Title: Philadelphia Friends Schools
Author: Thomas D. Hamm
Publisher: Friends School
Date: September 2009
Arcadia Publishing has developed a minor industry with its publication of attractive, inexpensive paperback collections of images. They usually have localities as their themes, or sometimes institutions; I have purchased volumes that range from images of Ashe County, North Carolina; to postcards of Richmond, Indiana; to cemeteries in Indianapolis. Now Quaker history has joined the pack with this volume.
As is the template for these publications, most of the volume is taken up with photographs. (Although some of these schools trace their history back centuries, the overwhelming majority of the images are from the 20th century.) Janet Chance and Mark Franek provide a brief introduction to the history of Quaker education and the tenets that distinguish Quaker schools today. The book features sections on origins, meeting for worship, inquiry and innovation, community and collaboration, experiential learning, and peace and social justice.
Alumni will probably find that the pictures of worship, science labs, discussion groups and Maypole dancing in the book evoke memories. And while the emphasis is on illustration, the texts are the most substantial that I have seen in anything Arcadia has published. This is no substitute for any of the good individual school histories, or for works like Helen Hole's Things Civil and Useful or Paul Lacey's Growing into Goodness. But it is literate, evocative and true to its subject. One can learn much about Friends schools from it.