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Horton, Myles, 1905-1990



  • Existence: 1905 - 1990


Myles Falls Horton was born in 1905 in Savannah, Tenn., the son of Elsie Falls and Perry Horton. He attended Cumberland College in Tennessee, Union Theological Seminary in New York City and studied in Denmark.

Inspired by Danish folk high schools, Horton and Congregational minister Don West founded the Highlander Folk School in Grundy County, Monteagle, Tenn., in 1932. The Highlander school followed an unorthodox path to knowledge using education to inspire and empower ordinary people in the struggle for human rights and social justice. The Highlander school helped unionize southern textile workers and coal miners in the 1930s and 1940s, helped advance civil rights in the 1950s and 1960s, and helped change attitudes toward racial injustice and socio-economic equity. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Rosa Parks were among the many influential people that attended workshops at Highlander.

The Highlander school and Myles Horton were seen to many as too radical and controversial. In 1961, the state of Tennessee closed the school, revoked its charter, and sold off the assets at auction. During this time, many of the buildings were burned by arsonists. Undaunted, Myles Horton redesignated the folk school as a research center under a new charter and moved from Monteagle to Knoxville, and then to the present location in New Market, Tenn., where it is now known as the Highlander Research and Education Center.

In 1935, Horton married Zilphia Johnson, a musician and social activist. They had two children, Thorsten and Charis. Zilphia Johnson died in 1956. Horton’s second marriage to Aimee Isgrig ended in divorce. Myles Horton died January 19, 1990.

Found in 3 Collections and/or Records:

Coal Employment Project (CEP) Records

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: AppMs-0355
Scope and Contents The CEP records document not only the daily operations of the organization but also the extensive activities the organization undertook in its support of women miners. Among the types of documents contained in the collection are financial ledgers and balance sheets; grant proposals; personnel leave and hiring records; correspondence between CEP staff members in their different offices; agenda and programs for the CEP national conferences of women miners; audio and videotapes concerning...
Dates: 1977-1991

June M. Rostan Papers

 Collection — Other Boxes 1-4
Identifier: AppMs-0436

The collection is arranged into three series. Series 1, Personal Papers, 1975-1982; Series 2, Professional Papers, 1976-1994; Series 3, Audio Cassettes, undated.

Dates: 1975-1994

Franklin Parker Collection

 Collection — Other Boxes 1-2
Identifier: AppMs-0598
Scope and Contents

The Franklin Parker Collection contains materials that document the life of Myles Horton and his activities at the Highlander Research and Education Center (known prior to 1961 as the Highlander Folk School). Included are articles, newspaper clippings, publications, and correspondence.

Dates: 1941-2001 and undated

Additional filters:

Coal mines and mining 2
Personal papers 2
Photographs 2
Women coal miners 2
Coal mines and mining -- Appalachian Region 1