Held at: Archives of the Associated Alumni of the Central High School of Philadelphia [Contact Us]1700 W Olney Ave, Philadelphia, PA, 19141
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Archives of the Associated Alumni of the Central High School of Philadelphia. 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
The Central High School of Philadelphia is the second oldest continuously public high school in the United States. Chartered in 1836, its first building, located at Juniper and Market streets in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, opened its doors in 1838. The school changed buildings three times since then - in 1854, 1900, and 1939. From 1939 to the present Central has been located in its fourth building at the corner of Ogontz and Olney avenues.
Central is known for its high academic standards. This tradition of academic excellence continues in the 21st century; when applying for admission to the school, students must meet various admissions requirements, which include maintaining a certain grade point average and achieving a high score on a city-wide standardized test.
Central High School was originally a boys-only school, from 1838 until the summer of 1983. After a federal court ruling, six girls were admitted in September of 1983. As of 2015, more than half of the student body is female.
Central counts among its graduates several notable alumni including noted art collector and founder of the Barnes Foundation, Albert C. Barnes; artists Thomas Eakins and William Glackens; linguist and political activist, Noam Chomsky; comedian and member of The Three Stooges troupe, Larry Fine; writer, philosopher, educator, and patron of the arts Alain Locke; and several others who went on to become noted politicians, entertainers, authors, musicians, athletes, scientists, business executives, and philanthropists.
The first alumni organization for Central High School was established in 1842, with the school's first graduating class. In 1873, this group was formally reorganized as the Associated Alumni of the Central High School of Philadelphia. The Associated Alumni's mission is "to encourage and support the School's high standards of scholarship, integrity and democratic values, to facilitate and maintain pride in Central High School and, as well, to encourage an impact upon community growth through financial and personal involvement, while broadening social and professional relationships among its alumni." The Associated Alumni support the various activities of the magnet school through financial donations, volunteering and maintaining a presence at school events, providing networking opportunities for students, involvement with recruitment, advising student groups, and other activities.
Quoted text from: The Associated Alumni of the Central High School of Philadelphia. "Our Mission." Accessed January 29, 2015. http://centralhighalumni.com/about/mission/.
The Associated Alumni of the Central High School of Philadelphia. "The Work of AACHS." Accessed January 29, 2015. http://centralhighalumni.com/about/the-work-of-aachs/.
Central High School. "About CHS." Accessed January 23, 2015. http://www.centralhigh.net/pages/CentralHigh/Main_Menu/School_Info/About_CHS.
This collection consists of subject files on alumni, faculty members, distinguished faculty, graduating classes, and other subjects associated with Central High School. Although there are a range of document types in the collection spanning from 1818 to 2014, the majority of the collection is printed materials, photocopies, and other secondary-source materials dating from the late 19th, 20th, and early 21st centuries.
A large portion of the collection is organized into subject files, covering school programs and clubs, academic departments, events, and various other topics. These files contain a mix of records from and materials relating to Central High School, the Associated Alumni of the Central High School of Philadelphia, and individual alumni. Document types in the subject files include published materials, newspaper clippings, some original correspondence and other primary-source materials, and a few photographs and film negatives. A portion of the subject files includes past presidents' files, which consist of office files, newspaper clippings, correspondence, materials relating to school policies, various school publications, and other materials relating to the president or the school. The files of recent former president Sheldon Pavel are unprocessed.
Another large portion of the collection is class files, organized by class number beginning with class number 1 (graduated in 1842) and continuing until the present. The collection is stored in vertical files and in document boxes, and some classes have materials in both locations. Document types include newspaper clippings, obituaries, correspondence, event invitations and other ephemera, some published items, scrapbook pages, class reunion minutes and invitations, planning materials for reunion events, and other materials. Some class files have yearbooks, but most materials are related to alumni events. The amount of information varies widely by class; some of the class files have little or no materials in them.
Smaller amounts of materials are organized into files on faculty, distinguished visitors, and specific alumni, organized alphabetically. These files contain photographs, newspaper clippings, photocopies of primary and secondary-source materials about individuals in the files, published materials, and various other items.
Of particular interest in this collection, and not sorted among the files, is a minute book of the Board of Public Education of the First School District of Pennsylvania, 1818-1823. The First School District of Pennsylvania was created in 1818 by the state legislature and was comprised of Philadelphia County. Other items of interest include a file with materials relating to Central alum Arthur Tracy, who was a nationally known entertainer nicknamed "The Street Singer"; a file on the lawsuit that resulted in Central becoming a co-ed school in 1983; letters from Margaret Mead, Robert Kennedy, and John Wanamaker; letters from Louis Weichmann, who attended Central from 1856 to 1858, related to his testimony as a witness for the prosecution in the trial of conspirators involved with the assassination of United States President Abraham Lincoln; and photographs of United States President Theodore Roosevelt from when he addressed the students of Central at the dedication ceremony for the school's third building in 1902. A partial folder listing is available on-site.
Materials donated to, collected by, or created by the Associated Alumni of the Central High School of Philadelphia over time.
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 Archives of the Associated Alumni of the Central High School of Philadelphia directly for more information.
- Central High School (Philadelphia, Pa.)
- The Associated Alumni of the Central High School of Philadelphia
- Alumni and alumnae
- High school student activities
- High schools
- High schools--Alumni and alumnae
- Magnet schools
- Archives of the Associated Alumni of the Central High School of Philadelphia
- 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 Archives of the Associated Alumni of the Central High School of Philadelphia for information about accessing this collection.