Guide to the Photographs of the Henry C. Frick Educational Commission, c. 1909-1993

Digital Research Library, University Library System

Summary Information

Detre Library & Archives, Heinz History Center
Photographs of the Henry C. Frick Educational Commission
Henry C. Frick Educational Commission Photographs
Collection Number
Date [inclusive]
0.5 cubic feet (1 Box)
Language of Materials
The material in this collection is in English.
The Henry C. Frick Educational Commission Photographs include photographs, slides, and negatives, depicting staff and board members of the Commission, other individuals involved with the Commission, and participants in programs sponsored by the Commission. These photographs are in no way comprehensive and primarily portray the activities of the Commission in late 1980s and early 1990s.
Sponsor Note
This finding aid has been encoded as a part of the Historic Pittsburgh project a joint effort of the University of Pittsburgh and the Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania. Funding for this portion of the project has been donated by the Hillman Foundation.

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History of the Henry Clay Frick Educational Commission (1909-)

The Henry C. Frick Educational Commission has provided scholarships for public school teachers and has funded educational programs in Allegheny, Westmoreland, Washington, Greene, and Fayette Counties since 1909. The Commission was founded as the Educational Fund Commission anonymously by industrialist Henry Clay Frick, who desired to improve the quality of public school education. Frick appointed his longtime friend and noted astronomer, John A. Brashear, to administer the $250,000 fund for a five-year trial period. Brashear served as President of the Board of Trustees, and other board members included the Honorable Joseph Buffington, Dr. George W. Gerwig, W. Lucian Scaife, Charles F. Scott, Charles Reisfar, Jr., the Honorable John D. Shafer, and Clifford B. Connelley, with Martha C. Hoyt serving as corresponding secretary. In 1916, pleased with the success of the experiment, Frick added another $250,000 to the Commission's endowment and permitted his involvement to be revealed. Thus, the Commission was renamed as the Henry C. Frick Educational Commission.

Not long afterward, on December 2, 1919, Henry C. Frick died in New York. His will provided for an additional $3,000,000 for the Commission. The Commission's first president, John A. Brashear, died only four months later, on April 8, 1920. He was succeeded by W. Lucian Scaife who served as president until 1924. Miss Helen Clay Frick, Henry Frick's only surviving daughter, accepted Brashear's place on the board of trustees, serving on the board until her death in 1984. Other subsequent trustees have included educational leaders, business people, and other prominent citizens. Initially, trustees were chosen from educational and political leaders throughout the state, but in more recent years, the Board has been drawn from local community leaders. Board members have included James C. Rea, Alexander P. Reed, George D. Lockhart, John G. Bowman, Herbert L. Spencer, Ralph Munn, Albert C. Van Dusen, David Bergholz, Doreen E. Boyce, Henry Clay Frick II, David Henderson, Lloyd Kaiser, Sandra J. McLaughlin, and Edward D. Eddy. The Commission has typically been administered by a two-person paid staff. Martha C. Hoyt served as corresponding secretary from 1910-1940, and was succeeded by her former secretary Mary H. Kolb, who served as secretary from 1937-1940, executive secretary from 1940 to 1959, and executive director from 1960-1971. Edythe E. Hardtmayer was employed by the Commission from 1946 until 1980 as secretary, assistant director, and finally, associate director. Margaret D. Wilson served as assistant director from 1969-1971, and executive director from 1972 until the mid-1980s when she was succeeded by Jane Burger. Jane Burger directed the Commission until 1993.

After the initial formation of the Educational Fund Commission, the trustees considered several proposals for distributing the funds, ultimately choosing a suggestion from Pittsburgh Public Schools teachers. Beginning in 1910 and continuing for many years, the Commission primarily provided summer scholarships for continuing study among experienced teachers in the city of Pittsburgh. Awardees have attended summer school at regional colleges and universities that offer advanced degrees in education, including the University of Pittsburgh, Duquesne University, Grove City College, and Indiana University of Pennsylvania, as well as national universities such as Columbia, Harvard, and Cornell Universities. In 1932, the scholarships were suspended for a year so that the Commission could fund a summer meal program for Pittsburgh Public School students. During the depression years, the Board of Education provided funds for meals for underprivileged students, and by 1932, the situation had grown so impecunious that the Board of Education sought additional funding for the summer months. For that year only, the summer scholarships were curtailed so that the Commission could give $50,000 to the Board of Education to provide meals for children. The Commission also hosted a summer conference for teachers who met the same requirements as the scholarship program. The summer conferences were held first at Margaret Morrison College (now part of Carnegie-Mellon University), then at the University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania College for Women (now Chatham College), and finally at Wilson College (Chambersburg, Franklin County, Pennsylvania) until the program was discontinued in 1965. The summer conferences focused on broadening the teachers' understanding of current social and political issues. While the conferences were held on the urban campuses in Pittsburgh, from 1916 until the early 1950s, the themes centered on social work and welfare, Americanization, and child development. In these early years, the conference was called the Social Service Course for Teachers. Later political developments resulted in the expansion of the conference focus to include international affairs and citizenship, and from 1953 to 1965, these world affairs conferences were held on the rural Wilson College campus. Because of increasing costs, the trustees elected to discontinue the conferences in 1965 in favor of shorter sessions with in-depth studies. In 1975, the Commission discontinued the summer scholarship program for teachers, primarily because many school districts offered tuition remission for their teachers, and this outside support was no longer necessary. The Commission's Board of Trustees favored programs with more direct effect on public school pupils, such as teachers' in-service days and student assemblies.

Henry Frick's 1916 Deed of Gift established a priority system for granting scholarships, with first priority being given to teachers in the city of Pittsburgh, second to Allegheny County, and third to other areas in Western Pennsylvania, but until 1941, financial assistance was given almost exclusively to teachers and programs in the Pittsburgh Public Schools. In 1941, the Commission formally extended its granting area to include independent school districts throughout Allegheny County and in 1952, the geographic territory was further expanded to the neighboring counties of Westmoreland, Washington, Greene and Fayette. Grants have never been given outside this five county area. In addition to furnishing funds for individual teachers to continue their own studies, the Commission has given financial support to individuals and organizations to present programs in schools. One such program, the Frick Enrichment Series, provided after-school programs in the humanities for urban, rural, and suburban secondary students. Started in 1958 as the Humanities Seminars in Westmoreland County schools, the program continued until 1976 in schools throughout the Commission's granting area. Presenters for this series, administered entirely by the Commission, included local and national professors, authors, world affairs experts, artists, and actors.

Another longtime program supported by the Commission, the Educational Camping Project, afforded sixth-graders in the Pittsburgh Public Schools the opportunity to spend three autumn days at Camp Kon-O-Kwee, a Y.M.C.A. camp located along the Connoquenessing Creek in Fombell (Butler County), Pennsylvania. The Commission's support (1966-1976) replaced federal funds withdrawn in 1966. A similar program was sponsored from 1966 to 1973 at Camp Achievement, a summer camp in Normalville (Fayette County), Pennsylvania. Inner-city youth were eligible to spend one week enjoying the camp's recreational facilities, as well as receiving some academic tutoring. A favorite project of Miss Helen Clay Frick, who provided additional support from her own income, was administered by the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society from 1971-1982. The Humane Society hired an educator to give assemblies and lectures to school groups and senior citizens groups on proper pet care.

In addition to many other long-term programs, the Frick Educational Commission also maintained lengthy associations with organizations, such as public radio and television station WQED, Gateway to Music, Inc., and the Allegheny Conference on Community Development, as well as school districts, intermediate units, and academic institutions. The Commission provided many small grants for very specific, short-term programs and projects, such as in-school assemblies by experts on a variety of disciplines, in-service days, and conferences to supplement teacher education in a wide range of areas. The early alliance with the Pittsburgh Public Schools was not forgotten as the Commission widened the scope of grant giving. The Pittsburgh Public Schools continued to receive financial support for many programs, including an archival survey of the district's records, conducted in the early 1980s by Dr. Carolyn S. Schumacher.

Early in its history, in 1911, the Commission supported a Vocation Bureau, directed by Annie E. McCord. The Vocation Bureau was an experimental program designed to investigate students' reasons for dropping out of school to find work and what opportunities were available to them. The Bureau conducted a survey among children and young adults who had left grade school and high school, along with their parents. In addition to the director, the Bureau was staffed by a secretary and trained investigator, as well as volunteers from the Irene Kaufmann Settlement and local colleges and universities. After the survey was completed in 1913, the Bureau was taken over by the Pittsburgh Public Schools.

Teachers who received early scholarship funds to either pursue their own education or to attend the Social Service courses formed organizations. Two of these were the Phoebe Brashear Club and the Martha Howard Frick Club. The Phoebe Brashear Club was formed in 1911 by twelve teachers who had received Commission monies to attend summer school at Harvard University. The Club, named in honor of Dr. John Brashear's wife, raised funds for scholarships for needy students, contributions to the Brashear Settlement on the South Side and its camp, the Claudine Virginia Trees Camp (Evans City, Pa.), and other projects to improve the lives of children. Membership in this club, expanded to include any teacher who received Frick monies, was at times as high as 2000. The Martha Howard Frick Club, named in honor of Henry C. Frick's daughter who died as a young girl, was formed by a group of Allegheny County teachers who had attended the 1949 summer conference at Pennsylvania College for Women (Chatham College). Like the Phoebe Brashear Club, the Martha Howard Frick Club raised funds to give scholarships to high school seniors who planned to pursue degrees in education. The Herbert Burnham Davis Loan Fund was created as a memorial to the longtime principal of the H. C. Frick Training School for Teachers. The Fund gave loans to students at the training school who would not be able to complete the program without financial assistance, and later made loans to students pursuing degrees in education. These organizations maintained a close association with the Commission.

The Commission remained a vital and nationally recognized educational foundation throughout the 1980s. In 1993, the Commission announced its affiliation with the Buhl Foundation. As a result of the affiliation, the Commission was renamed the Henry C. Frick Educational Fund of the Buhl Foundation. The Frick Educational Fund is being administered by Dr. Doreen Boyce, executive director of the Buhl Foundation. The savings in administrative costs will permit the remainder of the endowment to be used to support educational programs as Henry Frick intended when he founded the Commission in 1909.

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Scope and Content Notes

The photographs include photographs, slides, and negatives, depicting staff and board members of the Commission, other individuals involved with the Commission, and participants in programs sponsored by the Commission. These photographs are in no way comprehensive and primarily portray the activities of the Commission in late 1980s and early 1990s. Photographs depicting staff and trustees of the Commission include images of Dr. John A. Brashear, Commission founder Henry Clay Frick, and Dr. Leon Gorodiche, at whose suggestion the Commision was established. Also included are photographs of Trustee James C. Rea, Phoebe Brashear, longtime director Mary Kolb, and a group photograph of the Trustees at a 1942 meeting in Chautauqua, New York. Of particular interest are photographs taken at the Commission's Fiftieth Anniversary Celebration at Wilson College. The photographs showing people involved with the Commission are primarily publicity shots of lecturers who were contracted by the Commission for various programs. Also included are several undated photographs of dancers for the Tamburitzans. The miscellaneous photographs include additional images of John Brashear and photographs of the Commission's office (1985-1990), but the majority of these photographs were taken at Commission-sponsored events, including Frick Alumni Luncheons (1992-1993) and programs at Fort Couch Middle School (Upper St. Clair, Allegheny County) and Mt. Ararat Community Activity Center.

The slides document the Commission's programs from 1986 through 1993, including mini-conferences at local colleges, universities, and schools, as well as community activities at the Kingsley Center (East Liberty neighborhood of Pittsburgh), Job Links Program at East Liberty Development, Inc., and a community playground in Brackenridge. Slides pertaining to the Job Links Program show beneficiaries of the program at their newly-acquired jobs. Other programs depicted in these slides include the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation's Portable Pittsburgh program, city of Pittsburgh Neighbor Fair (1992), afternoon seminars at the University of Pittsburgh, "Children are Special" at the Abraxas Foundation, Local Government Academy (1993), and Rachel Carson Day at Chatham College. In general, the program slides primarily show unidentified participants in the programs.

Of special note are informational slides on the Commission's grant giving activities from 1986-1988, arranged to the front of the volume. Although these slides do not comprehensively document programs sponsored by the Commission, they do provide an overview of the variety of programs the Commission funded in the 1980s and 1990s.

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The Henry C. Frick Educational Commission Photographs are housed in one archival box and are arranged alphabetically by folder title.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

Digital Research Library, University Library System Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania, Fall, 1999

Senator John Heinz Pittsburgh Regional History Center
1212 Smallman Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15222

Revision Description

 Converted from EAD Version 1.0 to EAD Version 2002 July 1, 2006

Restrictions on Access

This collection is open for research.

Restrictions on Use

Property rights reside with the Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania. Literary rights are retained by the creators of the records and their heirs. For permissions to reproduce or publish, please contact the curator of the Archives.

Acquisition Information

Acc# 1993.0225 Gift of the Henry C. Frick Educational Commission, (Records).1993

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Susan J. E. Illis on May 11, 1995.

Revision and rearrangement for the encoded version of the finding aid provided by Susan M. Allen on October 20, 1999.

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Collection Inventory

Commission Staff & Trustees  c1909-1959 11
People Involved with the Commission  c1955-1965 2
Miscellaneous  c1915-1993 3

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Slides-Commission Programs 
 1989-1993 4

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