ARCHIVAL MISSION STATEMENT and Scale and Scope of Collection

Pine Mountain Settlement School
Series 00: Archives
Mission Statement

….continued from the Main Page   

The Appalachian rural settlement movement came later than the national urban Settlement Movement on which it is based. The Appalachian rural movement has historically not attracted the national attention paid to its urban counterparts such as Jane Addams Hull House experiment in Chicago, and others in the Northeast, but is a significant contributor to the history of the Settlement Movement, generally. 

The rural movement deserves more attention. This digital archive opens the door to the rich history of the region and provides an in-depth exploration of the settlement administrative structures and how it played out in rural communities. The rural movement created and shaped the unique Pine Mountain Settlement School, but the School has helped to both preserve and to create many rural communities in Appalachia.  Over 2,200 digital pages of local, regional, national, and, especially biographical materials, are being made accessible to a growing body of scholars, former students, and importantly, the indigenous community of early settlers and those whose lives were touched by, changed by, and, more importantly, valued by this unique school over it 100 year history. 

The Pine Mountain Settlement School collection of digitized material includes in-depth biographies, auto-biographies, family histories, interviews, administrative and governance documents, photographs (1900s – present), book collections, descriptions of arts and crafts, film and video holdings, music, oral histories, and a myriad of other interests and formats. A GUIDE to specific interests is outlined BELOW and in the more complete, ARCHIVE INDEX. 

While the materials in this virtual archive detail the rural settlement movement, it is the lens of the earlier and inclusive national movement that gives the material historical depth.  The unique individuals and the discreet collections within the Pine Mountain Settlement School archive capture the unique essence of the rural settlement movement ethos that still permeates the surrounding culture.  Biographies provide deeply personal and often diverse perspectives that resonate across disparate geographies and sociologies. The materials in this archive can bring new insight to the ongoing debates and conflicts often associated with “Insiders” and “Outsiders” and immigrants and migrants, of growing interest and discord in our contemporary society.

The ARCHIVE is a large and growing digital body of primary documents and a social index of decision-making across administrations, staffing, community relations, cultural differences, regional environmental awareness, and social conflicts, rules, regulations, and civic responsibility.  It is personal love stories, murders, eco-enthusiasm, educational dedication, and more. The primary material graphically captures the social and cultural life of the rural settlement school and its surroundings, including the coal-mining communities and the town of Harlan. “Remote” — a term so often associated with the rural, takes on a greater significance in the mix of people, ideas, and educational values revealed in the Pine Mountain Settlement School collections. It makes no claim to follow standard archival delivery, nor is it bound to those standards, particularly amid a digital and AI revolution. 

Pine Mountain Settlement School in Harlan County, in the far south-eastern part of Kentucky, is unique in the history of the settlement institutions of the Southern Appalachians as it has one of the longest histories.  Rural settlement institutions and communities such as those found in North Carolina, East Tennessee, and West Virginia, are often aggregated into an “Appalachian” rural whole.  That whole is debatable. Large urban communities such as those found in Louisville, Lexington, Knoxville, Cincinnati, Asheville, and the Tri-Cities, are often used to draw sharp distinctions regarding their regional “rural” neighbors. The archival collections from Pine Mountain Settlement School’s beginnings in 1913 to the present day, hold both rural and urban viewpoints.  Of significant attention is the role of migration on the rural and urban perspectives. The extensive collections of Pine Mountain Settlement School provide a broad investigative field for families, scholars, students, genealogists, and other researchers looking to untangle some of our inherited contemporary questions, bias, myths, and mysteries.

Most documents are available in FULL TEXT & IMAGE. The current online archive of over 2,400 indexed pages is well-supplied with approximately 40,000 photographic images and full-text document images, and transcriptions.


For over 100 years Pine Mountain Settlement has been focused on enriching lives and connecting people through Appalachian place-based education for all ages.

Uncle William and Aunt Sal, founders

Uncle William and Aunt Sal in re-enactment of their wedding. [melv_II_album_081_mod.jpg]


The Pine Mountain Settlement School archival mission supports the institutional mission and strategic planning goals. Our institutional mission continues a long 105-year history of multiple educational and social enrichment programs centered on the local community and beyond. Once a boarding school with a progressive educational curriculum, Pine Mountain School’s recent educational programming has moved away from residential education to multi-faceted offerings of short-term environmental, cultural, medical, social, agricultural, and art and craft programs and workshops. But, the archive has not moved away from, nor will it move away from, a commitment to Pine Mountain as place and people.

The programs at Pine Mountain Settlement School are evolving to meet the changing needs of the community and region. Today’s programming continues its focus on environmental education and educational support for students in local schools, as well as long-term partnerships with Appalachian centered programs and short-term workshops for all ages and all geographies.

“Hidden” and largely inaccessible for many years, the materials in the rich local archive are being organized, digitized and offered through this growing website. Current work with the archive is a volunteer effort. The efforts of Helen Wykle and Ann Angel Eberhardt grew out of their direct and early childhood association with the School. They began their digitization efforts in 2000 following their professional retirements and have continued their efforts since that time. The digital offerings are comprised of their selections and the recommendations and inquiries of users of the material. The digital record reflects life in the Pine Mountain valley and in many parts of the Southern Appalachians from 1913 until the present. It highlights settlement school staff, the people in the surrounding community, former staff, students, buildings, journals, letters, farming practice, linguistics, weaving, dancing, singing, drinking, funeralizing, politicking, and much more. It is our mission to reach out to a broad range of interests including those of former students, former workers, new visitors, old visitors, coal miners, environmentalists, farmers, teachers and a broader public. We are eager to encourage new scholarship, new insights, new research directions and new friends for Pine Mountain Settlement School. We are always appreciative of contributions to keep our efforts maintained.

To visit the main page for the School click the link below. To access the Archive go to INDEX TO ARCHIVAL COLLECTIONS.




 An in-depth digital look at the ARCHIVE at Pine Mountain Settlement School. The collections include photographs, documents, biographies, objects, video and other materials that describe the institution from its beginnings in 1913 to the present day. Many documents are available in FULL TEXT.
Work is ongoing.