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Katherine Pettit Papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: BCA 0012 SAA 011

Scope and Contents

These are business and personal correspondence, narrative program reports, and diary transcriptions of Katherine Pettit, cofounder with May Stone, of the Hindman Settlement School in Knott County, Kentucky. This collection contains both paper records and sound recordings.


  • created: 1899-1937


Conditions Governing Access

Records can be accessed through the Reading Room, Berea College Special Collections and Archives, Hutchins Library, Berea College.

Conditions Governing Use

No restrictions other than federal copyright regulations.  Please cite materials.

Biographical / Historical

Katherine Pettit was born in 1868 near Lexington, Kentucky, the child of Benjamin Pettit a prosperous farmer. She went to schools in Lexington and Louisville and developed an interest in the social and educational problems of eastern Kentucky. Her work in summer educational programs (1899-1901), conducted in Knott and Perry counties by the Kentucky Federation of Women’s Clubs, led to her developing a strong desire to make a permanent contribution to the area.  

With financing from the Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU), she and May Stone founded the WCTU Settlement School at Hindman in 1902. Its purpose was to “found, establish, carry on and maintain a school or schools for industrial, intellectual and moral training; to educate the youth of both sexes in habits of sobriety in the mountainous, destitute or needy portions of the State of Kentucky.” The school remained under the sponsorship of the Kentucky WCTU until 1915, when it was formally incorporated as a private, non-profit, non-sectarian, and non-denominational corporation and became known simply as the Hindman Settlement School.

In 1913 Pettit left Hindman for Harlan County where, with Ethel de Long, she established the Pine Mountain Settlement School and served as co-director until retirement in 1930. For the next five years she employed herself in what she termed “free-lance work,” travelling throughout Harlan County urging men to leave welfare and return to farming.  She died in Lexington in 1936 at the age of sixty-eight.


0.80 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Papers and records of Katherine Pettit.

Arrangement Note

The collection is arranged in five series:

Series 1: Correspondence (1899-1935) - This series consists of both business and personal correspondence.  Subjects include Hindman and Pine Mountain Settlement Schools, students recommended for admission to Berea College, and an account of a 1932 trip to South America.

Series 2: Diary Excerpts - This series consists twenty-two, undated, typewritten pages transcribed from a Pettit diary.                                           

Series 3I: Biography-Obituary - This series consists of correspondence and published tributes relating to Pettit’s death in 1936.            

Series 4: Miscellaneous - This series consists of correspondence, news clippings, a Pettit photograph, membership certificate, and an anonymous manuscript entitled A Mountain “Funeralizing” (the style of writing and attention to detail, especially in the description of speech patterns, suggests Josiah Combs as a likely author.)                                                  

Series 5: Summer Program Reports - This series consists of Pettit and May Stone’s accounts of their 1899-1901 work experiences in Knott and Perry counties that led to the establishment of the WCTU Settlement School. The Camp Industrial report includes a list of program participants and transcriptions of letters from them to Pettit and Stone.

Related Materials

Hindman Settlement School Collection

Hindman Settlement School Records

Pine Mountain Settlement School Records

Pine Mountain Settlement School Collection

A. Stucky Papers, 1903-1956

Other Descriptive Information

BCA 0012 SAA 011

Katherine Pettit Papers Finding Aid
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Revision Statements

  • 09099999: The finding aid was updated in February 2015.

Repository Details

Part of the Berea College Special Collections and Archives Repository

Hutchins Library
100 Campus Drive
Berea Kentucky 40404 US