ARCHIVE Keepers of the Archive

Pine Mountain Settlement School
Series 00: ABOUT

THE KEEPERS of the Archive

Grand Valley University, Michigan, Alpha Sigma Tau volunteers. March 2-4, 2015. At work in Hill House on the PMSS 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 and fragmentation 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 over 20 years. Ann and Helen are the co-administrators and editors of this <https://pinemountainsettlementschool.net> website. It is their vision that led to the efforts to bring disparate PMSS collections together and to initiate a core digital web resource for the community. They share the responsibility and privilege of working to direct and manage the disparate holdings at Pine Mountain Settlement School with the goal to stimulate better utilization of the collections by the School and the external community. While interpretation and opinions are largely confined to the Blog, “Dancing in the Cabbage Patch, other interpretations 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. 

KEEPERS: Volunteers THANK YOU!

The early archive initiative undertaken by Ann and Helen and that soon turned into an all-consuming post-retirement project, has many points of engagement. Highly motivated by family ties to Pine Mountain Settlement School, both Ann and Helen and their extended families knew and know many of the staff and the students that appear in the collections. Further, they enlisted a corps of volunteers who often had ties to the School.

Dedicated volunteers such as Anna Cumins Smith, one of our most loyal volunteers, 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, Deborah Thompson, and others) and the several groups of sorority sisters from the national sorority Alpha Sigma Tau located at colleges and universities in Ohio, West Virginia, Illinois, Pennsylvania, also assisted in processing the large collection of material. They were coordinated by the delightful Judy Lewis, the PMSS Community Coordinator. There have been many more interested persons who have given of their time and expertise, such as Sharon and Vic Fahrer, and Marissa and Ryan Leveskis, all from Asheville, NC. 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 early collections preservation work. 

ANNA CUMINS SMITH

VOLUNTEER

These community, friends, Board members, and other Pine Mountain School associates, children of former workers at the School, and others who came for long stays and multiple stays over the years to join the KEEPERS on their work on the collections, have continued as loyal supporters of the Archive/Collections projects. 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 to add to our collections; 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 Eberhard’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 Wykle in the UNCA Special Collections and Amy V. McIntosh from EKU spent a summer addressing the organization and inventory of the large botanical collection donated by the self-taught botanist, Ellwood J. Carr. 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 former husband, activist and former mine safety inspector, Jack Spadaro, spent hours personally organizing and transcribing letters from early founders, and also scanning and identifying photographs.

ELANOR BURKHARDT BRAWNER

VOLUNTEER.

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. The large holdings at Pine Mountain related to the early work of Berea weaver, Anna Ernberg, who, according to author Phyllis Alvic (Weavers of the Southern Highlands, p. 54), “…set the standard for the Craft Revival of weaving in the Southern Appalachian Mountains …” are important to any research going forward on weaving ventures in the region — particularly the Fireside Industries. The extensive Ernberg material and associated holdings, places the PMSS collections among the more outstanding records of early weaving craft in the USA.

Of special note is the work initiated by former Princeton conservator, scholar Scott Husby and Classics scholar Tracey Cullen who came to Pine Mountain to review the artist 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 other projects. Spelman III was selected by the historian Thomas D. Clark to illustrate his book The Kentucky (1942), a 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 most special holdings of the institution.

In June 2021, Scott Husby and Tracey Cullen completed their publication about the PMSS instructor, John A. Spelman III and his art created at Pine Mountain and in the Grand Marais, MN area. Their book, John A. Spelman III Artist and Printmaker: From Appalachia to Minnesota’s North Shore (2021), is generous in its illustrations and meticulous in its research of the Pine Mountain Settlement School instructor and his art.

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 important work on this large project, indebted to Robert and the trips he made to Pine Mountain to assist with the organization and analysis of the many un-accessioned boxes of Rogers’ files, helped to establish order for one of the archives largest collections. Working in less than forgiving environments he helped to establish guidelines for cataloging the large back-log of un-accessioned materials post-1983. Dr. Weise, a member of the History and Religion department at Eastern Kentucky University, with characteristic thoroughness, continues to help establish and give order to one of the largest of the Director collections and to provided an important window into PMSS resources from 1942 – 1993. The Rogers years and administration covers one of the broadest surveys of the institutional history. Rob’s intense work on inventory and folder level analysis of these records continues and is invaluable for moving that large un-cataloged body of material into the public sphere. Thanks, Rob! 

JUDY LEWIS

JUDY LEWIS COORDINATING SORORITY SISTERS ON CAMPUS AT PINE MOUNTAIN SETTLEMENT

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 “sensitivity” scrutiny.

Karen Hudson has given numerous hours to PMSS and now retired from the BOT gives her attention to a book about Pine Mountain’s early directors and the buildings that grew under their leadership. She has also found a hidden talent in her paintings. Formerly a faculty member with the University of Kentucky College of Design, Historic Preservation Department, Karen has been especially helpful in bringing her conservation and preservation expertise to bear on various collection issues associated with building preservation and storage deficits and assets.

Colleen Ambrose, one of our strongest supporters has been a clear-headed sounding board when we have struggled with the development of guidelines for the use of the archive. She has also made time to come to the School on numerous occassions to work directly in the collections. Her work with the E.J. Carr materials and also with decisions on sensitive records, and with collection outreach has been invaluable.

Mim Pride served as an interim Director of Pine Mountain Settlement School, following her retirement from Blackburn College in Carlinville, IL. Blackburn College one of a handful of Work-Study colleges is unique in it student-run work program. Her support of student engagement in the archive and deep counsel on institutional alignment called attention to the shifting landscape brought on by the digital world. Her strong support and counsel was a bridge to the larger Board and always a vocal supporter for the PMSS Collections. Her hands-on work with sensitive materials and her consultation and processing is deeply appreciated.

 Peter and Phyllis Rogers offered history, exhibits, advice and historical commentary based on Peter’s many years living at the School as the son of former director Burton Rogers and Mary Rogers . Born at the School, Peter explored every corner of the surrounding woods and participated in many of the main events that took place at the School. He has always been available for assistance on questions regarding the early dance history of the School and the Cecil Sharp and Maude Karples’ visit. Peter’s exploration of the Sawmill Hollow Cave in the Pine Mountain led to the discovery of some unknown cave dwellers now named for him.

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 College and Community Outreach coordinator for Malaprops Bookstore staff came from Asheville to offer valuable organization skills related to the organization of the large body of SIA physical records in the Pine Mountain Settlement School holdings. Her assistance in labeling and analyzing the organizational structure of the PMSS holdings, was invaluable in establishing space and accessibility of this body of material, the largest of our holdings.

Students from the Harlan Challenge Academy helped PMSS staff with the physical move of boxes of collections and books stored at the Office to Boy’s House (Library) where we established the central location of our holdings. 

SANDY MILLER BOT Member (in red) with AET SORORITY VOLUNTEERS

KEEPERS: PMSS Staff

The invaluable work of the PMSS maintenance staff, (Charley, Mark, T.J., Owen, Merle, and others) who whacked metal shelving together and moved walls and old wooden shelving, and retrofitted an upper storage room to accommodate new storage, gave us efficient space for desks and file cabinets and workable space 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 historic restoration work undertaken at Boy’s House (Library). Importantly, in 2021 a new HVAC system was installed in the Archive/Special Collections area, insuring a constant temperature and humidity control for the collections.

Housekeeping and dining, headed by long-time staff member Joyce Scearce, continues to keep us all well-cleaned, well fed and monitored for archive insects and mice that always want to share our space. 

BEREA COLLEGE partners

More recently our partnership with Berea College on two grants initiated by Dr. Jason Cohen has brought us valuable equipment for scanning and a cohort of teachers who will be using Collections in innovative ways in their classrooms. His education interest in the archival holdings has expanded instructional 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 educational outreach and our local connection with the Community surrounding the School. The initial grants have also assisted in establishing guidelines for grant partners at the School.

KEEPERS: The value of community

This brief tribute to our volunteers and staff does not begin to measure their value in our efforts at community outreach. When realized as a community effort, the value of the archive is deeply 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 PMSS Collections over the years by their service and their interest. 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 work of Evelyn K. Wells, Alice Cobb, Mary Rogers, Ruth Smith Creech, Dorothy Nace, Deb Callahan and all the Secretaries who have put their energy into keeping the institutional record accessible, is seen throughout the older materials preservation, transcription, and indexing of vital records.

DEB CALLAHAN

SECRETARY (retired)

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 and memory-slipping keepers now working to make sense of it and to hold it all together in information’s newest medium, digital. We continue to welcome those who may want to join this journey of community, especially those who want to help move the collections into the digital world. Contact the Pine Mountain Settlement School Office and ask for contact information. (606) 558-3571 We often recommend free lodging in return for 8 hour days.

To see the vitas and bios of the Archive/Collections Co-Editors — Ann Angel Eberhardt and Helen Hayes Wykle, follow the links below.

ANN ANGEL EBERHARDT

HELEN HAYES WYKLE

See Also Special Collections Turns a Corner

RETURN TO ARCHIVE Guide