Modern School Collection: Images


The Modern School Collection presents a unique record of the history of the Stelton Modern School, located in Piscataway, New Jersey from 1915 to 1953. Included are publications, correspondence, photographs, and other related materials. This digital project brings together many of the photographs and some of the children's publications in order to provide access to users who are unable to visit the library in person.

Photographs show the historical growth of the school, both in terms of the physical buildings and of the people who lived and worked there. In addition, "Voice of the Children," a children's publication, gives researchers an insight into the minds of the children and illustrates the creativity that was fostered by the Modern School experiment in alternative education.

The photographs are all black and white. Most of them were taken at the Stelton Modern School, although a few were taken in other places that the children were taken for short visits. The "Voice of the Children," which was founded by printing teacher Paul Scott, consists of stories, poems, and artwork made from linoleum cuts. The children were completely in charge of the publication process, including the printing and typesetting.

Not all of the photographs, and only a small number of "Voice of the Children" publications, were selected for digitization. They were chosen because of their high level of use and their good condition. They are stored in the Special Collections and University Archives at Rutgers University Libraries in New Brunswick, New Jersey.

Picture Galleries


The photographs are divided into five categories: faculty, daily life, classes, buildings, and non-Stelton photographs.

Each set of pictures will open in a pop-up slideshow.

Faculty and Staff

Jim and Nellie Dick (Sept. 1921)

Alexis Ferm working at the New York Times (1895)

Elizabeth Ferm at Hampton, CT farm (ca.1918)

Alexis Ferm-portrait (ca.1920)

Elizabeth Ferm-portrait (ca.1920)

Alexis Ferm in Fairhope, AL (1955)

Modern School staff meeting (ca.1920-21)

Modern School staff-group portrait (ca.1920-21)

Daily Life

Elizabeth Ferm with children (ca. 1920)

Children at Stelton (ca.1919-22)

Children on steps (ca.1920)

Child Playing Violin (ca.1920)

Girls Dancing (ca.1924-25)

Children's Band (1925)

Children's Play (ca.1920)

Stelton children's theatre-performing (1916)

Stelton Children's theatre-group portrait (ca.1916)

Leonard Abbott addressing an audience (ca.1915)


Elizabeth Ferm with kindergarten class (ca.1920-22)

Wood shop with Alexis Ferm (ca.1920-22)

Music class with Frances Goldenthal (ca.1922)

Weaving class with Anna Riedel (1922)

Reading lesson with Sherwood Trask (1922)

Wood shop with Anna Schwartz (1950s)


Construction of schoolhouse (1920)

School building and shop (ca.1920)

Dormitory and living house (1915)

Dining room in living house (ca.1925)


Alexander Berkman at Union Square, New York (ca.1914)

Alexis Ferm at the Pioneer Youth Camp (1932)

Pioneer Youth Camp art house (1932)


Avrich, Paul. (1995). Anarchist's Voices: An Oral History of Anarchism in America. Princeton University Press: Princeton, N.J.

Avrich, Paul. (1980). The Modern School Movement: Anarchism and Education in the United States. Princeton Universtiy Press: Princeton, N.J.

Cohen, Joseph J. and Ferm, Alexis. (1925). The Modern School of Stelton: A Sketch. Modern School Association: Stelton, N.J.

Veysey, Laurence R. (1978). The Communal Experience: Ananrchist and Mystical Communities in Twentieth-Century America. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Finding Aid to the Modern Collection

Voices of the Children: 1922 | 1929 | 1931

Last updated September 17, 2002; Project designed by Ariana Baker; For more information contact Fernanda Perrone.