RepositoryUniversity of Roehampton: Archives and Special Collections
Alt Ref NoFA
Creator NameFroebel Educational Institute; National Froebel Foundation; Records collectors Barbara Bampton, Jean Conran, Jane Read, Mary Saul, Peter Weston, Sylvia Young
TitleFroebel Archive of Childhood Studies Records
Extent80 linear metres; 391 boxes + 259 folders + 108 oversize items + 72 loose bound items + 23 tubes + 321 artefacts
DescriptionThe Froebel Archive of Childhood Studies Records begins with the founding of the Froebel Educational Institute and documents the lifespan of one of the earliest colleges to train teachers in the Froebelian method of early childhood education, and one of the first women’s colleges in the UK. This vast resource provides insight into the personalities of the Froebel Educational Institute’s principals and teachers, student life and achievement, the day-to-day running of a teacher training college in London, wartime measures during the Second World War, changes in educational policy in the UK throughout the 20th century, and the history of Roehampton locality. In addition to over ten-thousand photographs and over three-hundred artefacts, the collection contains a broad range of documents, including advertisements; annual reports; architectural plans, surveys and drawings; articles of association; audio-visual material; calendars; cash and analysis ledgers; catalogues; certificates; college registers; committee minutes; correspondence; dissertations; event programmes; event tickets; examination papers; examination reports; financial documents (i.e., bills and invoices, etc.); inspection reports; insurance records; invitations; lists of subscribers; newsletters; original illustrations, diagrams and maps created by students; pamphlets; press cuttings; property deeds; prospectuses; student circulars; student essays; student handwork; student notebooks; student registers; syllabuses; theses; and visitor books. The collection also contains a rich assortment of teaching and testing materials, including a complete set of Froebel’s Gifts and Occupations, Montessori apparatus and Sonnenschein’s arithmometer. Among the noteworthy people present in the collection are Friedrich Froebel (1782-1852); Henriette Schraeder-Breymann (1827–1899); Julia Salis Schwabe (1818-1896); Victoria, Dowager Empress Frederick and Queen of Prussia (1840-1901); Mary, Princess Royal and Countess of Harewood (1897-1965); Claude Montefiore (1858-1938); and Froebel Educational Institute’s first principals, Emilie Michaelis (1834-1904), Esther Lawrence (1862-1944), Eglantyne Mary Jebb (1889-1978) and Molly Brearley (1905-1994). Collection highlights include early examples of student coursework demonstrating outstanding powers of observation and artistic skill; a pricking by Friedrich Froebel and one of his prickers; a collection of pen and ink drawings by Rosalie Lulham for Violet G. Sheffield's book, "Introduction to Zoology through Nature Study" (London: MacMillan, 1930); lists of posts obtained by early students; a complete run of examination papers from 1891 to 1964; and almost thirty different student newsletters.
LanguageEnglish, German, French, Swedish, Latin, Greek
Administrative HistoryFriedrich Froebel (1782-1852) was a German educationalist who championed pre-school education. He invented the concept of kindergarten as well as the word “kindergarten”, and was responsible for the first training programmes for kindergarten teachers. Froebel’s first kindergarten opened in 1837 and was called the “Play and Activity Institute”. Its pedagogy centred around three ideas: 1) toys for sedentary creative play, called “gifts and occupations”, 2) games and dances for healthy activity, and 3) observing and nurturing plants in a garden for stimulating awareness of the natural world. Froebel believed that to achieve his full stature as a human being each person, from earliest childhood, should have a self-active relationship with other persons and the natural world. It followed that students training to be teachers should be in continuous contact with children, and so all Froebel colleges contained a demonstration school as an essential part of the community. Detailed observations of the natural world was a necessary and important part of their course. When Froebel's ideas spread to Britain, the “Froebel Society for the Promotion of the Kindergarten System” (commonly known as the “Froebel Society”) was founded in 1874 in London to organise the Froebelian movement in the UK. The “Froebel Educational Institute” (FEI), a non-denominational women’s college for the training of kindergarten teachers, was inaugurated on the 25th October 1892 through the initiative of Mrs Julia Salis Schwabe and the Froebel Society. On 20th September 1894, the College formally opened in Talgarth Road, West Kensington, and Madame Emilie Michaelis was appointed as the first Principal. The FEI's first demonstration school, Colet Gardens Demonstration School, opened in 1895, and was followed by the Challoner Street Practising School in 1899. In 1896 the Michaelis Guild alumni organisation was formed. In 1900 the FEI changed its name to the “Incorporated Froebel Educational Institute”, a registered company under the Board of Trade. In 1920 the FEI was recognised by the Board of Education, and the length of the training course was raised to three years – one year longer than non-Froebelian training colleges, because the Froebel training included more arts education and time spent in the study of nature, movement and dance. Esther Lawrence succeeded Emilie Michaelis as Principal in 1901. She remained in the post until 1931, overseeing the growth and development of the FEI into a residential college based at Roehampton. She was closely involved in the founding of two of the oldest nursery schools in London, the Michaelis Free Kindergarten in Notting Hill (founded in 1908, later the Notting Hill Nursery School) and the Somers Town Nursery School near St Pancras (1910). In 1921 the FEI purchased Grove House at Roehampton and moved the students there in 1922. Colet Gardens Demonstration School remained in Talgarth Road and expanded into the space vacated by FEI. The Grove House demonstration school opened in 1929 (it closed in 1939). Student numbers grew so rapidly that Templeton, a listed building in Priory Lane, Roehampton, was purchased in 1930. In 1938 the Froebel Society and the National Froebel Union – formed in 1887 and responsible for approving FEI’s syllabus, setting examinations and issuing Teacher’s Certificates – merged to form the National Froebel Foundation with the aim of promoting the Froebelian system and regulating the teaching of the system. A new principal, Eglantyne Mary Jebb, continued the policy of expansion and growth, overseeing major extensions to the Grove House property designed by Verner Rees. During the Second World War, the College was evacuated to Knebworth and Offley Place, Hertfordshire, while the demonstration school was moved to Little Gaddesdon nearby. When the War ended, the demonstration school moved to new premises at Ibstock Place in Roehampton. Offley Place was retained as a rural training centre until 1953. Eglantyne Mary Jebb retired as Principal in 1955 and was succeeded by Molly Brearley, who oversaw some major changes, not least the requirement in 1960 that all teachers take a three-year training course. The following year, Molly Brearley introduced the pioneering one-year Diploma in Education, the first offered in a college of education. More expansions to the Froebel Educational Institute took place under the direction of the firm Norman and Dawbarn, notably several halls of residence and the Olive Garnett Building. Molly Brearley retired in 1970. Further course developments included the introduction of the Postgraduate Certificate of Education in 1971, and a Master of Education degree in 1974. A joint project with Queen Mary Hospital came to fruition in 1989, when the Redford House Nursery was opened, once again providing a demonstration school on-site. Plans to form a union of south-west London’s four voluntary teacher-training colleges - Froebel, Whitelands, Southlands and Digby Stuart - began in the early 1970s. Acting as an academic unity, they began offering Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Humanities degrees, validated by the University of London, in 1974. The Roehampton Institute of Higher Education (RIHE) was formally incorporated in 1975, with each of the constituent colleges retaining its own corporate identity. The title “Roehampton Institute London” was subsequently adopted. Degrees were validated by the University of Surrey from 1985, and full university status was achieved in 2000, when the Roehampton Institute formally entered into federation with the University of Surrey and became known as the “University of Surrey, Roehampton”. In 2004 Roehampton was awarded independent university status to become “Roehampton University”, subsequently changing its name to the “University of Roehampton” in 2011. More information about the Froebel Educational Institute can be found on the University of Roehampton website: More information about the Froebel Trust can be found on their website: Administrative History written by Janine Stanford and Emily Gibson.
Custodial HistoryIn 1971 the National Froebel Foundation transferred a collection referred to as the “Froebel collection” to the Library of the Froebel Educational Institute when it closed its premises in Manchester Square, London. Described as “a fairly small collection of books, pamphlets and educational equipment”, it became the starting point of the Early Childhood Archive, the predecessor of the Froebel Archive of Childhood Studies. Established in 1977, the Early Childhood Archive was created by a team of four people from the National Froebel Foundation and the Manpower Services Commission, and focused on all aspects of early childhood education, relating to children up to seven years of age, from 1800 to the present day. It was created in response to a perceived need to create a specialist resource for the study of the history of early childhood education. In 1983 the first archivist was appointed. In 1998 the archive was re-named the “Froebel Archive for Childhood Studies” (FACS), and in 2006 responsibility for the management of the collection was transferred to Roehampton University. This catalogue describes the contents of the Froebel Archive of Childhood Studies Records. FACS also includes a vast collection of books and printed material (i.e., pamphlets and journals), referred to as the “Froebel Archive of Childhood Studies Special Collection”. Books and pamphlets from the Special Collection have been individually catalogued in the University of Roehampton's library catalogue. An active collecting programme began when the archive was established in 1977, resulting in many additions to FACS. Nurseries and nursery schools in London and elsewhere were visited, requests for material were printed in newspapers and journals, photographs of contemporary nursery schools were taken, and a survey was sent to organisations with a special interest in early childhood education. The letter accompanying the survey read as follows: “At this period of closures and changing functions of colleges, we are most anxious that no books, photographs, archives, or other materials should be jettisoned or stored away unrecorded. Since this college will continue to be a centre for early childhood education, we hope that anyone with material of relevance with contact us, so that we may either add it to the Archive, record its whereabouts, or take photocopies of relevant items” (1977). Material of particular interest included photographs; toys; books; teaching materials and apparatus; readers and text-books written for children; and student certificates, reminiscences, coursework, and correspondence. Large collections of books and pamphlets were donated by Mary Saul, long-time Librarian of Froebel Educational Institute, and Joachim Liebschner, Froebel scholar and National Froebel Foundation Trustee, and many other items were donated by lecturers, past principals and supporters of the Froebel Educational Institute.
Access StatusOpen
Access ConditionsOpen for research use
Publication NoteThe Froebel Educational Institute: A centenary review. (1992). Froebel Educational Institute. Read, J. (2000). The Dissemination of Friedrich Froebel's Kindergarten Ideology in Britain 1850-1900. München: K.G. Saur. Weston, P. (1998). From Roehampton Great House to Grove House to Froebel College: An illustrated history. London: Roehampton Institute. Weston, P. (2002). The Froebel Educational Institute: The origins and history of the college. London: University of Surrey Roehampton.
Related MaterialRelated Material: Froebel Archive of Childhood Studies Special Collection (some material can be found online, National Froebel Foundation records (Ref#: NFF) Associated Material: British and Foreign School Society Archive ( The Children’s Society ( Emilie Michaelis correspondence at the Natural History Museum ( Katesgrove Primary School records ( London County Council - Education Officer's Department: Training of Teachers ( National Children's Bureau Library ( Rachel McMillan College of Education records ( Records created or inherited by the Department of Education and Science ( Royal Holloway Archives and Special Collections ( University College London Institute of Education Archives and Special Collections (of note, contains records relating to exams and qualifications for students at the Froebel Educational Institute from 1950s onwards) ( Victoria and Albert Museum of Childhood (
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