Pine Mountain Settlement School
Series 09: BIOGRAPHY – Staff
Helen Kingsbury, Home Economics Teacher 1942-1947
Helen Kingsbury (1915-1992)

Helen Kingsbury, c. 1940. [kingsbury_h_030.jpg]

TAGS: Helen Kingsbury, Pine Mountain Settlement School, home economics, education, teachers, industrial training, Massachusetts State College, clothing construction, Framingham State Teachers College, Fitchburg Teachers College, Anna A. Kloss, Home Economics Building, used clothing, Burton Rogers, Sterling, MA, Amherst, MA


Home Economics Teacher, 1942-1947

Helen Kingsbury grew up on her father’s dairy farm in Sterling, Massachusetts, and enjoyed her life in a rural setting. At Massachusetts State College in Amherst, she majored in home economics with an interest in clothing construction, earning a B.S. degree in 1938. During the following year, she continued her studies in teaching at Framingham (MA) State Teachers College, followed in 1941 and 1942 by courses at Vocational Summer School at Fitchburg (MA) Teachers College.

Application for PMSS Position

All of this plus her excellent references made her a good candidate for a teaching position at Pine Mountain Settlement School (PMSS). Helen learned about the position through Miss Anna A. Kloss, who was then the Director of the Women’s Division at Fitchburg Teachers College. In turn, Miss Kloss was informed of the position in a letter from her friend at PMSS, Evelyn K. Wells.

Miss Kloss sent a reference letter to PMSS for Helen in July 1942, stating:

Miss Kingsbury has been brought up on a dairy farm in Sterling and is therefore familiar with and fond of rural life. She is a quiet retiring person but is enthusiastic and happy whenever accomplishing results. We find that she is much interested in educational programs such as your school is carrying on and has for some time thought she would like to engage in such work.

In a reference from the Massachusetts State College Placement Office, Helen was described as having an excellent mind, is [a] good thinker, has [an] analytical type of mind and organizes material well….Nice sense of humor, willing and cooperative.”

HELEN KINGSBURY Staff: At Pine Mountain

Consequently, Helen was hired by PMSS as a teacher of home economics and supervisor of the Home Economics Building at $70.00 a month for September 1, 1942, through May 1943. Her contract, signed by Acting Director William D. Webb, also included meals in the Laurel House dining room, [a] room at West Wind, including heat and light, a reasonably limited amount of such laundry as you care to send to the laundry, four garments ironed per week at the laundry, together with a vacation of two weeks with pay at Christmas time…” In April 1943, her contract was renewed for the school year 1943-1944 at $75.00 per month. Her room was relocated to Far House.

In all, Miss Kingsbury was employed at Pine Mountain Settlement School until June 1947, much longer than she had originally imagined when she wrote in her application, ” I think a year or two at Pine Mountain would be a valuable piece of experience — although I am chiefly interested in public school teaching.”

HELEN KINGSBURY: After Pine Mountain

Four years after she left Pine Mountain, she asked then-Director Burton Rogers for a reference, writing in a letter dated April 4, 1951, “At present I am living at home with my mother but I want to get back into teaching as soon as possible.” Burton Rogers wrote the following in admiration of her work ethics:

Miss Kingsbury was a teacher who combined originality and imagination with patient hard work. She was completely devoted to her work and to her students, not sparing herself in this attachment to duty. She was a helpful member of the staff in every way.

In June of 1956, Miss Kingsbury again wrote to Burton Rogers, this time asking to return to a position at PMSS. In Rogers’ letter of regret, he described the School’s position at the time:

I just do not know of any opening or any chance of an opening in the home ec field, since we do not have any salary to employ teachers for special subjects. We have recently developed a recreational-vocational program with two workers engaged in quite a variety of projects, but no single specialty. We have no need for housemothers either, as in the past, so the field is quite limited.

The last three letters in Miss Kingsbury’s PMSS Archives file were between her and Burton Rogers in the year 1961. In October, Helen asked if the School would accept clothing that she had renovated to fit children, which was her hobby at the time. Burton Rogers’ response is an interesting description of the School’s used clothing policy:

PMSS has never had a used clothing project for the community, because of certain abuses and certain misunderstanding in the minds of community people which have often arisen in connection with these activities when they were not properly handled.

On the other had, we do, in a very quiet way, make available to school children in real need certain articles of clothing, without which they could hardly come to school. As you know, we have all the school children of this valley in school here at Pine Mountain, some 225 of them this year, in the first ten grades. There are hardship cases, and we do attempt to meet certain of these needs quite privately and anonymously, either through the teacher concerned, or the principal, or some other person closely involved.

Also, in the cases of gifts of clothing which come in from time to time from other sources, we are able to channel them to a neighboring mission down the creek where Miss Snyder used to be, and where a more active clothing program is carried on. There are also other sources who can use clothing, whom we feel are reliable, in those cases in which we do not have a direct recipient ourselves.

Therefore, if you care to send along any of your reconstructed articles we would be very happy to see that they get into the most needy and worthy homes, and would give very special attention to these products of your own hands, knowing of your keen interest in the young people of our community.

Soon after this exchange, Helen wrote that she had just received a “small legacy” from one of her aunts who had recently died. She enclosed a money order as a donation to the Pine Mountain Settlement School “to use as you see fit.” Like many former PMSS workers, Helen Kingsbury had not forgotten the simple pleasures as well as the rewarding interactions she experienced at Pine Mountain and wished to pay back in whatever way she could.


Helen F. Kingsbury was born on September 29, 1915, in Massachusetts. Her parents were William Goodale Kingsbury, a farmer (born 1881), and Helen Frances (Wheeler) Kingsbury (born c. 1892). Her siblings were Frances Christine Kingsbury (born Feb 15, 1912, died Sept 30, 1912), Dorris (Doris) (1914-1981), and Frank William (1916-1998).

Miss Kingsbury died in May 1992 in Harwich, Massachusetts.

GALLERY: Helen Kingsbury


Helen Kingsbury

Alt. Title

Helen F. Kingsbury




Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY

Alt. Creator

Ann Angel Eberhardt ; Helen Hayes Wykle ;

Subject Keyword

Helen Kingsbury ; Pine Mountain Settlement School ; Massachusetts State College ; clothing construction ; Framingham State Teachers College ; Fitchburg Teachers College ; Anna A. Kloss ; Home Economics Building ; used clothing ; Burton Rogers ; 

Subject LCSH

Kingsbury, Helen F., — 1915 – 1992.
Pine Mountain Settlement School (Pine Mountain, Ky.) — History.
Harlan County (Ky.) — History.
Education — Kentucky — Harlan County.
Rural schools — Kentucky — History.
Schools — Appalachian Region, Southern.




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




Is related to: Pine Mountain Settlement School Collections, Series 09: BIOGRAPHY – Staff.

Coverage Temporal

1881 – 1992

Coverage Spatial

Pine Mountain, KY ; Harlan County, KY ; Sterling, MA ; Amherst, MA ; Framingham, MA ; Fitchburg, MA ;


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 Helen Kingsbury ; clippings, photographs, books by or about Helen Kingsbury ;




“[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

2018-04-08 aae ; 2023-12-30 aae ;



“Helen Kingsbury Correspondence.” Series 09: BIOGRAPHY – Staff. Pine Mountain Settlement School Institutional Papers. Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY. Internet resource.

“Massachusetts Births, 1841-1915,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:FXK2-SJ9 :  accessed 9 April 2018), Helen Kingsbury, 29 Sep 1915, Sterling, Massachusetts; citing reference ID #P497, Massachusetts Archives, Boston; FHL microfilm 2,409,902. Internet resource.

“Massachusetts Death Index, 1970-2003,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VZTW-N78 : accessed 9 April 2018), Helen Kingsbury from “Massachusetts Death Index, 1970-2003,” database, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : 2005); citing Harwich, Massachusetts, death certificate number 034768, Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Health Services, Boston. Internet resource.

“United States Census, 1920,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MF95-T25 : accessed 10 April 2018), Frank W Kingsbury in household of William G Kingsbury, Sterling, Worcester, Massachusetts, United States; citing ED 158, sheet 8A, line 10, family 89, NARA microfilm publication T625 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1992), roll 748; FHL microfilm 1,820,748. Internet resource.

See Also:
HELEN KINGSBURY Correspondence, 1942-1961

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