Pine Mountain Settlement School
Series 05: ADMINISTRATION – BOARD OF TRUSTEES
Series 09: STAFF/PERSONNEL
Series 22: FRIENDS & VISITORS
Secretary, Publicity 1932-1937
For many years Alice Cobb was an important member of the Pine Mountain Settlement School staff. She came to work at the School in the late 1930s and continued to come as a visitor, sometimes fundraiser, and consultant to the campus until her death in 1995. Pine Mountain, no doubt, made important contributions to the interests and talents of Alice Cobb, as well. The influences of Pine Mountain can be seen and felt throughout her life’s work.
Member, Board of Trustees 1983-?
Fund-raiser, Visitor, Consultant 1936-1995
She was an accomplished writer and a prolific writer. Not always published, her observations are extensive, amusing, intense and engaging reading. Her narrative reports and analysis of work at Pine Mountain was probably her most valuable contribution, though, for some readers the reports are also problematic. She filtered through her own perspective and often this perspective was not in line with current opinion or could be read as overly critical. But, critique she did, and today her keen observations are refreshing and candid and possibly some of the most honest observations we have of life at Pine Mountain Settlement School and related surrounding communities in the late 1930s and 1940s. She was well-known in the Pine Mountain community and her blunt style was a remarkably good fit with the direct and honest observations of many valley families. Sometimes she was much like one of the community members she once described as “having a tongue tied in the middle and wagging at both ends”, but it was not her tongue that wagged, but her pen that could be just as loquacious. Insecure, opinionated, but indomitable in spirit, her observations were driven by an ever-questioning mind that was more sharply analytical than most women of her time would have ventured. She worked with folklorist Richard Chase and for a time with Myles Horton at Highlander Folk School. During the decades of her life she was a model of independence and a palpable force for good.
Several directors relied on her keen eye and ear and her ability to do comparative social analysis in a variety of settings. She provided not only the Pine Mountain administration but many others her perceptive opinions and sharp critiques of the local rural community, but also her acerbic view of the narrow perspective of many urban dwellers and communities that were the source for much of the Schools fundraising efforts. And, of opinions regarding rural and urban, she had many.
Alice Cobb was a woman of many talents and many interests. Her association with children’s authors, particularly May Justus, and her friendship with Sophia Blanche Lyon Fahs, Unitarian theologian and graduate of Union Theological School, were of particular influence on her interests and later life. She was deeply steeped in the theology of Reinhold Niebuhr. She was a life-long friend of Mary Rogers, wife of former Director, Burton Rogers, with whom she found many common interests. She had a continuing focus on the education of children and in the power of the spiritual to lend moral strength to literature in the education process. This deep native spirituality runs throughout most of her writing.
Click on image for full view and enlargement.
After leaving Pine Mountain’s employment, Alice Cobb became a staff member at Scarritt College in Nashville, Tennessee, where she taught sociology for most of her remaining career. She also worked for a brief time with Myles Horton at the Highlander Center in Monteagle, Tennessee, and her contributions to various workshops at the Center are recorded in the archive at Highlander Center. Her later work at the Center is very interesting, and when placed within the context of her first impressions of Myles Horton in her 1944 trip to the Highlander Center. Her observations of Horton and Highlander provide a unique perspective on Horton and his institution.
Alice came from a strong family especially her mother, Alice Culler Cobb [Mrs. J.B. Cobb] , who was a missionary for the American Missionary movement of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Her mother, was, for a number of years, Associate Secretary in the Woman’s Foreign Board, and was elected Corresponding Secretary of the Woman’s Missionary Council, Foreign Department. She also served as a missionary in Nanziang and Kading, Korea, in the first part of the 1900s, an appointment that was particularly strenuous for missionaries of the day. The school is described in the annals of the Woman’s Missionary Council:
The newly organized school ran only a few months, however, and was closed on account of the revolution. Concerning the future, Miss Howell [Council leader] says: “There is a very great field for industrial education in Korea, and this institution needs special care. The greatest need, and an immediate one, is a missionary trained along textile lines. Such a one must be found and trained if necessary.”
In Georgia, Alice Cobb’s mother founded the Alice Cobb Bible School, and a building designed with Korean influences was named in her honor by the South Georgia Conference. It is located in the same compound with the Lucy Cuninggim building in the South Georgia Conference Alice Cobb Bible School enclave. And, yes, it offered weaving as part of the program. Alice Cobb, her daughter, kept many of her mother’s interests, particularly that of Bible literacy, education of the young, and interest in the Southern Appalachians, its crafts and particularly, weaving. And, it is evident that she also inherited her mother’s strong will toward service.
Her mother had an early interest in Appalachia and the following account finds her in Asheville, North Carolina, for the annual meeting of the American Missionary Foreign Board:
The officers and executive committees of the two woman’s boards met at Asheville before the adjournment of the General Conference. Miss Belle H. Bennett, whose heart and life had for years been in the work of foreign missions and who had from the beginning been the great leader of the home mission forces, was unanimously and without question elected as president of this new united woman’s work. Mrs. J. B. Cobb, who had been for a number of years Associate Secretary in the Woman’s Foreign Board, was elected Corresponding Secretary of the Woman’s Missionary Council, Foreign Department; …
Alice Cobb, daughter of this strong missionary, was among like-minded women at Pine Mountain. Many had come from missionary backgrounds of various denominations, or from homes dominated by strong and forward-thinking women who were early participants in the settlement movement of the urban Northeast and Midwest.
Alice Cobb’s Report to Trustee Dorothy Elsmith of Her Visit to Several Mountain Institutions in 1944, captures not only surrounding settlement institutions and other social service agencies but also reflects on Pine Mountain’s attempts to bring its work at the School into focus. It discusses the current operating environment at the School, but also reveals for Board of Trustees member, Dorothy Elsmith, the working environment at Pine Mountain after the departure of Glyn Morris, Pine Mountain’s director who left in 1942 to serve as a chaplain in WWII. Cobb’s trip to the various institutions serves as a window on the administration and practices of various settlement schools, folk schools, and mission schools in a three-state area in 1944. Her journal written during the war years, is an account that captures how those institutions were coping with the war and their challenges of running institutions similar to Pine Mountain during a period of privation and difficult management.Cobb’s journal account is derived from her direct interaction with administration and staff at the various schools she visited and is guided always by her fresh and subjective perspective. She describes her report as a private one that would serve as the base for a more formal report to the Board. While unrefined, her candid and perceptive work has left us a valuable first-hand account of schools and educational objectives of the day in the Southern Appalachians during a particularly important period of history. And, while sometimes excessively personal, the reports also read as a journey of discovery for Cobb as well as a history of those events she saw as life-shaping.
The institutions visited included schools that were seen to be similar in mission to Pine Mountain Settlement School. They were: John C. Campbell Folk School ; Cherokee Indian School in the Qualla Boundary, Indian Territory in western North Carolina ; Highlander Folk School, at New Market, Tennessee ; Pleasant Hill Academy at Pleasant Hill, Tennessee ; Warren Wilson Farm School at Swannanoa, NC ; and the Pi Beta Phi School at Gatlinburg, Tennessee. She also made later visits to Black Mountain College and again to the Farm School at Warren Wilson. She visited with Pine Mountain connections in various states, including visits with Luigi Zande and his new family in Asheville, and with Miss Ruth Gaines, former worker at PMSS while she was briefly at Brasstown, North Carolina.
Most all the individuals in these reports are now deceased. However, some few may still be living. We would appreciate being notified of any concerns raised by the sharing of the intimate portraits Alice often drew from her close observations of the schools and personnel mentioned in her journals and her writing.
[Other selected documents, correspondence, writing, and administrative papers of Alice Cobb, while secretary to Glyn Morris at Pine Mountain Settlement School, continue to be added. They are equally descriptive and shed considerable light on the relationship of Pine Mountain to its communities of interest.] See especially the ALICE COBB ADDENDA, a body of recently (2017) donated material.
Recently published and of considerable interest to those concerned with the wave of immigration sweeping across the world, is Cobb’s book first published in 1953 and recently re-published:
WAR’S UNCONQUERED CHILDREN SPEAK (1953)
A book by Pine Mountain staff member, Alice Cobb, is as timely today as it was in 1953, following WWII. Recently re-published by Cobb’s long-time friend and publisher, Mary Catharine Nelson, War’s Unconquered Children Speak, chronicles a four-month journey made by Cobb in the Middle East and Europe where she met and interviewed children of war. In this new edition of the original 1953 book by Beacon Press, now out of print and rare, Nelson has added a preface by a displaced Syrian teenager. Hiba’s [a pseudonym] account of her ordeal in the Syrian city of Aleppo, including the loss of both parents and a sister, only underscores the terrible toll war takes on children and their families as recorded earlier by Cobb. Sophia Fahs, who wrote the introduction to the first 1953 edition asks us all to consider the plight of children in war. This book is for anyone “… willing to listen when the children of war themselves speak.”
The book is available on demand from Ideas Into Books at Westview Press or Amazon. <https://www.amazon.com/dp/1628800992/ref=olp_product_details?_encoding=UTF8&me=>
ALICE COBB Correspondence
AND MORE ……-
ALICE COBB – Sect Religion and Social Change in an Isolated Rural Community of Southern Appalachia: [with] Case Story : Fruit of the Land, 1965. [Thesis/dissertation] See below for additional titles by COBB
|SERIES 09 – PINE MOUNTAIN SETTLEMENT SCHOOL|
d. May 18, 1995
|Creator||Alice Cobb at Pine Mountain Settlement School|
|Alt. Creator||Ann Angel Eberhardt ; Helen Hayes Wykle|
|Subject Keyword||Alice Cobb ; Burton Rogers ; Pine Mountain Settlement School ; education ; Appalachian music ; Appalachian dance ; Progressives ; Pleasant Hill Academy, Tennessee ; John C. Campbell Folk School, Brasstown, NC ; Highlander Folk School ; Warren Wilson College ; Cherokee Indians ; Pi Phi Sorority ; Gatlinburg, NC ; crafts ; Scarritt College, TN ; children’s literature ;|
|Subject LCSH||Cobb, Alice, — d. 18 May 1995.
Pine Mountain Settlement School — History.
Rural schools — Appalachian Region, Southern.
Rural schools — Kentucky — History.
Schools — Appalachian Region.
Pleasant Hill Academy (Pleasant Hill, TN).
Cherokee Indian School (Cherokee, NC).
Pi Phi School (Gatlinburg, TN).
Highlander Folk School (New Market, TN).
Warren Wilson College (Swannanoa, NC).
|2007-06-26 ; 2014-01-18 ; 2015-03-01
1934 – 1995
|Publisher||Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY|
|Type||Collection ; text ; image ; audio cassette ;|
|Format||Travelogue ; journal ; correspondence ; diary|
|Source||Series 05: Administration – Board of Trustees ; Series: 09 Staff/Personnel ; Series 22: Friends & Visitors ;|
|Relation||Settlement Schools of the Southern Appalachians ; Highlander Center: 1961 NEW ALLIANCE WORKSHOP 49a Feb. 24 -49b ; 1960 BROADCAST MATERIAL (THE HIGHLANDER STORY) 36 Jan. 8 Broadcast over California radio station; Alice Cobb introduces Myles Horton; discussion of Highlander’s background; Septima Clark introduced; Esau Jenkins, Bernice Robinson, Guy Carawan, and Alice Cobb all speak; Horton tells of attacks on the school; Septima Clark tells of raid on Highlander in 1959 (30). [Request from Highlander Center] http://www.state.tn.us/tsla/history/manuscripts/findingaids/1248.pdf|
Pine Mountain Settlement School, Harlan County, KY ; Cherokee, NC ; Pleasant Hill, TN ; Warren Wilson College, Swannanoa, NC ;
|Rights||Any display, publication, or public use must credit Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, Kentucky. Copyright retained by the creators of certain items in the collection, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law. Any public use or publication of material from the Pine Mountain archive requires the permission of Pine Mountain Settlement School.|
|Donor||Alice Cobb ; Various ; See ALICE COBB ADDENDA|
|Description||Core documents, correspondence, writing, and administrative papers of Alice Cobb, secretary to Glyn Morris at Pine Mountain Settlement School. Includes notes from a journal covering a trip made by Alice Cobb in 1944, visiting other mountain schools and settlements including John C. Campbell, Cherokee Indian School, Highlander Folk School, Pleasant Hill Academy, Warren Wilson, Pi Beta Phi at Gatlinburg and other locations. Includes visits with Zandes at Asheville, Miss Gaines at Brasstown, etc.|
|Acquisition||n/d ; 1930s and early 1940s|
|Citation||“[Identification of Item],” [Collection Name] [Series Number, if applicable]. Pine Mountain Settlement School Institutional Papers. Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY.|
|Helen Hayes Wykle ; Ann Angel Eberhardt ;
2007-07-12 hw; 2009-06-08 hw ; 2014-01-18 hw ; 2014-02-16 aae ; 2015-02-28 hhw ; 2017-01-06 hhw ; 2021-01-14 hhw;
Cobb, Alice. War’s Unconquered Children Speak. Beacon Press, 1953. Print.
Cobb, Alice. Refugees from War: A Study Based on War’s Unconquered Children Speak. Boston: Beacon Press, 1953. Print.
Cobb, Alice. The Swimming Pool. New York: Friendship Press, 1957. Print.
Cobb, Alice. Raising Cane on Huckleberry. New York: Friendship Press, 1959. Print.
Cobb, Alice. Conversations on Christian Responsibility. Nashville, Tenn: Graded Press, 1962. Print.
Cobb, Alice, and William Hutchinson. Come to Shanta Bhawan! New York: Friendship Press, 1963. Print.
Cobb, Alice, and Thomas F. Sutton. Debby and Don Find New Friends. Boston: United Church Press, 1964. Print.
Cobb, Alice. Who Is My Neighbor?: A Course for the Third and Fourth Grades. Boston: United Church Press, 1964. Print.
Cobb, Alice. Sect Religion and Social Change in an Isolated Rural Community of Southern Appalachia: [with] Case Story : Fruit of the Land, 1965. [Thesis/dissertation] Print.
|Fahs, Sophia L, Alice Cobb, and Gobin Stair. Old Tales for a New Day: Early Answers to Life’s Eternal Questions. Buffalo, N.Y: Prometheus Books, 1980. Print.
Cobb, Alice, and Sophia L. Fahs. Exploring Basic Issues with Young People: A Manual for Parents and Teachers for Use with Old Tales for a New Day : Early Answers to Life’s Eternal Questions. Buffalo, N.Y: Prometheus Books, 1980. Print.
Cobb, Alice. “Yes, Lord, I’ll Do It”: Scarritt’s Century of Service. Nashville: Scarritt College, 1987. Print.
Cobb, Alice L. A Tapestry of Service: 100 Years Along the Way in Church and Community Ministry. Place of publication not identified: National Church and Community Workers’ Organization, 1989. Print.
Cobb, Alice. Pushing Life: Edgehill’s First Quarter Century. Nashville, TN: Published by Edgehill United Methodist Church on the occasion of its twenty-fifth anniversary, 1991. Print.
Cobb, Alice. With Looking Upward: A novel. Swannanoa, NC: Stone Ivy Press, c. 
Cobb, Alice, Sophia Fahs, Hiba. War’s Unconquered Children Speak. Westview Press, 2016. [Re-print of 1953 edition.]
|Bibliography||ARTICLES AND EPHEMERA BY ALICE COBB
Cobb, Alice. “One Man’s Cravin,” article in Presbyterian May 10, 1945. Cobb, Alice. “Raising Cane on Huckleberry,” Friendship, 1959, Cobb, Alice. “School in the Mountains”: C.A.L., Oct. 1947.Cobb, Alice. “Ten Years at Pine Mountain,” B.S.O. URL, 1942
Cobb, Alice. “A Store of Song Ballets,” Mountain Life & Work, 1946.Cobb, Alice. Extracts from Older Letters (about 1927 — written down for use in talks for publicity) Pine Mountain Settlement School Archives (p,m,f, C)
Cobb, Alice. Letters and Documents written 1933 – 1937 and Letter and Articles Written after 1938. In the Pine Mountain Settlement School Collections, [p,m,f, C]
Cobb. Alice. Community Organization in Harlan Co., KY, 1937-42. Pine Mountain Settlement School Archives (p,m,f, C)
Cobb, Alice. “Christmas at Pine Mountain,” Pine Mountain Settlement School Archives, n.d. (p,m,f, C)
Cobb, Alice. “Extension Work, Educational. Visit to Vacation School at Little Laurel, 1937.” Pine Mountain Settlement School Archives (p,m,f, C)
Cobb, Alice. “Folk Songs: Collected with Richard Chase.” Pine Mountain Settlement School Archives (p,m,f, C)
Cobb, Alice. Folk Tales.” Pine Mountain Settlement School Archives (p,m,f, C)
Cobb, Alice. “Publicity.” (Speaking Tours 1941, 1942, 1945, 1946.) Pine Mountain Settlement School Archives (p,m,f, C)
Cobb, Alice. “Settlement Institutions: Journal of trip covering several schools and settlements.” Pine Mountain Settlement School Archives (p,m,f, C)
Alice Cobb’s work may also be found in tapes at the Highlander Center, New Market, TN, and in the Center archive held by the State of Tennessee, Department of State, Tennessee State Library and Archives, 403 Seventh Avenue North Nashville, Tennessee, 37243-0312. Accession Number: 1248 Location: II-A-2-4v (III-D-2-4v) 36, 40g, 49b.
[Alice Culler Cobb, the mother of Alice Cobb was an American Missionary in the Methodist Episcopal Church] “Mrs. J. B. Cobb, who had been for a number of years Associate Secretary in the Woman’s Foreign Board, was elected Corresponding Secretary of the Woman s Missionary Council, Foreign Department .”She served in Nanziang and Kading , Korea, in the first part of the 1900’s.” See Women and Missions in the Methodist Episcopal Church … http://www.archive.org/stream/womenandmissions00haskuoft/ womenandmissions00haskuoft_djvu.txt
1960 BROADCAST MATERIAL (THE HIGHLANDER STORY) 36 Jan. 8 Broadcast over California radio station; Alice Cobb introduces Myles Horton; discussion of Highlander’s background; Septima Clark introduced; Esau Jenkins, Bernice Robinson, Guy Carawan, and Alice Cobb all speak; Horton tells of attacks on the school; Septima Clark tells of raid on Highlander in 1959 (30). [Request from Highlander Center] http://www.state.tn.us/tsla/history/manuscripts/findingaids/1248.pdf
See also: Highlander Center: 1961 NEW ALLIANCE WORKSHOP 49a Feb. 24 -49b -Wyatt T. Walker discusses background and purpose of integration drive in Petersburg, Virginia, with emphasis upon keeping interest in movement going, cooperation of various groups in Petersburg, and development of student organization; discussion of Savannah boycott, use of mass media for movement, establishing a broad base in the community and student movement in Savannah; segregation of public facilities in Huntsville; obtaining state charters for organizations; methods of desegregating public libraries; primary function of various Negro groups; comments on citizenship schools; problem of apathy among Negroes in Huntsville; problem of maintaining secrecy in planned marches, etc.; summation of session; background of demonstrations in Nashville; comments on history of Negro movement from 19th Century;
Alice Cobb tells why sit-ins were necessary and comments on the role of Nashville Community Relations Conference in the movement; Rev. C. T. Vivian speaks on role of churches in Nashville movement, comments on James Lawson, and background leading up to sit-ins; John Lewis speaks on role of students from Nashville colleges, arrest of students; Lester Carr speaks on psychological impact of the sit-ins; question and answer session; comments on demonstrations in Savannah, demonstrations in Atlanta, and bombing of Z. Alexander Looby’s home in Nashville; Horton comments on taking advantage of white violence; violence in Nashville and impact upon merchants; role of Nashville Negro minister in the movement (230).
Highlander Center: “1960 THE WHITE SOUTHERNER IN THE CURRENT STRUGGLE 40g – May 26” Alice Cobb discusses the church and race relations; Miss Louise Young speaks on Councils on Human Relations in Tennessee; Dr. Phillip C. Sotong discusses communications between whites and Negroes in Chattanooga; discussion of conformity and the social structure in Chattanooga; Mrs. Anna Kelly comments on working with volunteer organizations; Miss Kay Jones comments on Government agencies and segregation; question and answer session (60).
Highlander Center: [No date given] LITERACY SCHOOL MEETING (SEA ISLANDS) 70 Mrs. Allene Brewer teaching students to fill out registration forms; Mrs. Brewer introduces Septima Clark, Alice Cobb, Dorcus Ruthenberg, and Myles Horton (30).
Fahs, Sophia Blanche Lyon, 1876-. Papers: A Finding Aid. Box 17 contains a folder of correspondence between SLF and her colleague Alice Cobb, which was donated by Ms. Cobb in 1992. …oasis.lib.harvard.edu/oasis/deliver/~div00072
Transcript of interview, “May Justus Remembers” by Alice Cobb. Published in part in Foxfire (Summer 1980). Part of Appalachian Oral History Program, Mars Hill College. (97 pp. includes detailed index), 1980.
White, Mary C. The Portal of Wonderland: The Life Story of Alice Culler Cobb. [Mother of Alice Cobb] New York: Garland, 1987. Print.
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