Froebel Archive for Early Childhood Studies

Scope and Content

Records of Froebel College, comprising:College Government records, including minutes of the Committee of Members of the Froebel Educational Institute, 1900-1953; minutes of the Governing Body of the Incorporated Froebel Educational Institute, 1953-1969; minutes of the Council of Management, 1970-[1993]; minutes and papers of the College Governing Body, 1970-1993; minutes of the Annual Meeting of the Association of the Froebel Educational Institute, 1946-[1995]; minutes of the Finance and General Purposes Committee, 1948-1954, 1978-1983; Annual Reports, 1895-1933; lists of subscribers, [1899]; College regulations, 1953; and papers of the Academic Board, 1973-1984.

Papers relating to relations of the College with outside bodies, comprising general correspondence and material concerning visitations and inspections, including the National Froebel Foundation, 1933-1951; the Board of Education (later the Ministry of Education), 1934-1944; London County Council, 1920-[1953], including papers concerning the LCC Nursery School, Grove House; Hertfordshire County Council, [1949-1950], mainly relating to the plans for College use of Offley; the Institute of Education, 1947-1960, including minutes of the Committee of Principals; the ATCDE, 1942-1946; the Nursery School Association (now BAECE), and other organisations concerned with early education, 1945-1946; and the Training Colleges Clearing House, 1951.

Financial records including annual accounts, 1908, 1910; General Ledgers, 1928-1941; Cash Books, 1921-1954; Petty Cash books, 1935-1949; balance sheets, [1928-1940]; monthly accounts, 1926-1960s; Student Fee Books of Froebel College, 1905-1906, 1910-1911; files relating to College fees, 1950s; accounts for various scholarships and external grants, [1929-1949]; cash book for the Students Aid Fund, 1898-1956; salary books, 1940s-1953; ledger for the Common Room Fund, 1936-1950; and accounts of the Esther Lawrence Association, 1948-1966.

Material relating to buildings, including correspondence and papers concerning building funds and appeals, [1891-1960]; correspondence and financial material with architects including John S Quilter, [1899-1914], and Norman and Dawbarn, 1954; legal papers and correspondence relating to Knebworth House, 1939; ground plans of the College, [1920s-1930s], including the new Science Block and the Lulham Extension; plans by Fernand Billerey plans for alterations and extensions during the 1920s; files relating to maintenance of the College buildings, 1920s-1960s; and Bursar's files, [1930s-1990s].

Publicity material, including prospectuses, [1889]-1958; papers relating to Open Days, 1964-1970; advertisements, 1925-1933; and press cuttings, [1890s-1990s].

Curriculum material, including syllabi and course descriptions, 1942-1975; papers relating to examinations, including correspondence with the National Froebel Foundation, 1940-1949, and the Institute of Education, 1957-1958; examination reports, 1940-1949; Froebel Educational Institute notes on the College curriculum, 1963-1975; and syllabuses, 1946-1963.

Staff and student material, comprising staff registers, 1894-1929, including registers of visiting teachers, 1894-1901; visitors books for students and staff at Knebworth and Grove House, 1943-1962; student registers, 1913-1962; student records, 1940-1990s, relating to the PGCE course, 1975-1991, the Nursery Education Course, 1974-1976, the Diploma in Education, 1964-1984, and the Diploma in Music, 1970-1982.

Material relating to student societies, including papers of the Guild of St Francis, the FEI Natural History Club, including accounts, 1901-1921 and minutes, 1907-1943; illustrated scrapbooks relating to College trips to Keston, [1924-1931].

Papers of the Michaelis Guild, notably minute books, 1896-1992; printed notices, 1905-1981; financial material, 1955-1977; and historical material relating to the Guild.

Papers relating to the Library including working papers and notes of actions for the Library Committee, 1939-1971; account books, 1922-1979; Annual Reports, 1908-1957; accession registers, [1920s-1980s]; various stock books, 1920s-1962; minutes of the Library Committee, 1930-1958; Library reports, 1925-1927; 'Meetings minute books', 1922-1930, 1969-1971; and accounts for Mary Bennett's Prize, 1943-1951.

Materials relating to College events, including visitors books for the Spring Festival, 1925, and various exhibitions, 1948 and 1982; papers relating to vacation courses and conferences, 1925, 1948-1952; and material relating to the 1982 Bicentenary arrangements and 1992 Centenary celebrations, including correspondence, cuttings and brochures.

Miscellaneous material relating to the history of the Froebel Educational Institute, 1892-1978, including reminiscences of students, staff and pupils; papers relating to the foundation of the Roehampton Institute of Higher Education, 1974-1978, including instruments, draft deeds, and College by-laws; and material relating to the history of Grove House, [1920s-1930s], including correspondence and maps.

Materials relating to the Demonstration Schools of the Froebel Institute, including prospectuses, fee books, student registers, annual reports, financial material and funding appeals for Colet Gardens Demonstration School (later Ibstock Place), [1894-1936]; prospectuses, magazines, student/staff registers, fee books for Challoner Street Practising School, [1905-1914]; prospectuses, financial material and staff salary book for Grove House School, [1920s-1940s]; Annual Reports for Redford House, [1989-1992]; prospectuses, Annual Reports and trust deeds for Michaelis Free Kindergarten (later Notting Hill Nursery School and St Anne's Nursery School); and minute books, Annual Reports and prospectuses for Somers Town Nursery, 1910-1946.

Student work, [1894-1970s], including scrapbooks, handwork examples, drawing and lettering copybooks, notebooks covering the range of subjects taught in a Froebel College, including Nature Study and Handwork, and also Teaching Practice notes; there are also various wooden games such as Froebel's Gifts, jigsaw puzzles, ABC games, picture and word matching games and number games.

Photographs, [1890s-1990s], of Froebel College buildings and grounds, notably Grove House, Templeton, Knebworth, Offley, Colet Gardens, and other colleges; students and staff, including student activities, teaching, and College social events; a separate box contains photographs of students at the Froebel Educational Institution Demonstration School in 1928-1929, including Iris Murdoch.

Material relating to specific persons, notably Esther Lawrence (1862-1944), 1898-1931, including printed articles by her, mainly on kindergarten and preparatory school teaching; biographical material compiled by Jane Read; original correspondence including letters to Claude Montefiore and Arthur Symonds; personal notebooks and texts of speeches; and invitations to 'At homes', 1903-1907. Papers of Madame Michaelis (1834-1904), one of the founders of the Froebel Society, including lecture notes, 1884-1895, and a draft 'History of the founding of the new Education, 1831-52'. Research material mainly concerning the life and work of Friedrich Froebel, and consisting of photocopies, copies and transcripts of original archival documents, photographs, and extracts from printed works. Personal papers of Molly Root Brearley, [1940s-1980s], including volumes of notes for use in College assemblies, teaching material such as lecture notes and course papers, extensive printed materials on educational topics, including articles and pamphlets written by Brearley. Original writings of Dr Elsa Walters, including various short stories and an autobiography written in 1979.

Publications: Copies of "The Link", the journal of past Froebel College students, 1910-2002; Froebel Society pamphlets, 1878-[1967]; and an extensive printed reference collection.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Froebel Educational Institute was inaugurated at a meeting held in the Westminster Palace Hotel on the 25th October 1892, through the initiative of Mrs Julia Salis Schwabe and a group of liberal-minded men and women who formed the membership of the Froebel Society (to give it its full title, Froebel Society for the Promotion of the Kindergarten System) which had come into being in London in 1874. The Froebel Educational Institute (FEI) was inaugurated as a non-denominational college, and was intended to promote the kindergarten system in Britain. One of their most strongly held convictions was that the training of teachers should include practical experience, and consequently the FEI was provided from its inception with a co-educational Demonstration School with a Kindergarten.

On 20th September 1894, the College formally opened in Talgarth Road, West Kensington, and Madame Emilie Michaelis was appointed as the first Principal. FEI's first school, the fee-paying Colet Gardens Demonstration School, was opened in 1895, and was followed by the Challoner Street Practising School in 1899 (the latter survived until 1918, when its pupils were transferred to Colet Gardens). In 1896, the Michaelis Guild was formed as the alumni organisation for ex-Froebel College students.

In 1900, the FEI became the 'Incorporated Froebel Educational Institute', a registered company under the Board of Trade; the governing body was known as the Committee of Members. Esther Lawrence succeeded Emilie Michaelis as Principal in 1901: she remained in the post until 1931, overseeing the growth and development of FEI into a residential college based at Roehampton. Esther Lawrence was closely involved in the founding of two of the oldest nursery schools in London - the Michaelis Free Kindergarten in Notting Dale (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 School remained in Talgarth Road and expanded into the old College accommodation. As the Roehampton site developed, there was a need for a school in the grounds, and Grove House School was opened in 1929 (it closed in 1939). Student numbers were growing so rapidly that the FEI purchased Templeton, a listed building in Priory Lane, Roehampton, in 1930. 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 World War Two, 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.

On the establishment of the University of London Institute of Education, FEI became one of its constituent colleges. 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 College 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 an MA in Education 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 school on-site.

Plans to form a union of the four voluntary teacher-training colleges in the south-west of London began to take shape in the early 1970s, with the four acting as an academic unity to offer BA, BSc and B Humanities degrees, validated by the University of London, from 1974. The Roehampton Institute of Higher Education (RIHE) was formally incorporated in 1975, with each of the constituent colleges - Froebel, Whitelands, Southlands and Digby Stuart - retaining its own corporate identity. The title Roehampton Institute London was subsequently adopted. Though its degrees were validated by the University of Surrey from 1985, 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; it then changed its name to the University of Roehampton in 2011.

In 2012 the Incorporated Froebel Educational Institute demerged, with the Ibstock Place School becoming a separate entity and the Incorporated Froebel Educational Institute renaming itself as the Froebel Trust. In 2013, the Froebel Trust merged with the National Froebel Foundation, with the new merged organisation known as the Froebel Trust. (The National Froebel Foundation had previously been formed from a merger of the Froebel Society and the National Froebel Union in 1938. This National Froebel Foundation aimed to promote the Froebelian system and had been responsible for regulating the teaching of the Froebelian system.)

Access Information

Many records within this collection are open for access.

Archives, manuscripts and artefacts are available for consultation by appointment only; we require a 24 hour notice. (Please note that you need to contact us by Thursday afternoon if you wish to visit us on the following Tuesday.) Books can be viewed without an appointment at any time during the archive opening hours.

Opening times: In term time, the Archives and Special Collections are open Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday – 10am - 4pm. Outside term time the Archives and Special Collections are open by appointment only.

Appointments can be made by contacting the archivist using any of the methods below:


Telephone: 020 8392 3323

Postal address: Archives and Special Collections, Library and Learning Services, University of Roehampton, Roehampton Lane, London, SW15 5SZ.

The Archives and Special Collections are located on the fourth floor of the University Library.

(Some records within this collection are closed and not available for research. For further information, please contact the archivist using the contact details above.)

Acquisition Information

Transferred from Froebel College in 2006.

Other Finding Aids

Most of the books, journals and publications in the collection have been individually catalogued in the University of Roehampton's library catalogue (choose collection "Froebel Archive" in advanced search if you want to limit your search to this collection only):

Alternative Form Available

Some published material from the collection has been digitised and can be found online:

Archivist's Note

Description created in June 2015.

Custodial History

An archive to look after the records of Froebel College and related material that had been donated was established in Froebel College in 1977, and was known as the Early Childhood Archive. In 1998 the archive was re-named the Froebel Archive for Childhood Studies. Responsibility for the management of the collection was transferred from Froebel College to Roehampton University (later known as the University of Roehampton) in 2006.

Related Material

A file that may have been compiled by the Froebel Institute can be found in this repository under the reference AHG/20.

Related collections held by Archives and Special Collections include:

  • The records of the National Froebel Foundation. See reference code: NFF
  • The Children's Literature Collection, containing published books and resources relating to children's literature. See reference code: CLC
  • The Richmal Crompton Collection, containing her archives, her personal library and a collection of her published works for children and for adult readers. See reference code: RC

Records relating to exams and qualifications for students at the Froebel Educational Institute from c1950s onwards are held in the archives at University College London (UCL).


"The Froebel Educational Institute: a centenary review" (FEI, 1992); Peter Weston, "From Roehampton Great House to Grove House to Froebel College: an illustrated history" (Roehampton Institute, London, 1998); Peter Weston, "The Froebel Educational Institute: the origins and history of the college" (University of Surrey Roehampton, London, 2002); Colet Gardens Demonstration School. Set of 6 postcards. (University of Surrey Roehampton, 2002); Jane Read, "The Dissemination of Friedrich Froebel's kindergarten ideology in Britain 1850-1900" (K.G. Saur, Munchen, 2000).