The Story of Hindman Settlement School
The first and most successful rural social settlement school in the United States lies at the forks of Troublesome Creek in Knott County, Kentucky. Since its founding in 1902 by reform leaders May Stone and Katherine Pettit, Hindman Settlement School has received accolades for its education, health and community services, which have measurably improved the lives of people in the Appalachian region.
Challenge and Change in Appalachia: The Story of Hindman Settlement School charts the life of a groundbreaking center for education that transformed a community. Growing out of the Progressive movement, the school embraced many of the same types of programs as urban settlement houses and worked toward providing educational opportunities for adults and children in the area. Additionally, the school was tailored to serve the community’s particular needs, as its farms and extension work brought modern methods to the area. At the same time, the school encouraged preservation of the region’s crafts and music and worked to keep the area’s youth “mindful of their heritage.”
Hindman School has continued to adapt its mission and programs to reflect the needs of the community and during the past 28 years, under the direction of Mike Mullins, the school has developed a wider sphere of influence. Today, the school runs unique programs for children with learning disabilities, including the only full-time school for dyslexic children in Appalachia, and is deeply involved in working to increase adult literacy. With the integral participation of the school, Knott County was awarded a Community Development Initiative grant that will allow Hindman to help shape the area into a regional center for education, arts and crafts, and cultural heritage activities.
For over 100 years, Hindman Settlement School has served as a model for educational and settlement institutions across the country. By responding to its changing community, the school continues to foster rural redevelopment even as it celebrates the literary, musical, and craft heritage of central Appalachia.
Jess Stoddart is a professor of History at San Diego State University. She teaches both English and American History. She has published articles on the House of Lords and a centennial book, Eleanor Roosevelt, an American Journey (1987). Her family pioneered in the Kentucky Mountains more than 150 years ago and her mother and several aunts and uncles attended the Hindman Settlement School. Stoddart has been a member of the board of directors of the Hindman Settlement School since 1997.