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About this collection

The Black Mountain College digital collection includes a selection of school publications and photographs primarily from The Black Mountain College Research Project, which was conducted by the North Carolina Museum of Art. Many other materials on Black Mountain College are available for research at Western Regional Archives.

 

Black Mountain College (BMC) was an experimental school located in Black Mountain, North Carolina. The college was established in 1933 by John A. Rice and others, many of whom were former students and faculty from Rollins College in Florida. The purpose of the college was to educate the whole person, with an emphasis on the role of the arts and creative thinking. Black Mountain College itself was owned by the faculty, with students playing a significant role in the decision making process. Although grades were kept for transfer purposes, they were not used to evaluate a student's progress. Both faculty and students participated in the work program, which included the daily chores necessary for the upkeep of the school at the Blue Ridge campus. Later, the college purchased land nearby and the work program was expanded to include the construction of college buildings and the maintenance of an inn and farm on the Lake Eden property.

 

The character and focus of Black Mountain College shifted over time, according to the make-up of the faculty and students. Personal and ideological conflicts were common and sometimes lead to major changes in the college community. Lack of funds added to the stress of the situation, as did the school's physical isolation. Eventually, the student enrollment and available funds dwindled until the college was forced to close in 1956.

 

After the college closed, its records were in storage until 1963 when they were given to the State Archives of North Carolina by Charles Olson on behalf of the trustees of the college. In 2012, all Black Mountain College related collections were transferred to the newly opened Western Regional Archives, where they are currently housed.

 
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