Pine Mountain Settlement School
Series 09: BIOGRAPHY – Staff/Personnel
Ruth Elizabeth Campbell STAFF
Office Secretary, Teacher (1927-1931); Advisory Board
Published 2021-03-26 aae


TAGS: Ruth Elizabeth Campbell, Ruth E. Campbell, Wellesley College, Evelyn K. Wells, Angela Melville, Cooperative Bureau for Women Teachers, Bryn Mawr Summer School for Women Workers in Industry, Ethel de Long Zande, teachers, secretaries, poetry, Hubert Hadley, Glyn A. Morris, The American Scholar, donations, publicity tours, fundraising talks


When Ruth Elizabeth Campbell applied for a position with the Pine Mountain Settlement School (PMSS) on July 4, 1927, she was 20 years old. Her application indicates that she was born to missionary parents on August 15, 1906, in Mussoorie, India, and lived there until 1910. She had attended Hannah More Academy (Reisterstown, Maryland) in 1922-1923 and recently graduated with a B.A. from Wellesley College in Massachusetts, where she studied English literature and composition, education, and psychology. However, she felt she lacked experience, writing on her application that

I am deeply interested in the work done by the Pine Mountain School, both in the Industrial Training given and in the extension work, although I fear I should not be of much service in either field of work, since I am wholly without training.” 

This did not deter Evelyn K. Wells, then secretary in the PMSS Office, from considering Campbell, since she received a positive recommendation concerning Campbell from former PMSS worker and friend, Angela Melville, who was director of the Cooperative Bureau for Women Teachers, New York, NY. Melville wrote:

“You will notice that Miss Campbell has had no teaching experience, but that her letters from Wellesley are excellent, with promise that she can make an unusually fine teacher. I hope that you can consider her.”

It was also likely helpful that Campbell expressed interest in Pine Mountain’s industrial training and indicated that she was scheduled to work at the Bryn Mawr (PA) Summer School for Women Workers in Industry that summer as an undergraduate assistant.

Even PMSS Director Ethel de Long Zande was interested. She wrote Campbell that, even though the school was not considering inexperienced applicants, Campbell was an exception: “I feel that you could contribute largely to the life of our young people, and of course it would be a wonderful experience for you.

Mrs. Zande interviewed Campbell in Baltimore in July 1927 and, during their meeting, offered her a Pine Mountain position for the 1927-1928 school year at $500.00 for nine months plus living expenses. Campbell was asked to teach history, physical science, and swimming, according to Zande’s handwritten notes during the interview.

A letter to Campbell, possibly from Wells, described the PMSS teaching position: 

“The teachers live in the dormitories — cottages, they really are, taking part in the life of the children very fully and completely. They supervise study hour, help clean the schoolhouse, take Sunday School classes, and fill in in other ways, besides their teaching. As half the school works while the other half goes to school, the teaching schedule is rather light.”


Miss Campbell accepted the position and arrived at Pine Mountain on August 20, 1927, to temporarily assist in the Office. When the school year began, she assumed the duties of a class instructor. 

A March 7, 1930, unsigned letter to the Cooperative Bureau of Women Teachers stated that, for the first two years, she taught physical education and folk dancing and coached basketball. Harriet Crutchfield described Ruth Campbell in her 1928 journal as a teacher of history, civics, economics & geometry, besides gym and all the folk dancing.

By December 1927, however, she met with an accident. A fall resulted in a broken ankle and a lengthy stay at St. Joseph’s Infirmary in Louisville, KY. In one of her letters to Mrs. Zande during this time, she became philosophical and asked, “Do you not admire the serious turn my mind has taken since my fall? From necessity, since I cannot use my feet, I use my head. I am not yet as agile with the one as I was with the other.” About her transport from Pine Mountain to Louisville after her fall, she describes being

“…carried across Pine Mountain on a stretcher on a glorious December day, with shadows on the snow on Black Mountain, and the sound of wind coming down the hollows….surrounded by an escort of six mountain men. Lighted only by a lantern and a flashlight. You wait for the train; till you’re hoisted from below and pulled from above through a Pullman window by the assistance of interested brakemen, conductors, and passengers, and lowered again the next morning by the same method to the Louisville platform, to the great pleasure of all onlookers. There is zest in such a trip.” 

In the summer of 1929, Campbell studied shorthand and typewriting, returning to PMSS in the fall as a secretary for four months under Director Hubert Hadley. She then became ill, requiring surgery at the Women’s Hospital in Cleveland, Ohio. She returned to PMSS in April 1930 with plans to continue her year’s work through the summer and into the fall as the school secretary. She continued in that role until she left the school sometime in early 1931.

After three years at Pine Mountain, Miss Campbell left a positive impression on those with whom she worked. The March 7, 1930, unsigned letter (mentioned above) from Pine Mountain to the Cooperative Bureau for Women Teachers describes Campbell as

“a person of a good deal of charm, extremely well-bred, and a most capable and loyal worker. She is intellectual combined with which she loved out of doors, so that she has fitted in rather remarkably in a place of this kind.”

Hadley was thoroughly pleased with Campbell’s work, writing in a letter to the personnel office at Wellesley College on February 23, 1931, that she had “shown marked executive ability in the administration of various projects…” Also, he mentioned that she assisted in writing school literature which was published three or four times a year. This writing project was a foreshadowing of the course that she would follow in her future career. 


The 1947 PMSS Calendar featured a poem by Ruth E. Campbell. For a transcription of the poem, go to PMSS Calendar 1947.

“The poem by Ruth E. Campbell from ‘Mountain Tributary,’ which accompanies the beautiful painting by Abbie Winch Christensen, calls forward the deep poverty and despair of the time but the beauty and hope that sits just on the crest of the mountain.” (Source: ABBIE WINCH CHRISTENSEN Art)  

Also by Ruth E. Campbell:


Who will promise his love a wonder
When the spring of the year is dead?
Or who will tell in a future hour
Of a kiss today unsaid?

— Ruth Elizabeth Campbell, 1927.


In 1931 Glyn A. Morris became the next director of the Pine Mountain Settlement School. Upon hearing that news, Ruth Elizabeth Campbell sent him these greetings from her home in Berryville, Virginia:

“You have probably learned that one cannot be long at Pine Mountain without becoming extremely attached to it and extremely alive to its needs and its development in the future. I do most sincerely wish you happiness and difficulties not so insuperable that they rob Pine Mountain of its joys for you. … If ever I can help you please let me know.” 

That was the beginning of a friendship between Morris and Campbell, mostly through correspondence but also as a result of their meetings at Pine Mountain or in New York City, where Campbell had found work in 1932 as an assistant editor for The American Scholar, a quarterly literary magazine of the Phi Beta Kappa Society, established in 1932. Angela Melville, a former PMSS worker, was by this time also employed by the same publishing company as the secretary for circulation.

Letters in the PMSS Archives between Morris and Campbell date from 1931 through 1935. They detail efforts by both Campbell and Melville in New York to assist Morris and his secretary, Miss Alice Cobb, in planning fundraising talks to groups in the New York City area, such as the Business Women’s Club of the Central Congregational Church in Brooklyn, the Junior and Senior League in Flushing, Long Island, and the Women’s Club in Elizabeth, New Jersey. This required finding interested groups, scheduling the talks, researching and planning topics, and gathering visual aids, such as PMSS movies and handicrafts. On some of his trips, Morris also brought along students to demonstrate country dancing and ballad singing. 

In his letters, Morris often updated Campbell about activities and developments at the School. Many of Campbell’s letters to Morris contained donations to the School as well as her thoughts and suggestions concerning the activities of the School.  

In the spring of 1935, Angela Melville left The American Scholar and moved south to organize and run a cooperative outlet for handcrafted products of the Southern Mountain region. Campbell informed Morris that, without Melville’s help, she could no longer plan his meetings in the future. Instead, she suggested that it would be more productive if Morris arranged with official heads of groups himself and offered to send him ideas for new groups. 

Campbell’s volunteer assistance with the publicity tours was a valuable resource for the School. Alice Cobb wrote to her that “I can’t tell you how much we appreciate the warmth and sympathy we always feel in your letters, and your work in New York for Pine Mountain.” (The two finally met in New York during the summer of 1935, sharing stories “secretary to secretary,” of their PMSS experiences, when Cobb was taking courses at Columbia University and Union Theological Seminary.)

The last letter in Campbell’s file is dated December 1935. If further correspondence is found in the PMSS Archives, it will be added to this page.

See Also:
RUTH ELIZABETH CAMPBELL Correspondence I – July 1927-February 1931
RUTH ELIZABETH CAMPBELL Correspondence II – February 1931-December 1932
RUTH ELIZABETH CAMPBELL Correspondence III – March 1934-December 1935



Ruth Elizabeth Campbell

Alt. Title

Ruth E. Campbell ; Ruth Campbell ;



Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY.

Alt. Creator

Ann Angel Eberhardt ; Helen Hayes Wykle ;

Subject Keyword

Ruth Elizabeth Campbell ; Pine Mountain Settlement School ; Ruth E. Campbell ; Hannah More Academy ; Wellesley College ; Evelyn K. Wells ; Angela Melville ; Cooperative Bureau for Women Teachers ; Bryn Mawr Summer School for Women Workers in Industry ; Ethel de Long Zande ; teachers ; St. Joseph’s Infirmary ; secretaries ; poetry ; Hubert Hadley ; Glyn A. Morris ; The American Scholar ; Central Congregational Church ; donations ; publicity tours ; fundraising talks ;

Subject LCSH

Campbell, Ruth Elizabeth.
Pine Mountain Settlement School (Pine Mountain, Ky.) — History.
Harlan County (Ky.) — History.
Education — Kentucky — Harlan County.
Rural schools — Kentucky — History.
Schools — Appalachian Region, Southern.


2021-03-26 hw / aae


Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY.




Collections ; text ; image ;


Original and copies of documents and correspondence in file folders in the filing cabinet


Series 09: Biography – Staff/Personnel.




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

Coverage Temporal

1927 – 1935

Coverage Spatial

Pine Mountain, KY ; Harlan County, KY ; Reisterstown, MD ; Wellesley, MA ; New York, NY; Bryn Mawr, PA ; Baltimore, MD ; Louisville, KY ; Cleveland, OH ; Berryville, VA ; Flushing, NY ; Brooklyn, NY ; Elizabeth, NJ ;


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 and administrative papers of Ruth Elizabeth Campbell ; clippings, photographs, books by or about Ruth Elizabeth Campbell.




“[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




The American Scholar.  Phi Beta Kappa Society, 1997. Print.Internet resource.

RUTH ELIZABETH CORRESPONDENCE I, II, and III. Pine Mountain Settlement School Institutional Papers. Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY. Internet resource.

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