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A College For Appalachia

A College For Appalachia: Alice Lloyd on Caney Creek

Copyright Date: 1995
Pages: 240
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  • Book Info
    A College For Appalachia
    Book Description:

    Alice Spencer Geddes Lloyd was a New England woman with a mission in life. In 1916 she settled on Caney Creek in Eastern Kentucky, determined to bring higher education to this remote corner of Appalachia. The school she founded, now Alice Lloyd College, continues to serve the area and its people and to stand as a tribute to Lloyd's remarkable energy, determination, and vision.

    Lloyd's program combined a rigorous academic curriculum with an intense effort to instill a sense of service in the school's graduates. This education was provided free and required only that the students abide by Lloyd's strict rules of conduct and pledge to remain in the mountains after graduating.

    In the first full-scale study of Lloyd's life and work and the institution she founded, David Searles shows how this courageous and complex woman struggled throughout her long life against seemingly insurmountable odds to create an institution dedicated to improving life in Appalachia. But, as he acknowledges, Lloyd's fundraising activities relied on harmful stereotypes that caused resentment among her mountain neighbors, and she often angered others working in the mountains.

    Despite the negative aspects of Lloyd's activities, Searles casts serious doubt on the now fashionable conclusion that the women who came to the mountains to do good created more problems than they solved. Lloyd's story, he argues, demonstrates that much good was indeed accomplished and that the people of the mountains recognized and appreciated her achievement.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-5903-4
    Subjects: History, Education

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. 1 The Alice Lloyd Story and Appalachian Literature
    (pp. 1-18)

    Alice Spencer Geddes Lloyd has left a remarkable legacy in the mountains of Eastern Kentucky.¹ In the small town of Pippa Passes, named by Lloyd after the poem of that name by Robert Browning,² stands a college that for seventy years has enabled thousands of students from Appalachia to obtain a college education at little or no cost.³ In 1962, following her death at the age of eighty-six, the board of trustees changed the college name from Caney Junior College to Alice Lloyd College to honor her as its founder, leader and dedicated servant.⁴ In 1980 the college became a...

  5. 2 The New England Years
    (pp. 19-41)

    Alice Lloyd’s career after 1915, when she first arrived in Kentucky from New England, is quite well known because her work attracted a considerable amount of attention by the national press.¹ These reports, plus the recollections and reminiscences of her former colleagues and students, provide the essential details of the last forty-eight years of her life.²

    What is far less well known is the life she had prior to coming to Kentucky at the age of thirty-eight. In 1970 a researcher writing a 1,500-word biographical piece on Lloyd forNotable American Women: A Biographical Dictionaryconcluded that after her arrival...

  6. 3 Community Development in Knott County
    (pp. 42-59)

    During the spring and summer of 1915 Alice and Arthur Lloyd solicited suggestions from their friends and acquaintances in New England about where they might continue their benevolent work. Among them was Henry White from Boston who wrote to the Hindman Settlement School in July of that year on their behalf. In response, Ruth Huntington, an aide to May Stone, Hindman Settlement School’s founder, referred the Lloyds to the “Presbyterians who are just waking up to social work” and suggested that they seek advice from them.¹ Through this contact the Lloyds were given the use of Hope Cottage, a small...

  7. 4 Higher Education Comes to Knott County
    (pp. 60-75)

    Alice Lloyd decided to place her junior college in a remote Knott County location, an area with no highways, no railroads (other than two small trunk lines into the coal fields) and no prospects for either in the foreseeable future.¹ (Even in 1932, when Ella Geddes, Lloyd’s mother, fell seriously ill, sixty men labored for two days improving the creek-bed so that an ambulance could make its way to the isolated area and bring the woman out to the highway and medical care.)²

    The county had four high schools, sixty-four elementary schools for white children and two elementary schools for...

  8. 5 Our Purpose Is to Train Leaders
    (pp. 76-93)

    The educational mission of Caney Junior College was very well-focused in the early years and remained virtually unchanged until Alice Lloyd’s death in 1962. The school’s purpose was to develop a leadership cadre for the mountains from among those who lived there. Lloyd’s statement of faith was, “The leaders are here.”¹ They needed, she believed, only to be given the opportunity to develop their potential for leadership and to be instilled with a sense of service to insure that the leadership skills were used for appropriate purposes. In 1929 Lloyd announced to her growing list of contributors that “the mountain...

  9. Illustrations
    (pp. None)
  10. 6 The Unwritten Pledge Redeemed
    (pp. 94-107)

    Of all the qualities that Lloyd wanted to instill in her graduates, the single most important one was the commitment to remain in the mountains. Nothing would be accomplished if her charges developed their talents to the fullest and then took them elsewhere. For Lloyd, place of residence would be the sine qua non by which she would judge her graduates.¹

    The urgency she felt in this matter was well founded. For years outmigration had been a major problem for the Appalachian region. As Harry M. Caudill wrote inNight Comes to the Cumberlands, “Nothing was more ruinous [than] the...

  11. 7 Faith and Friends Sustain Us
    (pp. 108-129)

    The Caney Creek Community Center and its educational department, Caney Junior College, were able to exist only because they could raise money for operating expenses and capital improvements from private sources outside the Appalachian region. During the course of her forty-seven years at the center, Alice Lloyd raised about $2.5 million in cash contributions and a very large amount in non-cash donations ranging from books to kitchen equipment to used clothing.¹ To put the $2.5 million in cash into a more meaningful perspective, one can think of the sum as equalling about $20 million in 1990 dollars.²

    In the earliest...

  12. 8 The Post-Lloyd Era
    (pp. 130-144)

    The decade of the 1960s was a watershed period for Caney Junior College. There is little doubt that without the changes in administration, fund-raising, physical facilities, and student regulations that were made in these years the school would have disappeared. While the Appalachian region remained economically impoverished (average annual per capita income in Knott County was only $364 in 1961),¹ it was no longer isolated from the mainstream. Paved roads had reached many parts of the region, most inhabitants lived in small towns rather than remote hollows, there was a functioning public school system, radio and television sets were commonplace,...

  13. 9 Conclusions
    (pp. 145-162)

    Until the mid-1960s historians had looked back upon the American men and women who went off to do good at the turn of the century as a highly motivated group whose purpose was, in the words of Social Gospel proponent Walter Rauschenbusch, to mold “our present conditions … into a juster and happier community.‭”¹ The task of uplifting the poor, the immigrant, the sick, and the downtrodden was seen as a noble endeavor that benefited the recipients, the donors, and the entire society.

    This view began to change when a new breed of scholars, nurtured by the iconoclasm of the...

  14. Notes
    (pp. 163-201)
  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 202-210)
  16. Index
    (pp. 211-218)