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Berea's Appalachian Commitment Timeline

William Goodell Frost: President 1893 - 1920


- William G. Frost becomes President. In his preliminary plan for Berea, Frost writes nothing about Appalachia.

- Beginning of Fireside Industries program.

- 400 students attend Berea at varying levels, nearly equally split between white and black.

- President William G. Frost spends two months riding horseback through the mountains to learn more about the region and its people. He views them as not unlike early New Englanders, having preserved colonial ways, being of patriotic character, and having ultimately supported the Union during the Civil War. Frost notes his feelings toward mountaineers: ". . . not superiority, but fellowship."

- Frost begins a series of reforms that extended course offerings for what "the people really needed." Courses include a variety of two-year courses such as nursing, agriculture, teaching, carpentry, home economics, and a shortened college program called the English course. The College remains for only a select group. By 1913, four scholastic departments are firmly established—College; Academy (9-12); Normal (teachers, 2 years); Vocational (2 years); as well as the lower grades (1-8).

- Committee on Outside Representation begins with a commission of two maps—of families a mile from the college and schools & churches within six miles.

1894 - Publicity pamphlet notes Berea's work in 'effacing sectional lines.' By 1895-96 publicity materials emphasize Berea's mountain work almost exclusively.


- Frost names the mountainous region of the South "Appalachian America." He declares that ''we have discovered a new pioneer region in the mountains of the central South." In the same year, the Berea Quarterly (1895-1916), a pioneer journal of Appalachian Studies, begins publication.

- Homespun Fair showcases traditional arts and culture.

1897 - The Library launches an extension service, loaning out wooden boxes of books to neighboring schools and mountain communities. At its peak, the service had an annual circulation of 60,000.

1898 - Promoted by President Frost, Berea's Fireside Industries are developed. Specializing in weaving and woodwork, these handicrafts are used effectively in fund-raising efforts and to preserve mountain folk arts.


- Frost’s essay “Our Contemporary Ancestors” appears in The Atlantic as one of a series of similar essays about the many cultures of America, including W. E. B. DuBois’ “Striving of the Negro Peoples.”

- The College sends teachers and speakers into mountain counties, many of which are almost inaccessible. Essential topics such as hygiene, forestry, farming methods, home economics, etc. are taught.

1902 - Frost writes an encyclopedia article called “Appalachian America.”

1903 - Carter G. Woodson, who lived most of his life in West Virginia, graduates from Berea.


- The Day Law ends interracial education at Berea.

- 200 black students and around 600 white students are enrolled at Berea; indeterminate number of students from the Appalachian region.


- Berea loses U.S. Supreme Court case contesting Day Law.

- The first of a number of Berea professors begin collecting mountain ballads. James Watt Raine collects some 100 ballads during his career, as well as authoring Land of the Saddlebags, a view of mountain people and mountain customs.

1910 - The Foundation School is instituted for elementary students over fifteen years of age. Children under fifteen constituted the Training School.

1911 - The College Board of Trustees amends the constitution to make the southern mountain region Berea's special field.

1912 - Berea begins cooperation with the U. S. Department of Agriculture in its County Agent extension program. This partnership lasts until 1954. For many years the College provided space for the USDA's Home Demonstration Agent.

1913 - Four scholastic departments were firmly established—College; Academy (9-12); Normal (teachers, 2 years); Vocational (2 years); as well as the lower grades (1-8).


- The first books are set aside in the library for what would become the "Mountain Collection." The library also begins a clipping file of magazine articles concerning life in the mountains.

- Home economics are expanded at Berea by Eleanor Frost. The program included health, sanitation, and model houses to teach.


- Normal School Catalog publishes first list of mountain counties. 263 counties were included from Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia.

- The Berea College Library launches its book wagon service, the first college-sponsored book wagon in the United States, and the first book wagon in Kentucky and in the South. In their first attempt that year, the book wagon served five schools and seventy-five families. In the same year, $25 was requested to expand the fledgling "Mountain Literature Collection."

1917 - Log House Gallery established.