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Historical Roots

Walk through the doors of Wimpfheimer Nursery School and one enters a school unlike any other. Every detail of its architecture and every chapter of its history are evidence of concern and respect for children. In Barbara Beatty's book, Preschool Education in America, she describes the birth of Wimpfheimer Nursery School within the context of the emerging Nursery School Movement of the 1910s and 1920s:

A more ambitious nursery school project was begun at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York, where in the 1920s interdisciplinary curriculum reorganization was under way to integrate the college's courses around the concept of "euthenics" or "the idea of improving the individual through improving his environment." Named for a Vassar graduate whose wealthy textile manufacturer father donated the money, the Mildred R. Wimpfheimer Nursery School opened in 1927 in a handsome gray stone building in "the style of the English Manor House." The school...was the site of much child development research under psychologist Joseph Stone and is still in operation.1

In 1927, the Vassar College Catalogue noted the opportunities for child study that this new nursery school would provide.2 Unlike our contemporary image, early nursery schools were viewed " a source of empirical information about what environment and educational procedures were best for young children."3 Nursery school leaders were active in conducting psychological studies and took pride in implementing the latest research.4 While approaches to the education of young children have dramatically changed over the years, Wimpfheimer Nursery School remains as it was intended: a state-of-the-art laboratory nursery school.

  1. Beatty, B. (1995). Preschool Education in America: The Culture of young Children from the Colonial Era to the Present. (p. 165) New Haven: Yale University Press
  2. Vassar College, (1926). Sixty-second Annual Catalogue of Vassar College. Poughkeepsie, NY: Author.
  3. Beatty, p. 133
  4. Ibid., p. 132.