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Records of the Oberlin Kindergarten and Primary-Training School (Group 24)
[33] Records of the Oberlin Kindergarten and Primary-Training School, 1894-1933, 9 ft. 3 in.

Historical Note

Aided by Nancy Squire of the Mutual Benefit Association, 13 women organized themselves to establish a kindergarten-teacher training school in 1894. At a public meeting, a committee known as the Oberlin Kindergarten Association (OKA) was appointed to secure funds and to develop a kindergarten and a teacher training school. This goal was achieved within a year by creating two kindergartens and by naming Beade Goodman principal. Students of the training school were interns in the two Oberlin kindergartens and in neighboring school districts. Graduates of the training school taught in many states, as well as in foreign countries. By 1933, when the last class graduated, graduates numbered over a thousand. Although the Oberlin Kindergarten Training School (OKTS) still drew large numbers of students, changing state standards in kindergarten and primary education forced a merger with Oberlin College. These new state regulations required the training school to become a four-year school in order to remain a separate institution. Instead, the OKTS board decided to merge the school with Oberlin College. The Alumni Association of Oberlin College voted to extend membership to the graduates and former students of the OKTS.

Scope and Content

The collection, which is divided in seven records series, documents advancements in the training of kindergarten and primary-school teachers during the late 19th century and the first quarter of the 20th century. The details of the creation and maturation of the kindergarten and primary schools are in the minutes of the Oberlin Kindergarten Association, 1894-1932. Financial records exist for the years 1900 to 1932. Among the reports, 1899-1916, is one to the president of the association stating the status of graduates and discussing the problems facing the OKTS and kindergarten-teacher training in the United States. Three reviews written about the training school during the 1920s are in the files. There are also compiled lists of presidents of the OKA, 1894-1914, and a list of training-school graduates, 1896-1933. Although the files typically concern the graduates of the OKTS, 1896-1933, the collection also contains several manuscripts of Clara May (1872-1957), an 1894 graduate of Oberlin College who became principal of the OKTS. May translated G. Sergi’s “Some Ideas on Education” from Nuova Antologia, and she wrote “The Montessori System” and bibliography, 1916. Also included are documents covering Clara May’s teaching methods and her correspondence with Helen H. Parkhurst (d. 1959), the United States Montessori supervisor.

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