One of the original experiments of the BEE was sponsoring intensive programs of observation and measurement of children and their learning behavior. Experiments were conducted in classrooms of Caroline Pratt’s Play School (later the City and Country School) which shared quarters with the BEE in a series of townhouses on West 12th and West 13th Streets. In 1918, Harriet Johnson began operating a small nursery program which became the Nursery School of the BEE in 1919. Johnson served as the school’s first director. Play School and Nursery School classrooms served as a laboratory where Bureau staff observed and chronicled children’s development. The progressive curriculum was enriched by a knowledgeable and truly interested central staff as well as the hands on opportunities available for students throughout the city. During the 1920s, despite a successful combination of educational practice and research, the relationship between Mitchell and Pratt became strained, and the City and Country School and the Bureau of Educational Experiments parted ways. In 1930, the Bureau acquired a former Fleischmann’s Yeast factory at 69 Bank Street and the Bureau and Nursery School made the move into the expanded space. The Nursery School was renamed in honor of Harriet Johnson following her death in 1934.
By the early 1950s, the philosophies of Bank Street and the Harriet Johnson Nursery School had diverged, and as a result the two parted ways. In 1954, Elizabeth Gilkeson was appointed Director of Children’s Programs, overseeing the establishment of the Bank Street School for Children. The School’s program was gradually expanded to include children aged three through thirteen.
Over the years, new programs were developed and added to Children’s Programs, including the Early Childhood Center, Family Center and Summer Camp.
Scope and Content Note
The Children’s Programs records are comprised of 5 subgroups; Early Programs, School for Children, Early Childhood Center, Family Center and Summer Camp. Access to certain records is restricted.