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Berea's Appalachian Commitment Timeline

Edward Henry Fairchild: President 1869 - 1890


- Edward Henry Fairchild becomes president of Berea College.

- From 1869 to 1893, slightly more than half of Berea’s students are African Americans; about 2/3rds (220-250) were enrolled in elementary schools; 50 in preparatory schools; and 25 to 28 in the college.

1870 - Publicity Folder for 1870 in describing the student body notes, "The loyal white young men and women from the mountains are among the most energetic and promising youths in the State. Many of these are earnest Christians, preparing for teaching and preaching in that destitute field."

1872 - 1872 pamphlet notes "Berea College is . . . the only channel by which that neglected but most interesting field of labor in the mountains of Eastern Kentucky is reached."

1873 - President Fairchild begins to perceive needs in nearby communities, which establishes Berea’s earliest outreach activity. College teachers and students organized Sunday Schools in nearby communities with used books from Berea. This quickly grows into providing sets of Sunday School books to more distant schools.

1875 - The first Mountain Day is held.

1875-76 - Catalog for this year presents the first "Historical Sketch," which notes:
"Probably no college in the state is more patronized by the mountain people. . .”

1878 - A Berea pamphlet states: "The poor white people of the mountains are but little less needy than the colored. In the time of slavery they were literally neglected by the wealthy, and now they are ignorant and poor, and have few aspirations for anything better. The influence of Berea College is constantly extending among them."

1881 - President Fairchild's baccalaureate sermon outlines an agenda for the improvement of mountain life:

  • Need for better teachers & preachers
  • Thorough education of mountain men & women
  • Improved homes and farms
  • Improved school houses
  • Communities with books and newspapers
  • Expanded public school funds
  • Better roads
  • Increased and improved religious practices and improved buildings.
  • All this to be accomplished by the uplift of mountain "sons and daughters".

1882 - Publicity pamphlet includes essay on mountain whites as the "true home mission of the republic."

1883 - President Fairchild writes of the mission of the College in his Berea College, Kentucky: An Interesting History: "This College sustains peculiar relations to two classes of people, who constitute two-thirds of the population of the State—the colored people and the mountain people." He also writes: "There is not a more needy or important field of labor than in these mountains, and the only limit to the labor we can perform is in the limit of our numbers, time and strength." He declared that, "This is the field of Berea College," and that "our great work is among the poor people of Kentucky."