Grassroots Social Activism Records of the Highlander Folk School and Highlander Research and Education Center, 1932-1978

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This collection is from the microfilm holdings of the Wisconsin Historical Society, Madison, WI

The records of the Highlander Folk School document its activities and efforts to close the school include:

  • Appalachian Project
  • Attacks on and investigations of Highlander
  • Citizenship and community leadership programs
  • Leadership training
  • Voter registration,/ul>

    Intended as a workers' education school and community center, the Highlander Folk School was founded in 1932 near Monteagle, Tennessee, by Myles Horton and Don West. Within a short time, however, staff and students initiated direct action through participation in a coal strike at Wilder, Tennessee. Among the early staff members were James Dombrowski, Zilla Hawes, John Thompson, Leon Wilson, Ralph Tefferteller, and Zilphia Horton.

    The School's first activities included classes in socialism, sociology, and economics for community residents and a program of labor education for outside students who boarded at the school. Within six months, these activities expanded beyond the community as staff and students participated in a coal strike at Wilder, Tennessee. One educational principle was applied in these and in all subsequent Highlander activities--that it is necessary to start education where people are and then let them decide what is important for them to know.

    A major portion of the collection consists of the subject files, including correspondence, reports on workshop sessions, class materials and student projects, alumni lists and questionnaires, addresses and speeches, trial transcripts and legal papers, clippings, labor scripts, song books and sheets, field trip reports, conference programs, news releases, writings about Highlander, and writings by staff members.

    50 reels