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About Special Collections & Archives

Information about Berea College Special Collections & Archives

Online Resources

Berea College Special Collections and Archives data can be accessed remotely through the Digital CollectionsSound Archives, and Finding Aid links. Additionally, some departmental resources are represented online through curated virtual exhibits, digital projects, and cooperative initiatives. 

Online Exhibits

This exhibition presents a series of prints from the Special Collections that were published by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) in 1937. The prints illustrated and deconstructed historic quilt blocks so that their designs could be appreciated and appropriated by new generations of quilters. (2022) Online exhibit created by Hutchins Library Digital Initiatives. 

Works of Art on the Art of Quilting: Twenty WPA Quilt Block Prints  

This exhibition presents a series of prints from the Special Collections that were published by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) in 1937. The prints illustrated and deconstructed historic quilt blocks so that their designs could be appreciated and appropriated by new generations of quilters. (2022) Online exhibit created by Hutchins Library Digital Initiatives.

Writings of Paul Laurence Dunbar in the Berea College Special Collections and Archives

One of America’s great poets, Paul Laurence Dunbar was born in Dayton, Ohio on June 27, 1872, the son of parents who had been enslaved in Kentucky. His first book of poetry was published in Dayton in 1893. By the late 1890s Dunbar had become a writer of national and international acclaim. He died of tuberculosis on February 9, 1906 at the age of thirty-three.
Paul Laurence Dunbar's published writings include poetry, short stories, novels, essays, songs, librettos, and a one-act musical. Hutchins Library invites you to encounter early copies of Dunbar's works and to consider his literary legacy in the context of his times and life experiences.
This online exhibit highlights Special Collections copies of works by Paul Laurence Dunbar that were printed before 1910 and Dunbar-related documents from the Archives. All items may be viewed in the SCA Reading Room by appointment. (2021)

The Path to Woman Suffrage in the United States: 1848-1920

The story of woman suffrage in the United States is one of more than seven decades of debate, progress, and setbacks culminating in the passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution in 1920. Berea College Special Collections and Archives invites you to revisit that journey by encountering works published for and against the cause of woman suffrage during the nineteenth century and the early twentieth century.
This online exhibit introduces sixteen books, essays, and addresses selected from the Curio Book Collection and Archives. Most of these works were written by women who were directly involved in the promotion of woman suffrage. The remainder were written by men either proposing or opposing woman suffrage. (2020)

Berea's Rhythm and Roots

The voices and music heard on these pages help bring to the present the people, themes and events depicted through the photographs and text panels of Hutchins Library's exhibit, Berea's Rhythm and Roots. The exhibit traces the progress of how the home-made music of the southern Appalachians has been given expression at Berea College. This music was in the air and on the minds of the Berea community early in the College's history. It has been an ongoing presence over the years and continues to be a key ingredient in the dynamic mix of tradition, change, and diversity that informs Berea's Appalachian commitment as the twenty-first century progresses.

Historical Survey of Log Structures in Southern Appalachia

This resource was originally in the form of a synchronized slide-tape program created in 1976 by the Berea College Appalachian Museum. In the early 2000s, Berea’s Department of Special Collections and Archives combined the script and images in a single-page illustrated essay for inclusion in the Digital Library of Appalachia. The present revised version (2021) benefits from more current technology that optimizes both preservation and ease of access for the original content.

Digital Projects

Archive-It web archiving

Berea College archived websites include The Pinnacle (student newspaper) and the Bereans and COVID-19 documentation project.

Southarts: In These Mountains Central Appalachian Arts and Culture

The South Arts In These Mountains collection documents various aspects of folk arts and culture in the central Appalachian counties of Kentucky, Tennessee, and North Carolina through the use of audio / video recording and photography.
Conducted during the period 2019-2021, the interviews document a wide range of artistic expression including pottery, puppetry, hip-hop and rap music, ukulele music, tattoo arts, food preservation, clogging, chair caning, quiltmaking, hair braiding, basketry, preaching, and land use. In addition to the work of individual artists, folk arts education programs are also documented. (2023)

Preserving Appalachian Voices in the

Michael and Carrie Nobel Kline Collection

This initiative provides online access to more than 700 audio and video recordings created by folklorists Michael and Carrie Nobel Kline. The focus of the project was to save field recordings made between 1994 and 2006 documenting families and communities in an area that stretches from Parkersburg, West Virginia to the coal region of Northeastern Pennsylvania. (2019-2020)

Collaborative Initiatives

AM: Slavery, Abolition and Social Justice database

This commercial research database includes more than 1,000 images representing 106 documents, photographs, and publications from the Berea College Special Collections and Archives. Themes include abolitionists, Berea College's founding, inter-racial education, the Day Law, and Lincoln Institute.

(Note: Subscription or Berea College login required.)

The Black Teacher Archive

The Black Teacher Archive is a freely available digital portal centralizing materials created by professional organizations of African American educators, historically referred to as Colored Teachers Associations (CTAs). 

Berea College Special Collections and Archives contributed 15 periodicals to this research database.

Digital Library of Appalachia

The Digital Library of Appalachia is a shared online database of resources from 23 members of the Appalachian College Association. DLA access is free to all.

Berea College Special Collections and Archives contributed more than 5,000 images, audio recordings, and essays to this important regional database. Our materials focus on traditional Appalachian music and spoken lore, Civil War amnesty letters, and Appalachian artifacts.

Lomax Kentucky Recordings

These are documentary sound recordings of rural Kentucky music and lore collected under the auspices of the Archive of American Folk Song at the Library of Congress between 1933 and 1942. Performed by farmers, laborers, coal miners, preachers, housewives, public officials, soldiers, grandparents, adolescents, and itinerant musicians, they present a full spectrum of traditional expressive culture from twelve of Eastern Kentucky’s mountain counties: ballads and lyric songs, play-party ditties and comic pieces, topical and protest material, fiddle and banjo tunes, hymns and sacred songs, children's games and lullabies, and a variety of spoken lore—religious testimonies, occupational reminiscences, tall tales, jokes, and family and personal narratives.

NOAA Voices Oral History Archives

The NOAA Voices Oral History Archives program collects and shares oral history interviews related to the changing environment, climate, oceans and coasts. 101 interviews from Berea College Special Collections and Archives are included in the Voices database.

The Peripheral Manuscripts Project - 

Digitizing Medieval Manuscripts in the Midwest


Online access coming soon!