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, April 16, 2015

The Pelham College Fund: Important During the Great Depression

In 1929, on the very eve of the onset of the Great Depression, a group of public-spirited men in the Town of Pelham created "The Pelham College Fund."  The purpose of the fund was to identify Pelham Memorial High School graduates who needed financial aid in order to pay for college.  The fund awarded ten-year loans without interest to fund a college education.

As the Great Depression worsened, the need for The Pelham College Fund grew.  By 1935 six young men and seven young women were benefiting from the fund and, according to one account, none of them would have been able to enter college without aid.  

The fund was administered by a committee with the Superintendent of Schools serving as "Advisory Head" of the Committee.  Students in need of financial aid submitted applications to the Committee which gave a preference to "students with outstanding records of achievement."  Although the intent was to raise the funds necessary to make The Pelham College Fund self-sustaining, that never occurred.  Instead, for much of the Great Depression, the local P.T.A. and other interested Pelham citizens raised the funds necessary to permit the loans to the needy students to enable them to attend college.

Pelham supported The Pelham College Fund through the entire Great Depression and World War II.  

Undated Post Card View of Pelham Memorial High School, Ca. 1938.

The creation of The Pelham College Fund seems to been prompted, at least in part, by the success of "The Students' College Fund of the Mount Vernon High School" created in May, 1923.  The goal of the fund was to raise $15,000 to allow interest earned on the fund to be gifted to needy high school students to help fund their college.  No repayment was required, but later contributions to the fund once a student was able were encouraged.  By 1926, the fund had raised $13,545, was disbursing $605 per year in assistance and was helping six students at the time.  See HIGH SCHOOL'S COLLEGE FUND NOW $13,545, The Daily Argus [Mount Vernon, NY], Jun. 4, 1926, p. 6, col. 4.  

In 1945, school authorities decided to rename the Pelham College Fund as the Joseph C. Brown Student Fund in memorial to the late Superintendent of Schools, Joseph C. Brown.  That year the fund raised $3,127.26 to assist "worthy students continue their education after graduation from Pelham Memorial High School."  Additionally, in 1945, the Pelham Teachers Association joined the P.T.A. in sponsoring the fund.  See Mrs. J. B. Kellock Elected Head of P.T.A. of P.T.A. For 1945-6, The Pelham Sun, May 10, 1945, p. 1, col. 3.  

Thereafter, the Joseph C. Brown Student Fund continued its mission, demonstrating the dedication and leadership of the Pelham Teachers Association and the Pelham P.T.A. in efforts to ensure that graduating Pelham Memorial High School students who wished to attend college would be able to attend.  Those efforts have continued, in a variety of ways, to this day.

Below are transcriptions to a few of the many, many articles that deal with the Pelham College Fund.  Each is followed by a citation and link to its source.

"Dental Clinic and Scholarship Fund To Benefit By P.T.A. Bridge Parties
Groups in All Schools Will Hold Benefit Social Functions on Monday, February 4th to Aid Worthy Projects.

The annual P.T.A. bridge parties will be held in all the Elementary Schools of the Pelhams, Hutchinson, Colonial, Siwanoy and Prospect Hill, on Monday afternoon, February 4th, at 2:00 o'clock for the benefit of the Free Dental Clinic and Scholarship Fund of the Parent-Teacher Association of Pelham.  Part of the funds raised will be used to defray the expenses of the Dental Clinic in the Junior and Senior High Schools and the Elementary Schools and the Elementary Schools.  The schools provide a part-time dental hygienist who only does prophylactic work, but the Dental Clinic is to care for the many cases which the dental examination indicate need immediate attention.  These cases are those for which full payment cannot be made by parents.

The Pelham College Fund was established six years ago by a public spirited group of men, its object being to loan money to worthy Pelham High School graduates who require financial aid for a college education.  It is a ten-year loan without interest.  Six boys and seven girls are benefiting from the fund at the present time, making splendid college records.  All of these students wouldd have been unable to enter college without aid.  A committee, with Superintendent of Schools Joseph C. Brown as Advisory Head, passes upon the applicants, and the students with outstanding records of achievement are given preference.  In a short time the fund should be self-sustaining, but for the present it needs help from the P.T.A., as well as from the few private contributors who have given so liberally in the past.  The financial depression has made the Pelham College Fund a most necessary cause for the people of Pelham to sponsor.

Tickets for the parties are being sold through the class mothers of the four schools.

Mrs. Forrest M. Anderson, chairman of the P.T.A. Ways and Means Committee is acting as General Chairman.  Assisting her the following committees are making arrangements:

Hutchinson School:  Chairman, Mrs. J. A. Wotman; Tickets, Mrs. J. T. Kiley; Refreshments, Mrs. Orlin Oatman; Tables, Mrs. Wotman; Donations, Mrs. John Kruse; Candy, Mrs. William Zarnfeller.

Colonial School:  Chairman, Mrs. L. H. Amy; Tickets, Mrs. Weston Roberts.

Siwanoy School:  Chairman, Mrs. Robert Drummond; Tickets, Mrs. Lester Schmidt; Refreshments, Mrs. F. M. Dutch; Tables, Mrs. Branch Kerfoot; Donation, Mrs. Stanley Kempner; Candy, Mrs. John Campbell.

Prospect Hill:  Chairman, Mrs. Walter Schmidt; Tickets, Mrs. Robert E. Gill; Refreshments, Mrs. A. N. Hutchinson and Mrs. Arthur Retallick; Donations, Mrs. Walter Schmidt; Mrs. Arthur V. Zerbey is assisting the General Chairman in her many duties.  

The High School Benefit Bridge Party for this work will be held on Monday evening, March 25th, at 8:00 o'clock in the High School gymnasium.  Everyone in Pelham is urged to attend one or both of these delightful parties and aid in this worthy work."

Source:  Dental Clinic and Scholarship Fund To Benefit By P.T.A. Bridge Parties, The Pelham Sun, Jan. 25, 1935, p. 6, cols. 4-6.


At a special executive meeting of the Pelham Parent-Teacher Association held yesterday afternoon in the High School a resolution was unanimously adopted whereby the name of the Pelham College Fund administered by the organization is changed to the Joseph C. Brown Student Fund, a memorial to the late superintendent of schools."

Source:  P. T. A. NAMES SCHOLARSHIP FUND FOR JOSEPH C. BROWN, The Pelham Sun, Mar. 15, 1945, Vol. 35, No. 48, p. 1, col. 4.  

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