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The Arthurdale Community SchoolEducation and Reform in Depression Era Appalachia$
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Sam F. Jr. Stack

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780813166889

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813166889.001.0001

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Back to the Land and the Arthurdale School

Back to the Land and the Arthurdale School

(p.23) 2 Back to the Land and the Arthurdale School
The Arthurdale Community School

Sam F. Stack

University Press of Kentucky

This chapter addresses the reformist agenda of the New Deal planners and how the Arthurdale School was conceived as an integral experiment within the subsistence or, earlier, the back-to-the-land movement. The chapter looks at the historical conception of the back-to-the-land movement and its origins and how it developed as a potential idea to build communities for those displaced by the Depression. During the Depression era, this concept came to be known as the subsistence homestead idea and was eventually realized through the passage of the National Industrial Recovery Act of 1933. Leaders in the conception of the federal homesteads included Ellwood Mead and Milburn L. Wilson. The ideal homestead embodied the American conception of pioneer spirit and the virtues believed to be found in rural or country life. The first federal subsistence homestead would be located in north central West Virginia to assist coal miners who had lost their jobs and desperately needed relief. The American Friends Service Committee led the local relief efforts in the area and assisted in the formation of the first homestead at Arthurdale. It addresses the progressive conception of using the school to restore a community life focusing on identity and a sense of place in an economically depressed region in Appalachia.

Keywords:   Back to the land, United Mine Workers, National Industrial Recovery Act, Ellwood Mead, Pioneer spirit, Milburn L. Wilson, Country life, Subsistence homestead, American Friends Service Committee

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