Western Archives Staff Works with BBC Radio to Highlight N.C.’s Black Mountain College

Summer Arts Institute Faculty Black Mountain College 1946

When BBC Radio wanted to research a program about the experimental Black Mountain College, they came directly to the source – NCDNCR’s Western Regional Archives in Asheville. BBC staff visited the archives office last Fall to conduct research, review original documents, and interview Lead Archivist Heather South for the Feb. 12 feature program, “The Experimenters.”

Established in 1933, Black Mountain College focused on arts and creative thinking. Its faculty and students included some of the most progressive artists and thinkers of the time, including John Cage, Robert Rauschenberg, Merce Cunningham, Josef and Anni Albers, Willem de Kooning and Buckminster Fuller. Guest lecturers included Albert Einstein and William Carlos Williams. The school was also one of the first in the South to be integrated, with African American students and teachers.

After the college closed in 1957, its records were in storage until 1963 when they were given to the State Archives of North Carolina. In 2012, all Black Mountain College related collections were transferred to the newly opened Western Regional Archives, where they are currently housed.

In addition to the official records of the college, the archives house two collections of correspondence, interviews and manuscripts, which provided background material not only for the BBC program, but also for the creation of two books about the Black Mountain experience -- one by Martin Duberman and one by Mervin Lane. The Black Mountain College Research Project, which was conducted by the North Carolina Museum of Art, includes hundreds of interviews, documents, and photographs.

Learn more about Black Mountain College at the State Archives of North Carolina website, or by using the archives finding aids: http://archives.ncdcr.gov/Public/Finding-Aids/Western-Regional-Archives-Finding-Aids.

Listen to the full BBC program at the BBC website