replies to her that “…we haven’t place for visitors who come simply to board and not to help. So many people ask to come and visit, paying their expenses but not taking part in the school work, that we quite often have to tell them that it is really impossible for us to have such visitors..”

Alan Lomax – (January 31, 1915 – July 19, 2002) “American ethnomusicologist, best known for his numerous field recordings of folk music of the 20th century. He was also a musician himself, as well as a folklorist, archivist, writer, scholar, political activist, oral historian, and film-maker.” [Wikipedia]. Alan Lomax and his wife Elizabeth gathered folk music in eastern Kentucky in 1937, with a stop at Pine Mountain Settlement School.

Percy MacKaye – Writer, poet, and dramatist. Lived at Pine Mountain for a brief time with his wife, Marion. The two gathered folk stories and studied the language of the people of the area. Produced theatrical productions based on their experiences at Pine Mountian.

Marion Morse MacKaye – Wife of Percy MacKaye. Writer, poet and dramatist. Lived at Pine Mountain Settlement with her husband in the early 1920s and with him gathered folklore about the region.

John Jacob Niles  (April 28, 1892 – March 1, 1980) American composer, singer, and collector of traditional ballads. Called the “Dean of American Balladeers”Accompanied Doris Ulmann to PMSS.

Cecil Sharp – (22 November 1859 – 23 June 1924) Founding father of the folk-song revival in England in the early 20th century. Folklorist; discovered the Kentucky Running Set at Pine Mountain in 1917. Traveled with Maude Karples.

James Still – (July 16, 1906 – April 28, 2001) was an “American poet, novelist and folklorist. He lived most of his life in a log house along the Dead Mare Branch of Little Carr Creek, Knott County, Kentucky. He was best known for the novel River of Earth, which depicted the struggles of coal mining in eastern Kentucky.” Librarian at Hindman Settlement School. A frequent visitor at Pine Mountain.

Ruth May Strang – (April 3, 1895 – January 1971) American psychologist whose primary research interests were in child and adolescent psychology. Educator, Columbia University. PMSS Guidance Institute. 1930s-40s; Wrote Contributions in Guidance, 1936.

Doris Ulmann – Photographer. Educated at the Ethical Culture Fieldston School. (See Kendall Bassett Photographs). Traveled to PMSS with John Jacob Niles and noted for her Appalachian photography. Photographed members of the Ritchie family in Viper, Kentucky, who sent their children to school at Pine Mountain. Photographed families and individuals in the Pine Mountain community. Many photographs are held by Berea College, the University of Kentucky and the University of Oregon.

Joe T. Vowell – Artist and resident of Sunshine area of the town of Harlan, KY. Illustrated the Charles D. Cole poem, “The Deserted House.” Also illustrator for 1923 film, Miss Harlan based in a book by Charles Mutzenberg, Kentucky Famous Feuds that explores the history of the region from wilderness to 1923 industrializationRelationship to G.D. Vowell, a ballad singer from Harlan is unknown. G.D. Vowell was recorded by John Lomax. The film contained Decorative Titles By Joseph T. Vowell and Photography By D.W. Engert.

The film, Miss Harlan, based on the book by Charles Mutzenberg, ran three days to standing room only crowds at the New Harlan Theatre in 1923. Shown daily from 1:30 to 11:00. Advance bookings included Lexington, Louisville, surrounding Kentucky counties, and Cincinnati, Ohio. The film deals with the great advancement of Harlan County from its wilderness period to its present progress.

Marion Post Wolcott – Farm Security Administration (FSA) Photographer. Photographed in and around Pine Mountain Settlement School and Harlan County, KY.

Loraine Wyman – An American soprano noted for concert performances of folk songs, many collected herself from traditional singers in fieldwork trips. Came to PMSS with Howard A. Brockway. See Loraine Wyman and Howard Brockway.


Miss Louise Bache – Assistant Editor of the Junior Red Cross News. Fragment of correspondence indicates that she “will probably go to Tennessee and Kentucky some time this spring for the purpose of visiting a little group of mountain schools …”

Dr. Edward H. Egbert – Executive Secretary of the Catherine Breshkovsky Russian Relief Fund, New York City. Formerly, he served as the Chief Surgeon of the American Red Cross Detachment to Russia. He noted in a letter to Katherine Pettit that, 

…the work you are doing is in many respects parallel to the work which we hope to do in Russia, and I am very anxious to avail myself of your kind invitation to visit your school at as early a date as is possible. … I am particularly interested in your very sensible plan of paying the children for their labor so giving them an incentive and developing n them a sense of thrift. I am also very much interested in the extension work which you are doing, for that will be a very important feature of our work abroad. … I may be able to visit your school the latter part of next month …I hope that I may have the pleasure and honor of shaking hands with “Uncle William.

Pettit encourages him to come but notes that Uncle William has recently died.
Letter to Katherine Pettit, September 15, 1919. [Director’s Correspondence, Prospective Visitors, 1919, 1920, SIA Series II 4-3]

Eleanor Roosevelt – Wife of U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt who planned a visit to Pine Mountain but had to cancel due to war-time schedule conflicts. She sent Pine Mountain a photographic portrait of herself and of the President, signed, and framed in wood salvaged from the remodel of the White House.


WENDALL BERRY – Poet, Writer.

GEORGE BROSI – Editor of Appalachian Heritage Magazine.

ROBERT HUTCHINS – Brother of Francis Hutchins, President of Berea College and PMSS Trustee.


GUERNY NORMAN – Kentucky author: The Whole Earth Catalog, Divine Rights Trip.

ANITA PUCKETT – Linguistic Anthropologist, Virginia Tech Dept. of Religion and Culture.

JEAN RITCHIE – Singer, Songwriter. Sister of Ritchie sisters who attended Pine Mountain Settlement Boarding School.


Series 09: COMMUNITY, FRIENDS and VISITORS Related to PMSS – A guide to the Library File, listing guest books (1954-1988) and event statistics (2000-2003). [PRIVATE]


Updated: 2019-11-07 hhw; 2020-08-03 hhw; 2022-11-14 aae; 2023-05-24 aae; 2023-07-11