The papers of Alice J. Cutright Kaine document her work primarily as an administrative advisor at the Tuskegee Institute but also include information on her employment as a public school teacher in Springfield, Ill., her service on the board of the Wisconsin Industrial School for Girls and the State Board of Control (for prisons), and her travels to Dixfield, Maine, and Nelson County, Va. The collection contains correspondence, writings, legal papers, printed materials, photographs, and ephemera.
The strength of the collection lies with its documentation of Tuskegee Institute. Kaine was hired in 1894 as the head of the Household Department to supervise everything "from the making of bricks to the baking of white bread." (newsclipping, 1947) At the time, Kaine was the only white person on the Institute's staff.
Letters to her brother, Austin Cutright, describe her work her at Tuskegee Institute as well as the Tuskegee community in general. In these letters she speaks frankly about Booker T. Washington's educational philosophy and management style and her close relationship with Washington's wife Margaret and their children. Kaine visited several black families and churches in Tuskegee with the Washingtons and her letters and writings describe the living conditions and religious services she observed as well as the difficulties she had as a white woman in an all black community.
Approximately half of the correspondence from 1896-1903 consists of letters written to Kaine from Tuskegee administrators and Margaret Washington after Kaine's departure from Tuskegee. Letters from J.H. Washington, Superintendent of Industries, contain information on the maintenance of housekeeping practices established by Kaine. Letters from Margaret Washington are of a more personal nature and contain anecdotes and news from Tuskegee. Several of the writings and speeches concern Kaine's work at Tuskegee and describe her experiences from a sympathetic yet somewhat patronizing point of view. A file of printed materials relates exclusively to Tuskegee Institute, and a portrait of the Washington family (ca. 1895) is filed in the photographs series.
Outside of the materials relating to Tuskegee Institute, the papers provide only fragmented documentation of Kaine's life. A few letters to Kaine in the 1860s and 1870s describe her appointment to various teaching positions. Legal papers, writings and addresses, and newsclippings reflect her work with the Wisconsin Industrial School for Girls, the State Board of Control, and various social and civic organizations.
Earlier letters, chiefly written to her husband, depict Kaine's visits in the 1880s to New England, particularly Dixfield, Maine, and to her ancestral home in Nelson County, Va. Letters from Dixfield describe the local community life in detail. The series of photographs contains several views of Lovingston, Va., including churches, the courthouse, a hotel, Negro houses and other homes. Letters to Kaine from her brother during the 1940s detail his life in Milwaukee during World War II and to some extent Kaine's life at the Grand Army Home until her death.