Modern School symbol designed by Rockwell Kent


Please note that the link to "Images"
above is not operational. The author has not yet completed that page.

Links to Related Sites:

The Emma Goldman Archive

The Pitzer College Anarchy Archives

The Francisco Ferrer Collection - Mandeville Special Collections Library at the University of California, San Diego

The Stelton Modern School Archive at Rutger's University

Modern School Texts from:


Guide To Listening

The University at Albany History Department

Talking History

The Journal of MultiMedia History

Producing Radio Documentaries


Author's Statement and Acknowledgements

The Stelton Modern School documentary and web site represents almost a year's worth of research and development. Starting in March of 2001, I began by talking with former Stelton alum Jon Thoreau Scott, discussing the story of the school, its development and pedagogical background. This was followed by several trips to New Brunswick, NJ to interview other former students of the school about their experiences, memories, and feelings about the school. Fernanda Perrone, the archivist in charge of the Modern School Collection at Rutgers University was particularly helpful both for her knowledge of the school's history and for helping me find my way through the archives collection. Also, her short paper An Anarchist Experiment served as a nice background before embarking on an interview schedule. The materials found in the collection helped to shed further light on the stories unfolding in interviews. Also of great help in unraveling the school's beginnings were works by Paul Averich, who has written the definitive history of the school based upon his research and interviews he conducted in the late 1970s.
While the Stelton Modern School can certainly be appreciated for its own sake, it is hard to understand much of the early history of the school without an understanding of both the pedagogical background and the social conditions in the United States in the early part of the twentieth century. Once again, I must give thanks to Jon Scott for the many illuminating discussions we had on the topic of "just how this 'modern' education was supposed to work," and for forwarding to me many useful pieces of material, including photographs, copies of the Modern School Magazine, news items and magazine articles from his personal collection. Further information and material on the intellectual background of the school came from The Anarchists by James Joll, and the wonderful books by Modern School alums Will and Ariel Durrant.

The Stelton School did not develop in a vacuum, and indeed Stelton has a distinguished provenance. I must thank my professor Dr. Gerald Zahavi for helpful information on the Anarchist movements of the late 19th and early 20th century U.S. gleaned while taking his Work in America class a year and a half ago. It was very exciting to find local connections to such important historical figures as Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkmann, Frederick Froebel, and the artist Rockwell Kent. I must also thank Dr. Zahavi, as well as Susan McCormick of the University at Albany History department for their continuous help and support, both technical and moral.

Weszt, founder of the band of the same name, provided repeated critiques of this site, and gave many helpful hints and suggestions as to how to get it to work as desired.

I must also take the time, of course, to thank John Froebel Parker for the conversations about his great-grandfather, who laid some of the intellectual groundwork for Ferrer's methods.

Additional remembrances came from Maxine DeFelice writing in Spectacle, Sam Freedman in New Jersey Monthly, and Rhya Levine Seligman.

Information of the life and work of Francisco Ferrer came from Carolyn P. Boyd and a small pamphlet: The Modern School Movement: Historical and Personal Notes on the Ferrer School in Spain published by The Friends of the Ferrer Modern School, as well as Paul Avrich.

While a more traditional paper format could have been used to develop this avenue of research, I felt strongly that the multi-media capabilities provided by the world-wide-web afforded greater opportunities for exploring and developing the subject. The ability to easily incorporate both audio and images, along with the textual and scholarly material, and the creation of a "visual theme" increases understanding, appeals to a potentially greater audience, and allows the user to approach the material in his or her own way - a concept consistent with the values of "free education" espoused by the proponents of modern schools.

Finally, it has been my great pleasure to make this an ongoing project that has included continued involvement in the Friends of the Modern School annual reunion, and to have some small involvement in the plans for a historical park on the site of the school.

It is important to recall that there have been, at times, thriving intellectual communities based upon other ways of living, and to try and rescue the Anarchist from that stereotype: the "mad bomber," so prevalent in the public imagination. This is my small contribution to that effort.

Aaron R. Wunderlich
March, 2002


-Avrich, Paul. The Modern School Movement. Princeton, NJ. Princeton University Pr. 1980.

-__________. Anarchist Portraits. Princeton NJ. Princeton University Pr. 1988.

-Boyd, Carolyn P. "The Anarchists and Education in Spain 1868-1909." The Journal of Modern History. Vol 48, Issue 4, On Demand Supplement. Dec. 1976, pg. 125-170.

-DeFelice, Maxine with Pete Goodman. "The Ferrer Colony." Spectacle. Vol 4, No. 1. Summer 1991. Pg. 57-65.

-Durant, Will and Ariel. A Dual Autobiography. New York, NY. Simon and Shuster. 1977.

-Freedman, Samuel G. "A Requiem for Anarchy." New Jersey Monthly. Dec. 2000. Pg. 56-57, 104-105.

-Joll, James. The Anarchists. London, England. Eyre and Spottiswoode. 1979. Second Edition.

-Perez, Pura, et al. The Modern School Movement: Historical and Personal Notes on the Ferrer Schools in Spain. The Friends of the Modern School. 1990.

-Perone, Fernanda. An Anarchist Experiment: The Modern School of Stelton, New Jersey. Unpublished paper written for the opening of the Modern School Archives at Rutgers University Library for the Twentieth Century Utopian Communities Archives Project, funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission. 1996.

-Seligman, Rhya Levine. Remarks given at the annual reunion of the Children of the Modern School, September, 1996.

Main | History | Interviews | A Brief History of Francisco Ferrer | Images [forthcoming] | The Modern School Magazine | Acknowledgements |

~This page last updated Friday, 3 May 2002~