John C. Campbell Folk School

I discovered a wonderful place by way of my Pinterest account today. I Pinned a picture of a lady doing tapestry on what I thought at first was a backstrap loom.


This is the picture I pinned that lead me to the Folk School.

I followed the link to a Flickr page. There I discovered a wonderful place called John C. Campbell Folk School. I looked around on their Flickr page, found their profile, saw the website link, then after visiting the website, I added a new section to my blog — on the homepage of my blog — on the right side — see — sidebar — with heading called “CENTERS FOR HANDCRAFTING AND HOMESTEAD.”  Now there are links under that heading for this wonderful organization. I was so impressed after reading their history page on their website that I copied it below in this post to share with you all! They have open tours of the campus, and they have a gift shop where they sell items made at the school. They also have a history center that is free to visit.  The Folk School was named a Historic District with the National Register of Historic Places on August 22, 1983.

I wish I lived closer so I could go over and check it out now!  For now I will have to check it out online, you can too, and be sure to look at the menu titled “EXPLORE” on left side of screen, see the section called “Come for a Day” to see all the things you can do if you could go for a day! 

The Unique History was copied from the John C. Campbell Folk School page 


Folk School Founders, Olive Dame Campbell and Marguerite Butler

John C. Campbell, born in Indiana in 1867, and raised in Wisconsin, studied education and theology in New England. Like many other idealistic young people of his generation, he felt a calling to humanitarian work.

At the turn of the century, the Southern Appalachian region was viewed as a fertile field for educational and social missions. With his new bride, Olive Dame of Massachusetts, John undertook a fact-finding survey of social conditions in the mountains in 1908-1909. The Campbells outfitted a wagon as a traveling home and studied mountain life from Georgia to West Virginia.

While John interviewed farmers about their agricultural practices, Olive collected ancient Appalachian ballads and studied the handicrafts of the mountain people. Both were hopeful that the quality of life could be improved by education, and in turn, wanted to preserve and share with the rest of the world the wonderful crafts, techniques and tools that mountain people used in every day life.

The folkehojskole (folk school) had long been a force in the rural life of Denmark. These schools for life helped transform the Danish countryside into a vibrant, creative force. The Campbells talked of establishing such a school in the rural southern United States as an alternative to the higher-education facilities that drew young people away from the family farm.

After John died in 1919, Olive and her friend Marguerite Butler traveled to Europe and studied folk schools in Denmark, Sweden and other countries. They returned to the U.S. full of purposeful energy and a determination to start such a school in Appalachia. They realized, more than many reformers of the day, that they could not impose their ideas on the mountain people. They would need to develop a genuine collaboration.

Several locations were under consideration for the experimental school. On an exploratory trip, Miss Butler discussed the idea with Fred O. Scroggs, Brasstown’s local storekeeper, saying that she would be back in a few weeks to determine if area residents had any interest in the idea. When she returned, it was to a meeting of over 200 people at the local church. The people of far west North Carolina enthusiastically pledged labor, building materials and other support.

In 1925, the Folk School began its work. Instruction at the Folk School has always been noncompetitive; there are no credits and no grades. Today, the Folk School offers a unique combination of rich history, beautiful mountain surroundings, and an atmosphere of living and learning together.

Read about our History Center.

A delivery of chairs. Photo circa 1925 from the Folk School archives.

These chairs were crafted by community members and donated to the Folk School during the 1920s. The chairmakers inscribed their family name on the backs of the chairs they made. Many of the chairs are still being used today.

Downtown Brasstown, North Carolina, circa 1925

Brasstown community members pose in front of Fred O. Scroggs’ store. Fred O. Scroggs donated the first 25 acres of land used to start the Folk School. Many community members filled out pledge cards, offering support in the form of labor, livestock — even day lilies for the grounds!

Keith House, John C. Campbell Folk School

Keith House, completed in 1929, is the hub of Folk School and Brasstown activity. In the Community Room, Folk School students and community members come together for concerts, contra dances, auctions and weekly displays of student work.

The Unique History was copied from the John C. Campbell Folk School page 



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