FBI File on the Highlander Folk School

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Overview

The Highlander Folk School was established in Monteagle, Tennessee, in 1932 by Myles Horton, a native Tennessean who wanted to “provide an educational center in the South for the training of rural and industrial leaders, and for the conservation and enrichment of the indigenous cultural values of the mountain.” The school initially educated union workers who were considered promising leadership material; then, in the 1940s, it began accepting African Americans into its program, and emphasis shifted toward aiding southern rural workers. This change raised suspicions among conservative groups, and eventually the school’s charter was revoked because state law required private schools to be racially segregated.

This FBI file, spanning forty years, is rich in school-produced materials and local news clippings. It will interest labor historians, civil rights scholars, and researchers investigating postwar anticommunism, since the school was constantly suspected of having Communist ties.

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