Pine Mountain Settlement School
Series 00: ABOUT
THE KEEPERS of the Archive
TAGS: Archive Keepers, Helen Hayes Wykle, Ann Angel Eberhardt, websites, administrators, editors, PMSS Collections, volunteers, board members, sororities, community, PMSS staff, alumni, archivists, transcriptions, donations, Berea College, partnerships
KEEPERS of the Archive: Co-Editors and Co-Archivists
Ann Angel Eberhardt and Helen Hayes Wykle began addressing the growing degradation and increasing dispersion of the archival collections at Pine Mountain Settlement School in 2000. In that same year, plans were made to establish a website that would highlight selected collections from the School. That modest plan soon became a journey of near 20 years. Ann and Helen are the administrators and editors of the <https://pinemountainsettlementschool.net> website. It is their vision that led to the efforts to bring disparate PMSS collections together and to initiate a digital web resource for the community. They share the responsibility and privilege of working to direct and manage the collection’s holdings at Pine Mountain Settlement School with the goal to stimulate better utilization of the collections by the School, the Community and the external cocommunity. Any interpretation and opinions expressed in association with materials from the collections are those of the two editors-administrators and may not necessarily represent those of Pine Mountain Settlement School.
The archive initiative undertaken by Ann and Helen soon turned into an all-consuming post-retirement project that now approaches twenty years of engagement. Highly motivated by family ties to Pine Mountain Settlement School, both Ann and Helen enlisted a core of volunteers such as Anna Cumins Smith, one of our most loyal crew, a librarian from near Williamsburg, KY.; members of the Board of Trustees of Pine Mountain Settlement, (Karen Hudson, Colleen Ambrose, Mim Pride, Jamie Greene, III, and others) and several groups of sisters from the national sorority Alpha Sigma Tau located at colleges and universities in Ohio, West Virginia, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and many more interested persons. These volunteers, working eight hours and more each day for free room and board, made the “heavy lifting” part of the job doable and enjoyable and were essential to the early collections work.
Further, community, friends, Board members, and other Pine Mountain School associates, children of former workers at the School, and others came for long stays and multiple stays over the years to join the KEEPERS on their work on the collections. For example: Elanor Burkhard Brawner daughter of former workers Fred and Esther Burkhard worked on our garden “collections,” scrapbooks and media collections and brought a large body PMSS ephemera and family documents; Cathy and Carolyn Castle, two Berea graduates, suffered through the frigid temperatures of the library during one busy winter week working to organize the Community School (2 files) files — one of our key collections; Ann’s two daughters, Adrian and Allison came from Arizona and worked with their mother typing hours of data into the system; Helen’s elderly mother Fern Hall Hayes came and offered invaluable historical information as the former secretary to four PMSS directors; Emily Lancaster (Moose), a former intern with Helen in the UNCA Special Collections and Amy V. McIntosh from EKU spent a summer addressing the organization and inventory of the large botanical collection of the self-taught botanist, Ellwood J. Carr donated to PMSS. Cassie Robinson, Assistant director at PMSS gave of her personal time to address the SIA (Settlement Institutions of Appalachia) files. Director Nancy Adams and her husband, activist and former mine safety inspector, Jack Spadaro, spent hours organizing and transcribing letters from early founders. During Nancy Adams’ tenure as Executive Director, she and her assistant director, Cassie Robinson, gave of their limited time to address many distressed sections of the archive, particularly the films and videos as well as the SIA (Settlement Institutions of Appalachia) files. The more recent and ongoing work of Sarah Broomfield, Berea College, on the weaving collections at PMSS has brought new insight to these extensive weaving and textile collections and places our holdings among the more outstanding records of early weaving craft in the USA.
Of special note is the work completed by former Princeton conservator, scholar Scott Husby and Classics scholar Tracey Cullen who came to Pine Mountain to review the John Spelman III holdings. Scott with his meticulous conservator skills contributed countless hours measuring and then creating special handmade enclosures (well over 130) for the John Spelman III linoleum and wood blocks used in many of the publications at the School and also in the historian Thomas D. Clark’s book The Kentucky (1942), part of the Rivers of America series. The original blocks used in Spelman’s own publication At Home in the Hills, an architectural exploration of vernacular architecture in Harlan County, represent one of the more special holdings of the institution.
The work of Dr. Robert Spenser Weise also needs special mention. He initiated a database containing brief descriptions of folder content for the Director files of Burton Rogers. His work has just begun and is listed under this guide in TABLE format as well as in narrative format by box and folder. The initial work on this large project is indebted to Robert and the trips he made to Pine Mountain and assisting with the initial organization of the many un accessioned boxes of Rogers files. Working in less than forgiving environments he tackled the physical problems of the large back-log of unaccessioned materials post-1983. Dr. Robert Spenser Weise, a member of the History and Religion department at Eastern Kentucky University, with characteristic thoroughness, helped to establish an order to one of the largest of the Director collections and provided an important window into resources from 1942 – 1993 across a broad spectrum of governance at the School. Rob’s intense work on inventory and folder level analysis of the Burton Roger records continues and is invaluable for moving that large uncataloged body of material into the public sphere. Thanks, Rob!
More recently, PMSS Board members, Karen Hudson, Colleen Ambrose and Mim Pride, jumped right into our ancient “sensitive” and very fragile files giving them order, preservation and sensitive scrutiny. Karen Hudson has given numerous hours to PMSS and now retires from the BOT to give her attention to a book about Pine Mountain’s early directors and the buildings that grew under their leadership. Formerly a faculty member with the University of Kentucky College of Design, Historic Preservation Department, Karen has been especially helpful by bringing her conservation and preservation expertise to bear on various collection issues associated with buildings and storage; Peter and Phyllis Rogers, son of former director Burton Rogers, offered history, exhibits, advice and historical commentary; Sharon Fahrer, Asheville Montford Festival organizer and her husband, Victor Farher, and later Vic’s sister, slogged through letters and slides in two trips up to the School. Sharon brought valuable marketing advice, as well as wonderful enthusiasm for the craft history of the School and cataloging of the physical collections of weaving and annotation of the letters of one of our staff members; Virginia McKinley, former Academic Dean at Warren Wilson and Malaprops Bookstore staff came from Asheville to offer valuable organization skills related to the mapping of the large body of SIA records on microfilm at Berea College and in physical form at Pine Mountain Settlement; students in the Challenge Academy from Harlan helped PMSS staff move boxes of collections to Boy’s House where we established the central location of our holdings.
KEEPERS: PMSS Staff
The invaluable work of the PMSS paid maintenance staff, (Charley, Mark, T.J., Owen, Merle, and others) who whacked metal shelving together and moved walls and old wooden shelving to accommodate new storage, gave us space for desks and file cabinets and other storage that was needed to house the newly joined collections. Floors at Boy’s House were shored up, and file cabinets and heavy desks were shifted to accommodate the growing body of material. A new door was added to the former Library room to provide security. See Special Collections Turns a Corner for more details of the work undertaken at Boy’s House (Library).
Housekeeping and dining, headed by long-time staff member Joyce Scearce, continues to keep us all well-cleaned, well fed and monitored for archive insect invaders.
More recently our partnership with Berea College on two grants initiated by Dr. Jason Cohen has brought us valuable equipment and expertise. His education interest in the archival holdings has expanded interest in the collections and brought the school a series of promising academic and local educational associations. These new partners have greatly expanded our access to current expert consultation and broadened our outreach.
KEEPERS: The value of community
This brief tribute to our volunteers and staff does not begin to measure their value in our efforts. When realized as a community effort, value is further increased. We apologize in advance for any omissions we may have made in this overview of the many keepers who have added value to the institution over the years by their service. It is important to emphasize that the current website and physical collections have had many keepers who struggled to keep up with the organization and development of the collections over the 100+ years of existence. The archive at Pine Mountain Settlement School is truly a community effort of multiple KEEPERS and not just the effort of the two old memory-ridden keepers now working to hold it all together. We continue to welcome those who may want to join this journey of community. Contact the Pine Mountain Settlement School Office and ask for contact information. (606) 558-3571
To see the vitas and bios of the collections Co-Editors — Ann Angel Eberhardt and Helen Hayes Wykle, follow the links below.