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Friends' Central School records


Held at: Friends' Central School Archives [Contact Us]1101 City Avenue, Wynnewood, PA, 19096

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Friends' Central School Archives. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

Friends' Central School is a Quaker (Religious Society of Friends), co-educational, private school for children in nursery school through 12th grade. The school was established in 1845 in Center City Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It moved to its current location, formerly the Wistar-Morris estate known as Green Hill Farm, on City Avenue in Wynnewood, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania in 1925. As of 2014, Friends' Central's upper (grades 9-12) and middle (grades 6-8) schools occupy the City Avenue main campus, while the lower school (nursery school-5th grade) is located at another property in Wynnewood.

"The School, formed by the Joint Committee on Education of the Cherry Street, Green Street, and Spruce Street [Quaker] Meetings [in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania], opened its doors in 1845 with an enrollment of approximately 200 students. Affiliated with the School were three elementary Friends Schools. After completing 6th grade, the students came to the 'Central' school for their secondary education; hence, the name 'Friends' Central.'

"The School functioned in its original location at Fourth and Cherry Streets until 1857, when the Cherry Street Monthly Meeting disposed of its holdings and a new building was erected adjacent to the new Meeting House at Fifteenth and Race Streets. In 1925, recognizing the benefits of a larger, greener campus, the School moved from Center City to the 23-acre Wist[a]r-Morris estate on City Avenue. Once again, in 1988, the Board of Trustees recognized the need for growth and expansion and purchased the former Montgomery [Country Day] School property in Wynnewood. The Lower School moved to its own spacious 18-acre campus in 1990."


Quoted text from: Friends' Central School. "About Friends' Central: Our History." Accessed November 14, 2014.

The Friends' Central School records, 1785-2016 (bulk 1845-2016), consist of administrative and financial records, enrollment records, personal papers, school publications and ephemera, photographs, scrapbooks, slides, audiovisual materials in various formats, objects and other materials from and relating to the administration, faculty and staff, students, and alumni, of Friends' Central School. The collection is arranged into seven series: I. Administration, II. Faculty and staff, III. Students, IV. Alumni, V. Publications, VI. Audiovisual materials, and VII. Objects.

Series I. Administration consists of materials from the Friends' Central School Corporation and Board of Trustees including: photographs, minutes, annual reports, financial records, bank and insurance documents, accreditation reports, blueprints and photographs of school buildings and grounds, property documents including 18th century deeds, and other items.

Series II. Faculty and staff consists of materials from and relating to Friends' Central teachers, staff members, headmasters, and academic departments. Included are photographs, correspondence, meeting minutes, alphabetical files on individual faculty and staff members, files on academic departments and staff offices, and other materials. There are several small accumulations of papers from particular faculty and staff members. Of special interest are the papers of Clayton Farraday, longtime upper school principal who wrote a history of Friends' Central, and Eliza Engles Blackburn, a teacher and dean noted for her service to the school.

Series III. Students consists of materials from or relating to Friends' Central School students, including: class photos and other photographs of students; materials relating to student life and activities, such as student projects and student groups, clubs, and teams; student records; and commencement ephemera and other related materials. Of special interest is a 19th century student autograph book signed by Friends' Central Writing Master, Benjamin Eakins, father of artist Thomas Eakins.

Series IV. Alumni consists of materials from or relating to Friends' Central School alumni, including: reunion materials, records of two alumni groups (the Alumni Association and the Old Pupils Association), alumni information binders, alphabetical files on alumni, photographs, and other materials. Also available on-site is an index card file of alumni. All cards have the student's name and year of graduation, and many cards have an address and other information noted.

Series V. Publications consist of printed material published by the school including school directories, alumni directories, anniversary materials, school magazines and newsletters for parents and alumni, course catalogs, brochures, commencement programs, yearbooks, student literary magazines, and the school newspaper. Some ephemera and press clippings on the school are considered part of this series.

Series VI. Audiovisual materials consists of slides, VHS cassette tapes, audiocassette tapes, DVDs, CDs, film reels, film negatives and contact sheets, and other materials. Depicted are class trips, drama productions and other student activities, school athletic teams, class reunions, commencement, and other topics.

Series VII. Objects consists of school memorabilia, sports uniforms and equipment, dishware, classroom equipment, and other materials.

A digital database of Friends' Central associates--alumni, faculty, staff, alumni parents, and others--is also available on-site.

Summary descriptive information on this collection was compiled in 2014-2016 as part of a project conducted by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania to make better known and more accessible the largely hidden collections of small, primarily volunteer run repositories in the Philadelphia area. The Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories (HCI-PSAR) was funded by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

This is a preliminary finding aid. No physical processing, rehousing, reorganizing, or folder listing was accomplished during the HCI-PSAR project.

In some cases, more detailed inventories or finding aids may be available on-site at the repository where this collection is held; please contact Friends' Central School directly for more information.

Friends' Central School Archives
Finding Aid Author
Finding aid prepared by Celia Caust-Ellenbogen and Sarah Leu through the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories
This preliminary finding aid was created as part of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories. The HCI-PSAR project was made possible by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Access Restrictions

Contact Friends' Central School for information about accessing this collection.

Collection Inventory

a. Friends' Central School Board of Trustees minutes, 1951-1995, and photos, by-laws, and committees.
b. Friends' Central School Corporation committees minutes and annual reports.
c. Bank, insurance, and property documents, 1785-circa 2010.
d. Financial ledgers, principally payroll, receipts, and disbursements.
e. Accreditation reports, 1955-2007.
f. Audit reports, 1952-2005.
g. Building and grounds - blueprints and photographs of City Avenue and 15th and Race locations.

a. Faculty minutes, 1937-2014.
b. Faculty photos, 1890-2014.
c. Faculty and staff members' papers (large amount from principal Clayton Farraday) - correspondence, writings, research notes, photographs, curricula and class planning, clippings.
d. Alphabetical files on faculty members, academic departments and other divisions (such as athletics), and staff offices (such as admissions, development, Home and School Association) - correspondence, writings, clippings, photographs, and other papers.

a. Student photographs, organized by class (class of 1880 to class of 2018).
b. Photos of student life and activities (such as day camp, Olympic Day, and field trips), organized by activity.
c. Student projects.
d. Student notebooks (class notes), autograph books, photograph albums, and diplomas.
e. Student groups, clubs, and teams (such as Music Box and other music groups, athletic teams, drama program, and others) - mostly photos, some programs, flyers, posters.
f. Student records, including grade reports, enrollment and roll books, and tuition and fees, 1845-1970s.
g. Commencement photographs, diplomas, essays and speeches, 1930s-2013.

a. Alumni Association records, including by-laws and Executive Committee minutes, 1881-1937.
b. Old Pupils Association minutes, 1902-1944.
c. Alphabetical files on alumni - mostly publications with alumni works, also some clippings, correspondence, honors received by alumni, and other documents, mostly late 20th century.
d. Binders of alumni information, 1845-1992.
e. Reunion materials - reunion booklets, photographs, scrapbooks of class member updates, homecoming alumni registers.

a. Directories, 1930-2011.
b. Alumni directories, 1989-2005.
c. School magazines ("Directions" and "Quaker Works"), 1954-2014.
d. "Parents' Bulletin," 1946-1968.
e. Course catalogues, 1900-2003.
f. Yearbooks, 1893-2015.
g. Student newspaper ("Friends' Central News" and "Focus"), 1932-2009.
h. Student magazine ("Blue and Gray"), 1892-1948.
i. Literary magazines, including " Queer Words," 1958-2014.
j. "Forum" educational journal, 1988-2014.
k. Commencement programs, early 20th century-2013.
l. Brochures for school's 75th anniversary, auxiliary services, and Summer Day Camp.
m. School calendars.
n. Press clippings on Friends' Central and students, faculty, and staff.

a. Slides of "Echo Hill" class trip, drama productions, and other topics.
b. VHS tapes of drama production, soccer games, and other footage.
c. Audiocassette tapes, mostly interviews.
d. DVDs.
e. CDs of reunion pictures.
f. Film reels of sports games (soccer and other), commencement, field day, other and unidentified.
g. Film negatives and contact sheets.

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