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.

Friday, April 07, 2017

The Twentieth Annual Commencement of Mrs. Hazen's School for Girls Held on June 2, 1909

In 1889, Emily Hall Hazen who had taught at the Masters School in Dobbs Ferry, New York, opened a private girls' school in Pelham Manor.  It almost immediately became one of the finest girls’ schools in the country.  The school closed twenty-five years later at the end of the 1914-1915 school year. 

Officially named "Pelham Hall," the school was known far and wide as "Mrs. Hazen's School for Girls."  By the time the school reached its final academic year, it had served over a thousand students from forty-two States and over two hundred and fifty towns and cities throughout the country.  

I have written about Mrs. Hazen's School for Girls on many occasions.  I have included a list of links to numerous such articles at the end of today's posting.  

The year 1909 was a special year for Pelham Hall.  On Wednesday, June 2, 1909, Mrs. Hazen's School for Girls held its twentieth annual commencement ceremony.  The ceremony was held in a large auditorium in "Edgewood House," one of the three school buildings on the campus, a large gray building that faced Edgewood Avenue that was built by Benjamin Corlies and was leased to the school.  The other two buildings, also built by Corlies and leased to the school, faced Esplanade and were known as "Chester House" and "Marbury House."

1906 Post Card View of the Pelham Hall Complex, Showing
Chester Hall on the Left, Edgewood House in the Center and
Marbury House on the Right.  NOTE:  Click on Image to Enlarge.

Source: Double-Page Map on Plate 22 in Fairchild, John F.,
Atlas of the City of Mount of Vernon and the Town of Pelham.
Compiled from Official Records, Personal Surveys and Other
Private Plans and Surveys. 1899. Compiled and published by
John F. Fairchild. Civil Engineer and Surveyor. Rooms, 10-11
Bank Buliding, Mount Vernon, N.Y. (1899) (Lionel Pincus and
Princess Firyal Map Division, The New York Public Library).
NOTE: Click on Image to Enlarge.

"Edgewood House" Built Facing Today's Edgewood Avenue
(with Rear Toward the Esplanade).  Edgewood House, Which
No Longer Stands, is the Pelham Hall Building that Included
an Auditorium in Which the 1909 Graduation Exercises Were
Held.  NOTE:  Click on Image to Enlarge.

Ten young women graduated from Pelham Hall that late spring day.  Because it was the twentieth annual commencement exercise, former graduates of the school came "from all parts of the United States" to attend the ceremony and various events that were held during commencement week.  Although it rained heavily throughout the morning, attendance at the ceremony was "good."  

Commencement ceremonies had been held in the large auditorium of Edgewood House since that building was constructed on the campus in 1894.  As was the annual custom, the auditorium was decked with evergreen boughs.  Evergreens carried important symbolic significance.  Because they stay green through the winter, they symbolized such qualities as strength, revitalization, invincibility, determination, and stoicism -- a perfect symbol for a high school graduation celebration.

Seated on the platform during the ceremony that day were:  (1) Mrs. Emily Hall Hazen, founder and headmistress of Pelham Hall; (2) "Miss McKay" and "Miss Tracy," the two Associate Principals of the school; (3) Rev. Lewis Gaston, pastor of Huguenot Memorial Presbyterian Church, located nearly across the street from the school; (4) Rev. Herbert Haight Brown, pastor of the Church of the Redeemer in the Village of North Pelham; and (5) keynote speaker Dr. Edward Howard Griggs. 

Dr. Edward Howard Griggs (1868-1951) was a noted historian, lecturer, author, and inspirational speaker of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.  He compiled and published dozens of biographies as well as social and moral critiques of history's greatest thinkers, philosophers, religious figures, and humanists.  Later in his career, during the 1930s, Griggs became known for a regular radio program broadcast nationally known as the "Lives of Great Men Program."  

Undated Photograph of Edward Howard Griggs.
NOTE:  Click on Image to Enlarge.

In 1904, only a few years before he was the keynote speaker at the 1909 commencement ceremony at Pelham Hall, Griggs published an influential book entitled "Moral Education" that undoubtedly was one of the principle reasons he was invited to speak to the graduating class of Pelham Hall that day.  See Griggs, Edward Howard, Moral Education (NY, NY:  B. W. Huebsch, 1904).  According to one reviewer of the work:

"The first seven chapters deal with fundamental principles of education, laying the foundation in the nature of the child.  Here Mr. Griggs follows closely the methods and results of the child-study movement; and his treatment culminates in the consideration of the type of character to be fostered by moral education, which is described as 'a strong and effective moral personality, reverently obedient to the laws of life and controlled by clear-sighted reason; seeing, loving, and willing the best on the plane of life that has been reached, strong in moral initiation, and able to grow independently ever toward the loftier vision and nobler action' (p. 66).  In connection with this ideal of character, it will be well to cite the author's conception of a moral life, which is that of 'happy and helpful living':  and this is to be attained, on the whole, by the kind of culture which initiates one into the best life of the race, but which tends to strengthen the individual to independent living in all the ranges of thought and conduct."

Source:  Sprague, Leslie Willis, "MORAL EDUCATION.  By Edward Howard Griggs, Author of 'The New Humanism,'" in International Journal of Ethics, Vol. 15, No. 3, April 1905, pp. 379-81 (Chicago, IL:  University of Chicago Press, 1905).

All students of Mrs. Hazen's School for Girls attended the commencement ceremony that day.  During a processional hymn sung by the attendees, the non-graduating students marched into the auditorium to their seats, then waited as the ten graduating students marched in dressed in white graduation gowns and white graduation caps.

At the conclusion of the hymn, attendees were seated and Mrs. Hazen spoke.  Her brief remarks focused on the fact that those in attendance were part of the twentieth annual commencement ceremony at Pelham Hall.  Following Emily Hazen's remarks, Associate Principal Tracy delivered an annual report on the school and its students.

Following the annual report, the students sang songs for the crowd.  Thereafter, academic awards and prizes were given to the students.  Six of the graduating seniors received awards:

Helen Audry Almy - Abbe Hageman Hall Memorial Prizes in United States History, Second Prize
Katherine Lea Donald - Corlies Literary Prize
Frances Emily Gwyer - Robert C. Black Recreation Prize
Gladys Shafer - Houghton Scholastic Prize
Mary Arnold Swoope - Abbe Hageman Hall Memorial Prizes in United States History, First Prize
Georgie Derrick Temple - Edith Hazen Tiers Honor Prize

Ten other students who were not graduating 

Mabel Marie Damon - Intermediate First Prize 
Marie Madeline Doelger - A Testimonial
Winifred Mary Margaret Heath - A Testimonial 
Helen Rogers - A Testimonial
Anne Hubbell Seymour - Primary Second Prize
Aline Katherine Tiedemann - Primary First Prize
Helen Dorothy Tiedemann - Intermediate Second Prize
Gertrude Schultz Watson - Hatch Medal
Alys Sinclair - Hazen Medal
Agnes Winston - A Testimonial

In addition, because Associate Principal McKay was retiring after serving at Pelham Hall for eleven years, the students of the school presented her with "a beautiful silver cup."  After the presentation, the attendees sang The Star Spangled Banner.

After the singing of the Star Spangled Banner, Edward Howard Griggs delivered an "interesting address."  Research has not revealed any record of the substance of the address by Dr. Griggs that day.  

At the conclusion of the keynote address by Dr. Griggs, Pelham Hall students sang "Alma Mater."  The ceremony closed with a prayer by Reverend Leary, the singing of the Doxology, and a benediction by Rev. Brown.   

Indeed, today's students of Pelham Memorial High School would recognize the commencement ceremony -- indeed, it would seem familiar today -- though it was celebrated nearly 108 years ago by the students of Pelham Hall, Mrs. Hazen's School for Girls.    

*          *          *          *          *

Commencement Exercises Hold Attention.

Pelham Manor, June 3.  --  The twentieth annual commencement exercises of Mrs. Hazen's school, Pelham Manor was held in Pelham hall yesterday morning.  In view of the fact that it was twenty years ago since the school was founded, many of the former graduates came from all parts of the United States to be present at the various events which take place during commencement week.  

Notwithstanding the rain, the attendance was good.  The interior of Pelham hall presented a scene of unusual beauty with its decorations of green boughs, while in the rear of the platform was the word 'Pelham Hall' in white letters on a green background.  Seated on the platform were Mrs. Hazen, Miss McKay and Miss Tracy, associate principals, the speaker of the day and the well known writer, Edward Howard Griggs; Rev. Lewis Gaston Leary, Ph. D., pastor of the Pelham Manor Presbyterian Church, and the Rev. H. H. Brown, rector of the Church of the Redeemer, in North Pelham.

The exercises opened with the processional hymn, during the singing of which the scholars marched to their seats in the hall, followed by the graduates, attired in white gowns and white caps.  

At the conclusion of the hymn, Mrs. Hazen made a few remarks, in which she called attention to the fact that it was twenty years ago that the school was established.

After the annual report of the department work had been read by Miss Tracy and singing by the school, the awards of prizes, testimonials and diplomas took place, as follows:  Abbe Hageman Hall memorial prizes in United States history, first, Miss Mary Arnold Swoope second prize, Miss Helen Audry Almy; Corlies literary prize, Miss Katherine Lea Donald; Houghton scholastic prize, given by two sisters who succeeded each other in the school as graduates who wished to perpetuate their name for all around scholarship, Miss Gladys Shafer; Robert C. Black recreation prize, Miss Frances Emily Gwyer; Edith Hazen Tiers honor prize, Miss Georgie Derrick Temple; intermediate first prize, Mabel Marie Damon; intermediate second prize, Helen Dorothy Tiedemann; Hatch medal, Gertrude Schultz Watson; primary first prize, Aline Katherine Tiedemann; primary second prize, Anne Hubbell Seymour; Hazen medal, Alys Sinclair.

Miss McKay, who retired as associate principal after being in the school eleven years was the recipient of a beautiful silver cup from the pupils.

Testimonials were awarded to Miss Marie Madeline Doelger, Miss Winifred Mary Margaret Heath, Miss Helen Rogers and Miss Agnes Winston.

The following were the graduates:  Margaret Adams, Helen Audry Almy, Katherine Lea Donald, Frances Emily Gwyer, Marion Winston Hoyle, Helen E. Williams Hyde, Gladys Shafer, Minnie Carlotto Splane, Mary Arnold Swoope, Georgie Derrick Temple.  As each graduate stepped to the front of the platform when her name was called Mrs. Hazen made brief remarks about the young lady's attainments during her school course.

After the singing of the Star Spangled Banner, Mr. Griggs delivered an interesting address.

The exercises were brought to a close with the singing of 'Alma Mater' by the school, prayer by the Rev. Lewis Gaston Leary, Ph. D., while the benediction was pronounced by the Rev. H. H. Brown after the doxology was sung."

Source:  AT THE HAZEN SCHOOL -- Commencement Exercises Hold Attention, New Rochelle Pioneer, Jun. 12, 1909, Vol. 51, No. 11, p. 2, col. 4.  

*          *          *          *          *

I have written extensively about the private school known as "Pelham Hall" and "Mrs. Hazen's School for Girls."  For a few of the many examples, see:

Bell, Blake A., Mrs. Hazen's School for Girls: Pelham Hall, The Pelham Weekly, Vol. XIII, No. 40, Oct. 8, 2004, p. 12, col. 1.

Wed., Dec. 30, 2015:  Interesting Account of 1894 Graduation Exercises Conducted by Mrs. Hazen's School for Girls in Pelham Manor.

Wed., Mar. 18, 2015:  Account of Women's Cricket Match Played by Pelham Manor Women in 1898.

Tue., Feb. 03, 2015:  1907 Commencement Exercises at Mrs. Hazen's School for Girls in Pelham Manor.

Mon., Feb. 02, 2015:  The Three Houses of Mrs. Hazen's School for Girls in the Late 19th Century.

Tue., Nov. 25, 2014:  Too Smart for Late 19th Century Scammers: Mrs. Hazen's School for Girls.

Tue., Mar. 11, 2014:  An Early History of Mrs. Hazen's School For Girls in Pelham Manor, Published in 1913.

Mon., Aug. 15, 2005:  952 Pelhamdale Served as a 19th Century School for Girls, Then a School for Boys. 

Fri., Oct. 14, 2005:  A Reunion of Alumnae of Mrs. Hazen's School for Girls

Tue., Aug. 22, 2006:  Early Advertisements for Mrs. Hazen's School for Girls in Pelham Manor.  

Wed., Sep. 6, 2006:  Pelham Hall Shelter, a "Refuge for Erring Girls", Founded by Alumnae of Mrs. Hazen's School for Girls in Pelham Manor.  

Thu., Jul. 12, 2007:  The Infamous Burglary of the Girls of Mrs. Hazen's School for Girls in Pelham Manor in 1905.  

Mon., Mar. 3, 2008:  1891 Advertisement May Reflect Summer Rental of One of the Dormitories of Mrs. Hazen's School for Girls.

Fri., Jul. 24, 2009:  Late 19th Century Photos of Students with Tennis Rackets at Mrs. Hazen's School for Girls in Pelham Manor.

Tue., Feb. 16, 2010:  Photograph of Only Known 19th Century Women's Baseball Team in Pelham, New York.

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