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Massillon History: Charity School of Kendal

Dreams for the Future: Charity Rotch School of Kendal

By Megan Smeznik, Archival Intern

Charity Rotch School of Kendal, c.1920
Collection of the Massillon Museum (BC 2295.1)
BC 2295.1 Charity Rotch School II
Charity Rotch School of Kendal, c.1920
Collection of the Massillon Museum (BC 2295.2)

Education has been at the heart of communities throughout the United States. From controversial cases such as Brown v. Board of Education to schools founded by religious groups, education has shaped communities. Education has also been seen as a tool by community leaders to serve the working poor and indigent. Concerns about the poor have been an issue that societies continue to confront. In 19th century America, education reforms opened a new door to providing to these disadvantaged individuals. Massillon, Ohio has been no exception to this. Operating from 1829 to 1906, the Charity Rotch School of Kendal worked to serve in the education of those children who were “destitute orphans,” “indigent children,” and “particularly whose parents were of depraved morals.” Named for Charity Rotch, the wife of Thomas Rotch founder of Kendal, the school was one the first vocational schools in Ohio.

Charity schools can be described as benevolent institutions funded by charitable persons that teach children the basic fundamentals of education that can include instructions in a particular faith and trades. Industrialized countries like England pioneered the charity school in the 18th and 19th centuries to educate the children of the poor and industrial workers. America developed its own charity schools in the image of their counterparts in England and Europe. The Charity Rotch School was founded with $20,000 bequeathed by Charity Rotch. Although Charity Rotch was a practicing Quaker, the school was not formed on any basis of religion. Instead, the school was meant to instruct the children in a “good common English education” that was structured around morals. Children admitted to the school spent half of their days studying and the other half learning about particular trades. The children were to be instructed in the principles of farming, agriculture, housewifery, culinary employment and much more. These domestic and agricultural ideologies were meant to be the foundations for “useful” citizens by the time the children left the school.
As with many institutions, financial troubles plagued the Charity Rotch School in its later years. Nevertheless, the trustees of the organization were dedicated to their duty of providing for the indigent children. A lasting memory to the institution is recognizable through the Charity School of Kendal Scholarship for Stark county students at the Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences. While the Charity Rotch School no longer stands, its influence still continues to impact the Massillon area.

To view a database of Charity School students from the Massillon Public Library, click here.

To view documents and photographs from Charity School, click here.

Copy of School Application:
School application printed copy on onion skin paper.
Date: c. 1850
Gift of the Gates Estate (85.70.58)

Indenture Agreement
Indenture agreement to be signed by student and guardians
Date: c. 1880
Gift of the Gates Estate (85.70.60)

Scholarship Letter
Letter typed on paper with printed letterhead to N. W. Wales for Mary Jane Richeimer
re: Scholarship checks

Date: 1949
Gift of the Gates Estate (85.70.331)

Photograph of Charity Rotch School of Kendal, c.1920
Image from Massillon Museum brochure, clipping file
Collection of the Massillon Museum




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