Manumit Fund Raiser 1945-46

[NOTE: Below is a copy of a document apparently prepared for fundraising purposes, probably during 1945-46 year. Cover, page 8 of original and cited attachments not available. Mike S. 2006]


Manumit is described by Porter Sargent [standard annual guide to US private schools] as thoroughly cosmopolitan. In past years its contacts with European underground and resistance groups, and with Jewish groups, both dating back to 1935, later contacts with British groups (during the blitz of 1940) greatly enriched the enrollment with interesting evacuee children.

Even now, out of 65 children, two are from China, one from Latin America and seven from Europe ( France, Czechoslovakia, Italy, German). At the present time, racially two of our children are of the Mongolian group while four have African inheritance. At least one tenth of the enrollment represents the darker races of today’s world. The religious influences behind the students are also wholesomely mixed. Five of the present students are Catholic and twenty have some Jewish culture in their backgrounds.

The staff is as cosmopolitan as the student body. It either includes or has included Chinese, Nisei, American Negro, American Indian, English, Czechoslovakian, Scandinavian men and women together with German and Austrian anti-nazis along with many members of the so-called old American group. Judaism, Catholicism, Quakerism and Ethical Agnosticism as well as Protestantism are stimulatingly included in the backgrounds from which the adult staff members have come to bring their contributions to Manumit.

The complete respect for human beings as human beings and for their backgrounds as important parts of their personalities, the lack of prejudice of racial nature at Manumit are often refreshing to visitors, but at the school are so taken for granted that the administrator whose job it is to maintain this enriching heterogeneity is often the only person who continues conscious of it.

Both raced relations and an appreciative survey of the great religions in world history come into discussions and into the organized curricula of the children. But at Manumit these studies serve by helping the children with facts and interpretation to reinforce an essential soundness and sympathy which are already there, a part of the air the children breathe.

Manumit School’s equally significant claim to distinction, its evolution of an improved technique of human relations between the generations is more difficult to portray in thee printed or typewritten word. This is an educational technique which is being developed cooperatively by the staff for later publication for use by other groups. See the two essays written by the director, “A Philosophy of Discipline” and “Toward Conserving the Friction Loss Between Generations” which are contained in Exhibit 4 in our documentation.

The youngsters enrolled at Manumit are for the most part mentally well endowed, physically sturdy, and attractive in appearance. They are in age between six and sixteen years. A large proportion of the parents are metropolitan professional or business career men and women. There is a high proportion among our parent body of employed mothers, and of unstable or broken homes. Many of our youngsters therefore even though above average in potentialities come to us carrying a certain amount of resentment and conflict in their attitudes. This sometimes results in their behavior and job performances being at the beginning of their stay with us below the level of their abilities. To meet this situation we require in addition to our enlightened, broad curriculum and interracial policy, an understanding and wisely arranged emotional climate where the antagonisms and conflicts of the youngsters can to a great extent be drained off. This to a great extent we do provide.

The full tuition is $1100.00 but in the cases of about half of our students, the school grants allowances of from one to five hundred dollars, and some of these cases part of what funds are paid are paid by friendly agencies so that the scholarship allowances to the parent is even greater. A list of some of the organizations who have helped to maintain children at Manumit is given as Exhibit 3 of our Documentation.



Throughout the country an alarmed thinking group is concerned (almost belatedly) that an attitude of tolerance be inculcated in school children. This concern is manifested in such worthy programs as the Springfield Plan, school study programs of the Council Against Intolerance, the organized efforts of the Conference of Christians and Jews, and they must be continued.

In general, however, these programs tend to be superimposed on school situations and curricula that inherently are inflexible. Too often they necessarily result in an academic, formalized, verbalized rationalization of what should be properly “tolerant” attitudes which in itself is a contradiction of terms. Sympathetic appreciation of others and others’ rights and individuality must be rooted in a living, working situation. That is what Manumit’s organization philosophy is and does – It is the only non-sectarian private resident school that does so –

In all the history of American education, educational gains have been made through the leadership and examples set by pioneers. Philosophy has to be demonstrated in an actual living situation. John Dewey’s great contribution to education was interpretative to teachers and others through pioneer schools organized around his philosophy.

Although small, and the spreading of influence is necessarily slow, Manumit is definitely such a demonstration center and must be maintained as proof that both the educational and social philosophy on which it is based, are practical and can work.

In addition to its value as a demonstration center, Manumit is a workshop where idealistic teachers may acquire experience to carry out to other, perhaps less sympathetic school situations. Thus, through a gradual leavening process these teachers spread Manumit’s program and philosophy. See Exhibit 5 in our Documentation.

Manumit is aware of another responsibility it now cannot wholly fulfill. In 1944 the school moved from Pawling, N. Y. to Bensalem Township, Pennsylvania, near Langhorne and Bristol. By this move from a relatively remote rural area to one still rural but in comparatively close juxtaposition to two large cities, Trenton and Philadelphia. Manumit assumed an obligation to come to serve and accept a place in potentially much bigger immediate geographic community than previously. Here it can better demonstrate its philosophy than in a withdrawn introverted acreage.

During the year and a half that Manumit has been operating in its new location, a staff member has run for the local school board, a staff member has been placed in charge of the committee on world peace of a local church, the school’s gymnasium and pond have been utilized for recreation in a friendly informal way by neighboring children of the local community, and some of the schools own youngsters have participated in a local young people’s forum on race relations.

Already Manumit has been requested by members of the community to establish a day school and by another organized group of parents to establish a nursery school. Its present buildings and plant cannot be stretched and sound educational philosophy dictates that a boarding school should not include day pupils unless the two groups can be equal or nearly equal in size. However, Manumit is fully aware that it is failing to meet this demonstrated community need.

Manumit also feels an obligation to the community to extend its summer camp to children of residents, many of whom cannot afford its at present necessarily high summer camp tuition – that is high in contrast to endowed or otherwise partially supported camps like the Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts where camp experience is limited to one or two weeks in order to give opportunity to more children; but low in contrast to fees charged by camps similar to Manumit.

At the present time, Manumit’s Camp has to be run to show an excess of income over expenditure as an expedient to help carry the winter program, but this is only a temporary financial stop-gap.

The staff of Manumit has not yet had time to determine in which direction it should develop to reach full integration with the community nor to fully explore community needs which it has potentiality for meeting. This is, however, a broad area importance to both the school and community and inevitable to the growth and wider spread of the Manumit idea.


In spite of the demands of its professional standards which require it to provide shop, art, music, library hours, the natural and physical sciences, farm activities, nature lore, riding, sports and dramatics in addition to the three Rs, and in spite of the must [sic] which it faces to obtain insightful, patient men and women to stay with the children’s emotional needs, it has been able to grant the scholarships it has and still meet its running expenses.

The school’s Financial Statement for the year 1944-45, its first on its new site, gives demonstration of this fact and is included in our Documentation as Exhibit 9.

It is the capital investment expenses which cannot be met without the greatly expanded support of enlightened and financially substantial people.

The school’s move from Pawling in ’44 after eleven continuous growing years under one administration was occasioned by the fire which destroyed our administration and social building, which also housed the director and his family, four other staff members and ten students. Although this emergency was courageously handled with no injury whatever to any personnel, yet the great impairment in facilities made a move inevitable at the conclusion of the school year.

Manumit in its Pawling years did yeoman and sometimes historic things on a shoestring setup. The necessity of selling out and moving induced the Board and administration, after due deliberation, to take a gamble on obtaining for the school, facilities which once obtained and paid for would assure the school’s enlarged and permanent service on a basis comparable to its vision.

The new property consists of eighty acres of rolling fertile farm lands, woods, gardens, playing fields, pasture and lawns with some of the largest and most beautiful trees in the county. A tennis court and soft ball diamond have been constructed and the natural creek has been converted into a pond although not without some capital expenditure. The main building, a substantial almost completely fireproof structure, originally designed by Aymar Embury, has been converted for school purposes containing kitchen, dining rooms, assembly and living room, library, art studio, office, infirmary and living quarters for the nurse, four counselors, the girl students and the younger boys. See the picture in the folder in Exhibit 7 of our Documentation. A smaller almost completely fireproof [sic] building, formerly partially a garage, has been converted to house the science laboratory and director and his family (see Exhibit 7). The substantially built barns (far larger than necessary to house the school’s cows and riding horses) have been partially reconverted to house older boys, a small but useful gymnasium (which doubles as a theater) and carpenter shop. The original Bucks County farm house and several outbuildings have been reconverted to house several of the married staff couples. To accomplish these reconversion [sic], however, the school has had to commit itself to capital expenditures, funds for which will have to be obtained in the reasonably near future, as will be shown in the itemization on page 6.

In sum, as a result of the move the school is now functioning in a situation with meter [sic] opportunities for expansion and usefulness than it had in Pawling, in more fire-resistant and substantial structures (even if a bit confined for space). Facilities for science, shop and children’s living even though expansion is still needed, are greatly improved over those at the old site and good work is being done. The school has an organization, a fearless creative tradition, a public of its own of children, educators and psychiatrists, a momentum which would take a newly founded school years to acquire.

But in order to have made the move to Bucks County and to have set operations in motion on the new site, certain commitments for capital expenditures have already had to be made to complete payment for which $15,000 will be required this spring. What these commitments are specifically and what has already been paid on them is shown on page 6.

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