Appalachian Industrial School

The two examples of letterhead stationery for Appalachian Industrial School included above feature the Old English Font on cream colored paper.  This understated style is a popular choice of this time period.  The first letter is standard size, while the second is a half-sheet.  Both are signed by A. Rufus Morgan, an ordained Episcopal Minister and director of the school from 1914 to 1918.

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Appalachian Industrial School was founded as an Episcopal Mission School in 1911.  Sponsored by the Episcopal Church, the school was situated in the mountains of northeast Asheville, North Carolina, on 200 acres.  According to the Encyclopedia of North Carolina, subjects were: English (as required in the North Carolina Course of Study), Bible study, nature study, music, folk dancing, sewing, and manual training. Boys and girls interested in farm life could help with essential activities such as milking, haying, and vegetable gardening. Games were played on the playground, and, when they reached an appropriate age, students were instructed in gardening, cooking, housekeeping, care of farm animals and pets, and taking care of their own clothing. In a shop, some children worked with wood, leather, clay, and paints.

Rev. Rufus Morgan had a vision of expanding the program to include handcrafts and weaving.  In 1923, his sister Lucy, would begin to make his dream a reality.

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Lucy Morgan, a public school teacher and sister of A. Rufus Morgan, joined the Appalachian Industrial School in 1920.  In 1923, during her vacation, Lucy attended weaving classes at Berea Academy in Kentucky.  She came back to the school with an economical vision for the larger community, a revival of the weaving loom.

According to Robin Dreyer, in The Nature of Craft and the Penland Experience, Morgan faced obstacles from Bishop Junius Horner, who said there was no money for the program, and "worried that weaving might be to strenuous for the [women]."  Morgan used her own savings to get the program off the ground.  With the help of local women, she proved the project would work, and was soon backed by the Episcopal Church, and also the government, under the Smith-Hughes Act.  Edward F. Worst, a weaving expert, held a workshop in 1929 at the school.  According to Morgan, this was the birth of Penland School.  

The following photographs illustrate some of the many activities and classes at the school.  The first two photographs are from Penland brochures.  All other photos are from the book of Lucy Morgan's story, Gift from the Hills.  These photographs were taken by member of the Penland staff.

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Forty-eight years later, the success of the school is lauded by East Tennessee State University President, Delos P. Culp.

A Proposed Resolution, submitted to the Tennessee State Board of Education, August 13, 1971, outlined the relationship between East Tennessee State University and the Penland School.

For the past ten years East Tennessee State University has awarded undergraduate and graduate credit in certain designated courses offered at the Penland School of Handicrafts under a cooperative arrangement whereby students enrolled in the Penland School have paid registration fees to East Tennessee State University. . . . The Penland School furnishes all facilities, equipment, materials, and instruction for all students earning credit at East Tennessee State University, and will continue to do so under the previously mentioned cooperative arrangement.

A statement in this brochure says that teachers are not paid.  They work for room and board and travel expenses.  "They do this because they believe that what we are doing here is worthwhile."

In a letter dated September 30, 1971, President D. P. Culp stated the following:

The Penland School is probably the outstanding institution for crafts in the United States.  It was established in 1923 and has operated continuously since then.  It would appear that in advanced ceramics, textiles, glass blowing, and metal smithing, Penland is superior to what we could hope to produce at the University, and they do it at far less cost.

Fees were $5.00 per quarter hour, not to exceed $50 in any quarter.

Two books, housed in the Archives of Appalachia, give the full history of the school that would later become known as the Penland School of Crafts.

Gift from the Hills, by Lucy Morgan with LeGette Blythe, tells Morgan's story in her own words.

The Nature of Craft and the Penland Experience - Celebrating the 75th Anniversary of Penland School of Crafts, provides a history of the school and the crafts movement in America.  Funded by the National Endowment for the Arts and the North Carolina Humanities Council, the 228-page book is filled with beautiful photographs of the world of craft.

Appalachian Industrial School