The school archives holds a wide variety of material documenting the history of Westtown – both the people and the programs – from the school’s founding in 1799 to the present. School records, manuscripts, photographs, publications, rare books, maps, plans, and artifacts (including textiles such as needlework samplers and embroidered globes) are housed in the archives, which is adjacent to the library in the Main Building. Faculty in varying disciplines incorporate use of these primary source materials into the curriculum so that the collection is used by – and for – students in all three divisions. The collection is also open to the public.
In 2005, the archives was formally named the Esther Duke Archives in honor of Esther Duke (1920-2005), a 1938 graduate of Westtown, whose time, talent, and treasure contributed greatly to the preservation of Westtown’s history.
The archives gladly accepts material in keeping with its collection policy – material that relates to the history of Westtown School, its people and programs. Items accepted for donation must have a direct connection to Westtown School and will expand or enhance the historical collection. The archives does not accept items that duplicate holdings in the collection, things with no enduring historical or other value, or items whose condition would require extensive resources to preserve. Please contact the archivist if you have something for donation.
The archives is generally open Monday through Thursday 8:30 am – 4:30 pm and Friday 12:00 pm to 4:00 pm on days when school is in session. The archives remains open during the summer on a reduced schedule. Throughout the year, visitors are encouraged to make an appointment to be sure that someone will be available to assist them.
News from the Archives
Threads of Useful Learning: Westtown School Samplers, authored by Westtown School archivist Mary Uhl Brooks, is a thorough and engaging look at the needlework produced by Westtown students from 1799 until 1843 as part of the useful education and spiritual formation envisioned by the Quakers for their children. Fully illustrated with images of samplers and embroidered globes in Westtown School’s own extensive textile collection as well as others in museums and private collections, the book discusses this important schoolgirl needlework and the education, religious beliefs, and lives of the teachers and girls who created it. The book is available in the school store and can be ordered online.