Historic Pelham

Presenting the rich history of Pelham, NY in Westchester County: current historical research, descriptions of how to research Pelham history online and genealogy discussions of Pelham families.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The "Industrial School at Pelham" Hosted by Christ Church in 1884


Recently I ran across a puzzling reference to a 19th Century "school" in Pelham of which I had never heard.  The reference was:  

"The industrial school at Pelham bids fair to be a success, and the boys and girls of that vicinity will have an opportunity to learn something to help themselves during the coming winter."

Source:  PELHAM AND CITY ISLAND, New Rochelle Pioneer Supplement, Vol. XXV, No. ?, Jul. 19, 1884, p. 4, col. 6.  

After a little sleuthing, I have shed a little light on the mystery.  In 1884, Mrs. C. Oliver Iselin sponsored an educational program in Pelham known as the "Home Garden School."  The program used a "trained teacher from New York City" who taught a large class of young girls every Saturday afternoon "in the details of household work."  The program was referenced as a "good work in industrial education."  Much later such programs came to be known as "home economics" classes.

With the blessing and cooperation of Reverend Charles Higbee, the Rector of Christ Church at the time, the Home Garden School met in the Sunday School room of Christ Church.  Each student was furnished with a textbook and a "set of miniature household and kitchen furniture."  The young women were taught through "actual manipulation" of the miniature furniture "how to set table, make beds, build fires and such domestic operations in the most approved and scientific manner."  



Christ Church, Pelham Manor.
Source:  Bolton, Jr., Robert, A History of the County of Westchester From
Its First Settlement to the Present Time, Vol. I, p. 513 (NY, NY:  Alexander S. Gould, 1848).

The program was intended to encourage churches to "supplement the public schools in furnishing this kind of practical teaching, so important to the children of the community."

A brief article about the Home Garden School appeared in the February 9, 1884 issue of the New Rochelle Pioneer.  It read as follows:

"Industrial Education.

A good work in industrial education is doing at Christ Church, Pelham.  A large class of young girls are taught each Saturday afternoon by a trained teacher from New York in the details of household work, in a very thorough and effective way.  Each child is furnished with a text book and a set of miniature household and kitchen furniture, and is taught by actual manipulation how to set table, make beds, build fires and such domestic operations  in the most approved and scientific manner.  The pupils enjoy their work and make rapid progress, their pleasure being heightened by the mingling of appropriate songs with their work -- songs in which their instruction is contained in rhythmical form, the whole is fastened indelibly upon the memory by these attractive means.  Let the churches supplement the public schools in furnishing this kind of practical teaching, so important to the children of the community.  The children in Pelham are indebted to the kindness of Mrs. C. Oliver Iselin, for the privileges of the Home Garden School of that philanthropic lady.  The rector of the church, Mr. Higbee, invites any who are interested in this good work to visit the class in the Sunday School room., Saturday afternoon at half past three o'clock, and hopes that like instructions may be given by all the churches."  

Source:  Industrial Education, New Rochelle Pioneer, Vol. XXIV, No. 46, Feb. 9, 1884, p. 3, col. 6. 


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