The Alliance for the Guidance of Rural Youth was a vocational guidance service organization originally created under the leadership of Orie Latham Hatcher as the Virginia Bureau of Vocations for Women (1914-1921), and later known as the Southern Woman's Educational Alliance (1921-1937). Disbanded in 1963. The records comprise an extensive set of organizational records for Alliance for the Guidance of Rural Youth and its predecessors. Series include correspondence, administrative files, project files, conference files, subject files, writings and speeches, publications, clippings, press releases, and photographic materials, which include prints and nitrate negatives. The records document the organization's evolution from its early focus on increasing vocational opportunities for educated southern women and rural high school girls to its later activities in providing county-wide vocational programming for rural youth. Additional subjects addressed in the papers and photographs include economic conditions throughout the South; migration patterns from U.S. rural regions to cities; Appalachian culture, including crafts and music; community life in the South; and employment for African Americans. The collection includes 42 matted platinum prints of rural citizens and scenes in Kentucky taken in the 1930s by noted photographer Doris Ulmann, and include a portrait of her assistant and folklorist, John Jacob Niles.
The records of the Alliance for Guidance of Rural Youth (AGRY) span the years 1887 to 1963, although the bulk of the collection begins in 1914 with the creation of the organization and ends in 1946 with the death of founder and president, Orie Latham Hatcher. Additional records for the Alliance from 1947 to 1963 can be found in the Amber Arthun Warburton papers, also located in the Rubenstein Library.
The records comprise an extensive set of organizational records for AGRY and its predecessors, the Virginia Bureau of Vocations for Women (VBVW) and the Southern Woman's Educational Alliance (SWEA), and document the organization's evolution from its early focus on increasing vocational opportunities for educated southern women and rural high school girls to its later activities in providing county-wide vocational programming for rural youth. Series include correspondence, administrative files, project files, conference files, subject files, writings and speeches, publications, clippings, press releases, and photographic materials, which include prints and nitrate negatives.
Early materials in the Correspondence, Administrative Files, and Clippings and Press Releases series document the Bureau's projects, such as the speaker's bureau and the scholarship program, as well as the Bureau's relationship with other women's organizations such as the Virginia Association of Colleges and Schools for Girls, Southern Collegiate Women (later the American Association of University Women), the National Federation of Business and Professional Women Clubs (BPW), and the National Council of Women.
Strong ties were developed between the Bureau and these organizations during its formative years: Hatcher chaired national and local committees in most of these organizations, and early correspondence and administrative files center on her work with these organizations particularly concerning educational standards and vocational training in women's colleges. In these early records it is often unclear which of these activities were officially adopted by the Bureau or if they were solely Hatcher's activities.
The AGRY's activities documented in the Branch Files Series include benefits, forums, exhibits, and festivals. The New York Branch sponsored several opera benefits to help raise funds during the 1920s. The Rural Mountain Festival, sponsored by the Richmond Branch, was held in 1938. In 1932, the Alliance commissioned noted New York portrait photographer, Doris Ulmann, to photograph rural youth and other individuals in Kentucky. The photographs were subsequently exhibited by several of the branches and were used to promote discussion of vocational issues and the work of the Alliance. Forty-two of these original platinum prints are located in the Photographic Materials Series.
Organizational changes reflected modifications in the organization's goals. Although SWEA continued many of the projects started by the Virginia Bureau, emphasis shifted away from lobbying efforts aimed to open new careers for women and more towards research on women's occupational trends and model guidance counseling programs based on that research. Correspondence during the early 1920s contains letters from faculty and administrators from women's colleges throughout the Northeast and South which describe various approaches (or lack thereof) to providing vocational guidance to students. Administrative files contain information on surveys and on a vocational guidance course for college women which was developed at Goucher College under the auspices of SWEA and tested at Duke University (then Trinity College) and the College of William and Mary. The Publications and Clippings and Press Releases series also contain considerable information regarding Alliance research and activities during this time.
During the mid to late 1920s, SWEA sponsored several research projects through its Rural Guidance Project which examined vocational trends of rural girls in North Carolina and Virginia. While the Correspondence and Administrative Files series document how the projects were organized, the comprehensive data collected during these projects is extant only in resulting SWEA publications such as Rural Girls in the City for Work and the unpublished manuscript "Fifty Rural High School Girls."
Alliance projects in the late 1920s and 1930s consisted of experimental and demonstration guidance programs in rural schools. These projects were located at the Konnarock Training School (Virginia), elementary schools in Albemarle Co., Virginia, Farm Life School (Craven Co., N.C.), and elementary and secondary schools in Breathitt Co., Kentucky, among others. Each of these demonstration projects also resulted in substantial Alliance publications which in most cases represent the bulk of extant documentation of each project. The Photographic Materials series contains many snapshots taken in these various communities, although most are of poor quality and unidentified; there are also negatives in this series. Additional information may also appear scattered throughout Correspondence, Clippings, and Administrative Files series.
The Breathitt County Project Files Series, provides the most comprehensive documentation of the demonstration project which grew to become the Alliance's main research activity from about 1934 to 1942. The project encompassed a wide range of activities including data collection on students' home life, teacher training workshops, vocational guidance programming through the county's Planning Council, and a visit by Eleanor Roosevelt in 1938. Particularly noteworthy in these materials are the extensive raw data files consisting of approximately 2500 autobiographical surveys of students. Additional files contain charts of data compilations and teacher reports which identify trends in students' educational behavior. Photographs of Breathitt County schools, students, and home life, chiefly taken by noted photographer Doris Ullman, are contained in the Photographic Materials Series.
SWEA and AGRY's emphasis on research and dissemination of information was reflected in the increase of published materials produced by the organization. Much of this material is contained in the Publications Series. Clippings of book reviews document the wide-spread acceptance of these publications in a newly emerging field. Several unpublished manuscripts resulting from Alliance research projects are extant in the Writings and Speeches Series and include "Occupations for Educated Women in Durham, Raleigh, and Winston-Salem, North Carolina" (1926), a bound copy of "Fifty Rural High School Girls'' (1930), and final drafts of "When Our Young Folks Come Home to the Smaller Communities" (1945).
Another strategy for publicizing the work of the Alliance was through local and national radio broadcasts. Shows were broadcast from Richmond, New York, and Washington, D.C., and gave information on specific occupations and discussed vocational guidance issues. Broadcast scripts contained in the Writings and Speeches Series feature youths interviewing each other and Orie Hatcher about career goals, a dialogue between Eleanor Roosevelt and Hatcher on the future of rural youth (1938), and a presentation by Amelia Earhart on women in aviation (1931).
The Correspondence, Clippings and Press Releases, and Subject Files series demonstrate the Alliance's shift away from relationships with women's organizations in the late 1920s and towards guidance and educational organizations such as the American Council for Guidance and Personnel Associations (CGPA), National Vocational Guidance Association (NVGA), National Occupational Conference (NOC), National Education Association (NEA), and the U.S. Department of Education in the 1930s. In many of these organizations, Hatcher chaired committees on rural youth, and representatives from these groups served on AGRY's Board of Trustees.
Numerous regional and national conference activities are reflected in the Conference Files Series, with a complete set of conference proceedings and findings contained in the Publications Series. Information on pre-1930s conferences is slim, but additional information on all conferences can be gleaned from the Correspondence and Clippings and Press Releases series. Copies of papers delivered by Alliance members and others are located in the Writings and Speeches Series.
Materials dating past Hatcher's tenure in the Alliance consist mainly of routine administrative correspondence. A more complete set of AGRY organizational records dating from 1947-1963 is located in the papers of Amber Arthun Warburton, her successor. These records continue several series started in the AGRY records such as executive board minutes, publications, project files, and correspondence.