Northampton School, 1926

by Rick Teller '70, Williston Northampton Archivist
Northampton School students on the steps of Montgomery House, 1926. Jean Bigelow is in the 3rd row, third from right. (Please click images to enlarge.

Recently the Archives acquired a photo album kept by Jean M. Bigelow, who attended Northampton School for Girls in 1925-26.  Since Northampton School had just opened a year earlier, in 1924, the contents of the album represent some of the earliest images we have.

We don’t know much about Jean Bigelow — in fact, her identification in the photograph above is based on an ambiguous caption on another copy of this photo given us by Elva Minuse, class of 1927 (that’s Elva in the second row, second from right), and comparison with uncaptioned family photos elsewhere in Jean’s album.  Beyond her academic transcript, she left no paper trail in our alumnae records.  According to Social Security records, she was born in 1907 and died, aged 78, in 1986.  She attended Vassar College, class of 1930, and lived in Worcester, Mass.

Some of Jean’s friends. Elva Minuse is at the bottom.

And that’s about all we know.  But the photos capture Northampton School for Girls at its very beginning, so this is a significant addition to the Archives.

Commencement, 1926. Jean is in the back row, center.

Montgomery House
Founders and co-principals Dorothy Bement and Sarah Whitaker.
More classmates. Most alumnae will recall building identified as Bement House by its later name, Stronach House.
Probably in costume for the May Court and Dance Pageant, associated with Commencement.
Another May Court image?
Scott Hall, which served as Northampton School’s gymnasium.
Possibly Jean’s dorm-mates.
This appears to be a spring picnic.
Lounging on the grass. Northampton School’s extensive grounds, at the time at the edge of Northampton, lent themselves to spending time outdoors.
A view from the dyke behind the campus.
More outdoor, if inexplicable, fun.
The Charleston, all the rage in 1926.
Hathaway House.

As noted above, Jean attended Vassar College, class of 1930.  The album also contains many photos of Vassar, which we will eventually share with their archives.  Among them is this lovely and unusual nighttime image of the Vassar Library.

The Vassar College Library.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *