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The collection includes a variety of school records from the 1790s to the present relating to the founding and operation of Westtown School. This includes minutes of the Board of Trustees (formerly General Committee) and faculty meetings as well as a myriad of other groups and committees; financial ledgers and journals; correspondence and other communications; ephemera such as programs for recitals and theatrical productions, and a wide assortment of publications including curriculum catalogs, directories, yearbooks, etc. Collection of these records is ongoing. School records are generally arranged by office of origin. The archives staff also has care of the permanent files of deceased alumni of the school.
The archives holds a large collection of correspondence between students and their parents, particularly during the 19th century; diaries and journals of students and teachers; students’ exercise books demonstrating the range of subjects and methods of study at Westtown; and family and personal papers relating to some Westtown alumni. Of special note are the papers of long-time faculty members including Albert L. Baily, Jr. (1890-1974), Thomas Shipley Brown (1912-2011), John Bernard Haviland (1915-2004) and Caroline Nicholson Jacobs (1891-1991).
The photograph collection dates from circa 1865 to the present and includes prints, glass negatives, magic lantern slides, movie film, slides, videotapes, CDs, DVDs, and digital images. Together, these images (which number in the tens of thousands) provide visual documentation of students, faculty and other community members in all phases of school life. The collection includes recordings of select school gatherings, speeches, presentations, recitals and school productions; and oral history interviews conducted primarily by students.
This collection includes 18th century watercolor maps of the land purchased and improved for Westtown; early 19th century watercolor maps of same drawn in class by students; and other 19th and 20th century maps of the school grounds. Also present are maps denoting plantings in various parts of campus including the arboretum; soil surveys and topographical maps. A number of architectural drawings are extant for buildings on campus, representing the work of several important Philadelphia area architects including Addison Hutton (1834-1916), Walter F. Price (1857-1951), Walter Smedley (1862-1939), William Macy Stanton (1888-1969), Paul M. Cope (1921-2006), and H. Mather Lippincott (b. 1921). Of note in the collection are 4 drawings (1880s) by architect Addison Hutton for Westtown’s current main building, plus 2 elevations of a Boiler House and Laundry constructed at the same time.
The rare book collection numbers over 1,000 volumes and is comprised of books acquired by purchase or donation since the origin of the school library in the very early 19th century. Many are on the lives, practice and faith of Quakers; others reflect an emphasis on the natural sciences and other subjects in the early curriculum.
The archives holds full runs of most school publications including The Westonian (alumni magazine) begin in 1895; the student newspaper, The Brown and White; the yearbook, Amicus; directories, catalogs, student literary magazines, and other similar items. The Brown and White (through 1999) has been digitized and is available through the school intranet and to alumni.
This collection includes pewter pieces used in the dining room at the school’s opening, microscopes from the classroom, glass milk bottles from the school’s dairy farm, miniature sled models and assorted sports equipment. Of special note is the school’s collection of Flexible Flyers, the sled patented by former Westtown student, Samuel L. Allen (1841-1918). The archives also holds half of the coil that inspired the invention of the Slinky® by Richard T. James, Westtown class of 1935.
The textile collection includes over 150 flat samplers plus nine needlework globes, many made by female students during the early years of the school. The samplers are an important group of early American needlework.The textile collection contains other pieces of student handwork, along with a large variety of Quaker clothing items.
The archives has care of the school’s collection of paintings and fine arts objects. The collection includes The Giant by N. C Wyeth; an oil painting by his daughter, Henriette Wyeth Hurd; a painting by Violet Oakley (1874-1961); many works by George G. Whitney (1891-1979), Westtown’s first director of fine arts (and friend and colleague of N. C Wyeth); and several by S. Warren Krebs (d. 2005), Westtown faculty.
The furniture collection includes a variety of pieces such as desks, tables and chairs that have been in use at the school, some since the early 19th century. Also present in the school are nine tall case clocks, including one with works made circa 1812 by Peter Hill, a formerly enslaved person in New Jersey.