A Look Back: Social Work in the Early Days of the Settlement

While going through the archives last week, I found an interesting binder of photographs from the early days of the Settlement School.  It belonged to Ernestine Perry and included many of her notes and observations about the people of Hindman and the surrounding county.  There is not much written about Ernestine, but I do know that she was a social worker that lived and worked at the school in the 1920s and 30s. Ernestine enjoyed collecting folk songs and ballads.  She was particularly taken by the dulcimer.

Below I’ve included a selection of pictures from her collection as well as her captions.  Together they can give us an idea of how Ernestine, a social worker, might have viewed the mountains of eastern Kentucky in the early part of the Twentieth Century.

“One of the fine old mountain grannies.”

“A cabin high up on a mountain 15 miles over horseback trails from any town.  THe cabin has been enlarged once to provide for the family of 12.  It looks as if they were planning to enlarge it again.  No windows.  Corn growing to the tops of the mountains.  Soap-making over fire in foreground.”

“Wash Day in the Cumberlands clothes boiled in iron kettle over open fire.”

“Mountainers come into Hindman to vote.  THis picture was taken a few years ago.  Today there would be a few automobiles mixed in with the tethered horses.”

Note: This picture is taken in the dried bed of Troublesome Creek.

“Misstress Pressley and her brother poor widow man with 9 youngun and only one leg.”

“A modern little shepherd of Kingdom Come on the highway that follows the Trail of the Lonesome Pine.”

“The chairmaker in the Cumberlands. Patiently he whittles the hickory stips to make splint-bottom chairs.”

“The kindergarten at its midmorning lunch.”

“Fine up-standing American boys and girls in the mountains have much to give to America.”

“An auction where the old log cabin stands side by side with a clapboard home.  And mountaineers stand side by side with tourists and their automobiles.”

“A typical homeplace in the Ky. mountains  The little picket fence keeps the hogs out of the front yard.  Strings of dried peppers hang from the ceiling of the porch.”

A photograph of Ernestine Perry on the cover of a program for a lecture she was giving.