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Sue Neff collection of materials relating to Friedrich Fröbel, kindergarten and paper folding


Held at: University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts [Contact Us]3420 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6206

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts. 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

Sue Ellen Allardice Neff was born on October 25, 1938 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to William D. Allardice, Sr. and Edna Schwikart Allardice. The youngest of three children, Neff graduated from Perry High School, located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1955 and went on to earn a B.A. in art from Chatham College in 1959. Neff continued her studies at the University of Pittsburgh where she received her Master's degree in Education in 1972. She became an elementary school art teacher at South Side Elementary School in Hookstown, Pennsylvania. Upon retirement from teaching, Neff became education director of the Japan America Society of Pennsylvania. She was a member of The Fiber Arts Guild, The Nature Print Society, and Origami USA. She founded the Origami Club of Pittsburgh in 1988 and was active with several related groups in Pittsburgh, including the Sister-City "Saitama City Japan" Committee and the Japanese Print Club.

Neff passed away on December 9, 2020. She was survived by her husband, Sidney A. Neff, Jr., who she married in 1971.

Elementary art teacher Sue Neff's interest in the history of kindergarten and its founder, Friedrich Fröbel (1782-1852) is documented through the correspondence, newsletters, catalogs, articles, notes, books and wooden blocks found in this collection. Fröbel developed the Fröbelian principles, which focused on a child-centered approach to education. Neff was extremely interested in the activity of paper folding, which Frobel deemed an "occupation." Occupations were materials used to support children's play and included sand, shells, stones, sticks, clay and paper folding. Neff incorporated paper folding into her elementary art lessons during the 1970s and later in the Pittsburgh Origami club, which she founded in 1988. The collection includes examples and directions for various paper folding projects.

Of particular interest are two notebooks purchased by Neff that belonged to Mary Whitehill, who attended the Slippery Rock Normal School, 1893-1898. Whitehill prepared two notebooks for the course, Form Study, Drawing and Penmanship. These notebooks include paper folded models, which correspond to the figures in the course text, Paper Folding: Forms of Life, Beauty and Knowledge including Many New Forms for Primary and Grammar School Work in Folding and Cutting, especially in Geometrical Forms by Dr. Albert Elias Maltby. A copy of Maltby's text is included in the collection as well.

I. Research material II. Books

Gift of S.A. Neff, Jr., 2022

University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
Finding Aid Author
Kristine McGee
Finding Aid Date
2023 October 18
Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research use.

Use Restrictions

Copyright restrictions may exist. For most library holdings, the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania do not hold copyright. It is the responsibility of the requester to seek permission from the holder of the copyright to reproduce material from the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts.

Collection Inventory

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Conference of Origami in Education and Therapy: conference proceedings, 1991.
Box 1 Folder 1
Cooper Union Museum: Plane and Geometry and Fancy Figures exhibition, 1959.
Box 1 Folder 2
Fröbel, Friedrich: paper folding, 1985-2020.
Box 1 Folder 3
Fröbel, Friedrich: research material, 1958-1992.
Box 1 Folder 4
Fröbel, Friedrich: research material, 1979-1988.
Box 1 Folder 5
Fröbel, Friedrich: research material, 2016.
Box 1 Folder 6
The Froebel Foundation, 1983-1988.
Box 1 Folder 7
Kindergarten history, 2020.
Box 1 Folder 8
National Froebel Network, 2020.
Box 1 Folder 9
Origami Network of Pittsburgh, 1988, 2017-2019.
Box 1 Folder 10
Paper cutting, 2020.
Box 1 Folder 11
Paper folding: projects, 2004-2020.
Box 1 Folder 12
Slippery Rock Normal School: paper folding notebooks, 1998-1999.
Box 1 Folder 13
The Froebel gifts 23456 [wooden blocks], undated.
Box 2

Brosterman, Norman: Inventing kindergarten, 1952, 2011, 2016.
Box 3 Folder 1
Cline, Alberta: The American book of kindergarten painting, plays and home entertainment for our boys and girls, 1900.
Box 3 Folder 2
Fröbel, Friedrich: Mother-play and nursery songs, 1879.
Box 3 Folder 3
Fröbel, Friedrich, Michaelis, Emilie, Moore, Henry Keatley: Autobiography of Friedrich Fröbel, 1908.
Box 3 Folder 4
Gomme, Alice B.: Child's delight: children's singing games, 1896.
Box 3 Folder 5
Heiland, Helmut: Friedrich Fröbel, 1995.
Box 3 Folder 6
Klein, Woldemar: Japanische kinderspiele, 1954.
Box 3 Folder 7
Lister, David: Origami monographs, 1995.
Box 3 Folder 8
Maltby, Albert Elias: Paper folding: forms of life, beauty, and knowledge including many new forms for primary and grammar school work in folding and cutting, especially geometrical forms, 1894.
Box 3 Folder 9
Marenholtz-Bülow, Bertha von: How kindergarten came to America: Friedrich Fröbel's radical vision of early childhood education, 2007.
Box 3 Folder 10
Miller, Lida Brooks: The kindergarten or home and school culture, 1891.
Box 3 Folder 11
Shapiro, Michael Steven: Children's garden: the kindergarten movement from Fröbel to Dewey, 1983.
Box 3 Folder 12
Whitehill, Mary: Paper examples notebook, 1898.
Box 3 Folder 13
Whitehill, Mary: "Methods" notebook, circa 1898.
Box 3 Folder 14

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