A Look Back: May Day

As we leave the month of May behind, I wanted to share some photographs from an event that was celebrated at the Settlement for many years – May Day!  May Day is an annual spring-time gathering held around the world to celebrate the arrival of summer. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries May Day was particularly popular at women’s colleges and academic institutions, which could explain why our founders began their own May Day traditions here at the Settlement.  

May Day at Hindman Settlement School was an outdoor, community celebration that included music, dancing, and the crowning of the May Queen.  The celebration may have ended years ago, but the memories live on in our archives. Take a look!

One of the earliest Hindman Settlement School May Day celebrations. Girls dance at a maypole at the mouth of Combs Branch.


Lining up for a May Day processional, 1956.


Girls dance around the maypole in the courtyard of the Kentucky School of Craft, formerly Hindman High School.


Dancing around the May Pole.


Folk dancing with handkerchiefs.


Boys prepare for folk dancing.


Music was an important part of the May Day celebration.


Children dancing, 1980.


May Day festivities on the lawn. The construction of the May Stone building can be seen in the background.


May Day Court, 1940s (Elizabeth Calhoun, Oberine Hurt, Marion Hope Sturgill, unknown, Mildred Cornett, unknown, Kathleen Gayheart)


May Day Court, 1950s.


May Day Court, 1980.