95 Years Old and Still Working


Work has been central to a Berea College education since 1855. After Berea’s Labor Program was formally established, it began setting aside a day each year – Labor Day – to “celebrate work well done.”

The first official Labor Day at Berea College was held 95 year ago, on May 20, 1921. Throughout the day, various labor contests – milking cows, shearing sheep, setting tables, type writing, etc. – were held and in that inaugural year, 134 students received awards for their labor.

A parade of the various labor departments marched across campus to Phelps Stokes Chapel, where President William J. Hutchins addressed them. Some of the contests were conducted in the old Tabernacle (Tab) building and other events took place at the Dairy barn.

Through the years, the format for Berea College’s Labor Day has evolved, but it still functions as an occasion to acknowledge that “labor, mental and manual, has dignity as well as utility,” as stated in Berea’s Eight Great Commitments. Enjoy the photo gallery of images from Labor Day events through the years. For more information about Berea’s Student Labor Program, visit: https://www.berea.edu/labor-program/

Categories: News, Programs and Initiatives
Tags: Commitment, labor day, Labor Program, Students

Berea College, the first interracial and coeducational college in the South, focuses on learning, labor and service. The College only admits academically promising students with limited financial resources—primarily from Kentucky and Appalachia—but welcomes students from 40 states and 70 countries. Every Berea student receives a Tuition Promise Scholarship, which means no Berea student pays for tuition. Berea is one of nine federally recognized Work Colleges, so students work 10 hours or more weekly to earn money for books, housing and meals. The College’s motto, “God has made of one blood all peoples of the earth,” speaks to its inclusive Christian character.