Pine Mountain Settlement School
Series 09: BIOGRAPHY – Staff
Olive Coolidge, Nurse Assistant, 1941-1942
Olive Coolidge (1920-2008)


Olive Coolidge, c.1941. [coolidge_edited image00142-1.jpg]


TAGS: Olive Coolidge, Grace M. Rood, nurse assistant, Pine Mountain Settlement School worker, 1941-1942, Infirmary, Hill House, health care at PMSS, Wellesley College, letter of application for a PMSS position, sociology students, 


Nurse Assistant September 1941- February 1942

Olive Coolidge had just graduated from Wellesley College in Massachusetts with a Bachelor of Arts degree and was looking for an interesting position. As she wrote in her letter of application to PMSS Director Glyn Morris, dated June 22, 1941, her studies in sociology and publicity work had already prepared her for work as student head of the Wellesley College Press Board, which managed most of the Wellesley news releases, at the Boston Herald processing college correspondence and in charge of sailing at a camp in Hawley, Pennsylvania, for two summers.

It must have greatly helped Olive to gain a PMSS position since she was familiar with the Southern Appalachian region through studies and visits there and through her aunt, Olive Dame Campbell (Mrs. John C. Campbell). It was Mrs. Campbell and Miss Helen Dingman, a teacher at Berea College at the time and well-known for her pioneering work to professionalize social service in Appalachia, who introduced her to the Pine Mountain School. Mrs. Campbell was the founder of the John C. Campbell Folk School in 1925, which focused on improving the quality of life of the mountain people and preserving their crafts. (Over 95 years later, the school, located in Brasstown, North Carolina, continues its mission of “transforming lives through living and learning together.”)

Olive’s publicity experience certainly caught Morris’s eye, as he foresaw a probable need for an enlarged publicity program at the School.

Coolidge’s studies and experiences did not exactly match the current position that Pine Mountain needed so desperately to fill, that of an assistant to Grace Rood, a nurse in the School’s Infirmary. However, as the School had increased its services to the community, Rood’s workload had become difficult for one person to manage. The School did not have the money to hire a second trained nurse but did have enough to hire an assistant at $25 a month. Morris encouraged Olive’s application, assuring her that the work would be interesting and “of benefit not only to our school and the community but…would give you excellent experience.”

The “Work Analysis for Untrained Work at Hospital,” a copy of which was sent to Coolidge, describes the position as follows:

AIM: To help in simple nursing procedures so that the nurse may have more time for teaching. To help also with bookkeeping, ordering of supplies, mending, etc. To relieve at the hospital in the absence of the nurse in order to supervise the students and to have a person present with mature judgment, who will give confidence to any patient. …

NURSING PROCEDURES: If work has not had the Red Cross course in Nurse Aide, every effort will be made to give her as much knowledge as the student workers have. This includes bed-making, bed baths, simple treatments, assistance at deliveries, helping with accident cases. …

If time and interest permit, worker may attend some of the doctor’s clinics.

Besides the regular routine duties, there are many things of interest which a person may do, from making studies of medical work in the mountains to simpler studies of family life. There are many opportunities for learning about people, how the people in the mountains are born, live and die.


173 Olive Coolidge Correspondence. [image00173-scaled.jpg]

All of Olive’s references described her in highly favorable terms. A former supervisor wrote to Morris: “She is a splendid person with a healthy social conscience and an extraordinary interest in people.” Another wrote, “Alive to new ideas, situations and points of view.” Also, “I found her cooperative, full of zest for the task at hand and a good leader… [and] worked easily with people older than she.” Her Aunt Olive Campbell wrote of her fondness for her niece and praised Olive’s abilities.

After a review of Olive’s application, references’ responses and credentials, Morris and the School’s trustees agreed that Olive would be able to handle the job. According to an official memorandum, she was hired “for the school year of 1941-1942 as an assistant to the school nurse at $25 a month plus maintenance and laundry. She was entitled to two weeks’ vacation with pay during the Christmas holidays.”


Although working full-time as a nurse’s helper, Olive found time to serve on the staff of The Pine Cone, a school and community newsletter published monthly by PMSS students. Working on publicity for The Pine Cone, she was able to draw upon her previous studies and experiences in that field.

Olive’s letters and notes to Morris during her employment indicate that she was dedicated to helping Miss Rood and was concerned when she (Olive) had to end her position earlier than planned. Grace Rood, a graduate of Johns Hopkins University, had extensive experience and a very long tenure at Pine Mountain. She was instrumental in steering many students into nursing careers and inspiring them with her work ethic. 

While visiting her family on her Christmas vacation, Olive wrote to Morris on January 6, 1942, that she had contracted the “grippe” and was not able to return to Pine Mountain until February. Also, she wrote, “I do not feel I can stay through to June at Pine Mountain. I do plan to be married earlier and so would like to be here for most of the spring.”


On August 28, 1942, Olive married Robert Butman, whom she had known since third grade. They had three children: a daughter, Marcia Butman, and two sons, Dr. Bradford Butman and John Butman.

In 1968, Olive earned her master’s degree in education from Tufts University, Medford, MA. She joined the Littleton (MA) Public School system as a guidance counselor, and, from 1968 to 1984, helped students and supported teachers at the Shaker Lane Elementary School in Littleton.

Her obituary describes her as a “lifelong summer resident of Nantucket…and ardent conservationist.” As a lover of the outdoors, she enjoyed ice skating on the Concord’s rivers, skiing at Pukatasset and sailing, hiking and camping with family and friends. Her ability to “bring people together around family, political and social causes” was considered exceptional.


Olive Dame Coolidge, known since childhood as “Oggy” and as “Coolly” by her PMSS co-workers, was born on January 26, 1920, in Medford, Massachusetts, joining her only sibling, William Bradford Coolidge, who was born four years earlier. Her parents were Ruth Dame Coolidge and Richard Bradford Coolidge, a lawyer, who traced his family line to William Bradford, long-serving governor of the Plymouth colony.

After a lengthy battle with Alzheimer’s disease, Olive Coolidge died on May 23, 2008, in Lexington, MA, at the age of 88.

See Also:
MEDICAL – Introduction
OLIVE COOLIDGE Correspondence


Olive Coolidge

Alt. Title

Olive D. Coolidge ; Olive Dame Coolidge ; Mrs.Olive Dame Coolidge Butman ; Mrs. Robert Butman ; Olive “Oggy” Coolidge ; Olive “Coolly” Collidge ; 




Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY

Alt. Creator

Ann Angel Eberhardt ; Helen Hayes Wykle ;

Subject Keyword

Olive D. Coolidge ; Olive Dame Coolidge ; Mrs.Olive Dame Coolidge Butman ; Mrs. Robert Butman ; Olive “Oggy” Coolidge ;  Pine Mountain Settlement School ; Olive Dame Campbell ; John C. Campbell Folk Schoo ; Helen Dingman ; Grace Rood ; nurses ; Infirmary ; The Pine Cone ; publicity ; grippe ; 

Subject LCSH

Coolidge, Olive Dame, — January 26, 1920 – May 23, 2008.
Pine Mountain Settlement School (Pine Mountain, Ky.) — History.
Harlan County (Ky.) — History.
Education — Kentucky — Harlan County.
Rural schools — Kentucky — History.
Schools — Appalachian Region, Southern.


2020-06-29 aae


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/Personnel




Is related to: Pine Mountain Settlement School Collections, Series 09: Biography – Staff/Personnel.

Coverage Temporal

1920 – 2008

Coverage Spatial

Pine Mountain, KY ; Harlan County, KY ; Medford, MA ; Nantucket, MA ; Brasstown, NC ; Lexington, MA ; Littleton, MA ; Berea, KY ; 


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 Olive Dame Coolidge ; clippings, photographs, books by or about Olive Dame Coolidge ;




“[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

2020-08-28 aae ; 



“Olive Coolidge,” Series 09: Biography. Pine Mountain Settlement School Institutional Papers. Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY. Internet resource.

“United States Census, 1930,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XQP6-F16 : accessed 29 June 2020), Olive D Coolidge in household of Richard B Corbridge (sic), Medford, Middlesex, Massachusetts, United States. (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 2002. Internet resource.

“Olive Coolidge Butman died Friday, May 23, 2008, at Pine Knoll Nursing Center in Lexington.” Obituary, Wicked Local Concord: The Concord (MA) Journal. Internet resource.

“Olive ‘Oggy’ Butman.” Obituary, The Boston Globe. Internet resource.

“United States, GenealogyBank Obituaries, 1980-2014,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QK5R-6T79 : accessed 30 June 2020), Mrs Olive Dame Coolidge Butman, Massachusetts, United States; from “Recent Newspaper Obituaries (1977 – Today),” database, GenealogyBank.com (http://www.genealogybank.com : 2014); citing Lexington Minuteman, born-digital text. Internet resource.

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