Pine Mountain Settlement School
Series 09: Biography – Staff/Personnel

Dr. EVELYN HOLT, PMSS Physician, BIg Laurel, June 30 – July 28, 1928

TAGS: Dr. Evelyn Holt; Pine Mountain Settlement School; doctors; women physicians; Evelyn K. Wells; Dr. Alfreda Withington; nurses; Big Laurel Medical Settlement; Welles­ley College; Cornell Medical School; Overlook Hospital; cardiovascular specialists; American Board of Internal Medicine; The American Heart Journal; Kent Place School for Girls; World War II

When Evelyn K. Wells, a secretary at Pine Mountain Settlement School, received a letter from her friend, Dr. Evelyn Holt, in which the doctor volunteered her services for a month in the summer of 1928, it must have been music to Miss Wells’ ears. Dr. Alfreda Withington, the School’s current physician, was planning to take a long summer vacation and a replacement would be needed. Miss Wells heartily welcomed Dr. Holt.

Because Dr. Withington’s vacation would be a month longer than Dr. Holt’s stay, Miss Wells arranged that the School nurse, Miss [Marian] Purbrick, would look after things when there was no doctor present. In response to Dr. Holt’s questions about the summer work, Miss Wells wrote:

Summers vary a good deal in the work a doctor has to do. Two summers ago, the nurse on duty had practically nothing to do — no confinement cases, no serious illness. Last summer both doctor and nurse were extremely busy, with a bad epidemic of “the bloody flux.” You will have [a weekly visit to a nearby lumber camp] and one confinement case at least…..

Dr. Withington says perhaps you’d better bring “a few knives” if you are especially attached to them, but otherwise, you will find the instruments here that you need. Drugs and supplies can be ordered from here, at short notice, and she will leave you with something to start out with. … Yes, it’s hot in the daytime. You’ll want linen or khaki riding things, with cotton crepe or gingham to wear when you’re spending a day at home. Rain things for riding are important, of course, and your favorite old sweater!

We will, by the way, pay your living expenses while you are here….every member of the Medical Settlement family pools $25.00 a month in the family purse, from which the housekeeper provides for the family.

When Dr. Holt arrived at the railroad station on June 30, she was met by Harmon Turner, “the equerry in waiting for Big Laurel,” as described by Wells. He provided Dr. Holt with the horse “Maud” and guided her over the mountain to the School, where her summer work as a Pine Mountain physician began. Her duties were made a little easier when the lumber camp closed down for the month of July, but she was kept busy enough with tending to the ailments and needs of the residents in the surrounding community.

Dr. Holt must have truly appreciated her experiences at the Big Laurel Medical Extension. Soon after return to her home in New York City, she thanked Katherine Pettit in a letter:

I enjoyed every minute of the month and am very grateful to you for letting me see the beauty of the country, the work of the school and the lives of the people. Although I was there for a short time only, I feel that I left behind many good friends….

Miss Pettit responded,

I just want you to know how grateful we are to you for coming to us this summer, and I wish you could hear the down Greasy people talk about ‘Doc, the young’un,’ for indeed you did leave behind many friends…

Subsequent correspondence from Dr. Holt included donations from herself and her family. She asked that Miss Pettit send literature about the School to her nurse friend, Miss Isabella Walton, who was interested in PMSS and “is the sort of person who will interest others.” Pettit sent a long letter to Miss Walton, describing the School in detail.

Dr. Evelyn Holt – Education, Experience and Family

After graduating from Welles­ley (Massachusetts) College, Dr. Evelyn Holt received her M.D. degree from the Cornell Medical School, New York, NY, in 1924. She served ten years as an internist and then chief of staff of Over­look Hospital in Summit, New Jersey. Dr. Holt was certified as a specialist in cardiovascular diseases by the American Board of Internal Medicine.

For many years, she was associate editor of The American Heart Journal. She was a trustee of the Kent Place School for Girls, a private girls’ college-preparatory day school in Summit, New Jersey. An article in the Summit (NJ) Herald, dated March 28, 1946, mentions that Dr. Evelyn Holt worked in refugee camps for children during World War II.

Dr. Holt had one adopted daughter, Jane Holt (Mrs. Burt DeFrees) who died in 2006, and two sisters, Mrs. Cyril Farny of Morris Plains, New Jersey, and Constance Holt (Mrs. Richard Day) of Pittsburgh., Pennsylvania.

Dr. Evelyn Holt died on December 30, 1963, at the age of 65.



Dr. Evelyn Holt

Alt. Title

Evelyn Holt




Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY

Alt. Creator

Ann Angel Eberhardt ; Helen Hayes Wykle ;

Subject Keyword

Dr. Evelyn Holt ; Pine Mountain Settlement School ; Evelyn K. Wells ; Dr. Alfreda Withington ; women physicians ; nurses ; Miss Purbrick ; Big Laurel Medical Settlement ; Harmon Turner ; lumber camps ; Welles­ley College ; Cornell Medical School ; Overlook Hospital ; cardiovascular specialists ; American Board of Internal Medicine ; The American Heart Journal ; Kent Place School for Girls ; World War II ;

Subject LCSH

Holt, Evelyn, — c. 1898 – 1963.
Pine Mountain Settlement School (Pine Mountain, Ky.) — History.
Harlan County (Ky.) — History.
Education — Kentucky — Harlan County.
Rural schools — Kentucky — History.
Schools — Appalachian Region, Southern.
Medical care — Appalachian Region.




Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY




Collections ; text ; image ;


Original and copies of documents and correspondence in file folders in filing cabinet


Series 09: Biography – Staff/Personnel




Is related to: Pine Mountain Settlement School Collections, Series 09: Biography – Staff/Personnel.

Coverage Temporal

c. 1989 – 1963

Coverage Spatial

Pine Mountain, KY ; Harlan County, KY ; Wellesley, MA ; New York City, NY ; Summit, NJ ; Morris Plains, NJ ; Pittsburgh, PA ; 


Any display, publication, or public use must credit the Pine Mountain Settlement School. Copyright retained by the creators of certain items in the collection, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.




Core documents, correspondence, writings, and administrative papers of Dr. Evelyn Holt ; clippings, photographs, books by or about Dr. Evelyn Holt ;




“[Identification of Item],” [Collection Name] [Series Number, if applicable]. Pine Mountain Settlement School Institutional Papers. Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY.

Processed By

Helen Hayes Wykle ; Ann Angel Eberhardt ;

Last Updated

2018-04-26 aae



“Canned Goods May Be Brought To Summit Herald.” Summit (NJ) Herald, March 28, 1946. http://www.digifind-it.com/summit/DATA/newspapers/ herald/1946/1946-03-28.pdf (accessed 04-26-2018). Internet resource.

“EVELYN HOLT CORRESPONDENCE.” Series 09: Biography – Staff/Personnel. Pine Mountain Settlement School Institutional Papers. Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY. Internet resource.

“Dr. Evelyn Holt, Headed Hospital Staff in Summit.” New York Times Obituaries, January 1, 1964. https://www.nytimes.com/1964/01/01/dr-evelyn-holt-headed-hospital-staff-in-summit.html?ref=oembed (accessed 03-13-2018). Internet resource.

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