Archival Adventures in Small Repositories
Esther Duke Archives at Westtown School
Westtown School in Westtown Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania is the oldest continuously operating coeducational boarding school in the United States. It was founded by the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in 1799 with the goal of educating Quaker children in an environment that fostered moral development consistent with their religious ideals. The Esther Duke Archives at Westtown School, named in honor of Westtown alumna Esther Duke (1920-2005), contains over 650 linear feet of archival materials that date from 1682 to the present. Westtown school records make up the vast majority of the Archives' holdings, measuring approximately 600 linear feet. The Archives holds significant correspondence from the 19th century between students and families, as well as smaller collections from various alumni, teachers, and other individuals associated with Westtown, documenting teaching careers, school experiences, and lives spent beyond the school. Because of Westtown's strong Quaker heritage, the Archives is a resource for Quaker history as well as the history of education and related topics.