1940s-1950s

1941
High School Opens

High School Opens

LRSH purchases the 40 Charlton Street building, a former church and settlement house purchased from the Episcopal Mission Society, and opens the high school, which is posthumously named for Elisabeth Irwin in 1942.

1942
Elisabeth Irwin Letter to Students

Elisabeth Irwin Letter to Students

Elisabeth Irwin sent this very moving letter to students, written from her hospital bed weeks before her death. In the letter, she encourages the students to “Please sing the songs that we love so well so that I can hear..Read More

1942
THE LITTLE RED SCHOOL HOUSE Published

THE LITTLE RED SCHOOL HOUSE Published

Agnes Delima’s The Little Red School House is published. Contributors include Elisabeth Irwin, John Dewey, and LRSH teachers.

1942
Elisabeth Irwin Dies

Elisabeth Irwin Dies

Elisabeth Irwin dies on October 16, 1942 at New York Hospital.

1943
Dr. Randolph “Rank” Smith Becomes Director

Dr. Randolph “Rank” Smith Becomes Director

Near the entrance to 198 Bleecker Street is a small brass plaque that honors the man who led our school for 25 years between 1943 and 1968. Dr. Rank Smith, who succeeded Elisabeth Irwin, was considered by contemporaries as one..Read More

1943

Leonard Bernstein, Virgil Thomson, Pearl Bailey Perform at Benefit

Leonard Bernstein, Virgil Thomson, Pearl Bailey, and others  perform at a benefit concert at Town Hall in 1943 to raise funds for the machine shop and science laboratory for wartime courses.

1944
EI Students Get to Know their Neighbors

EI Students Get to Know their Neighbors

EI students interview journalist Celila Ventura about her Italian heritage in an effort to understand the Italian-American community just east of the school. “Instead of interviewing, I was interviewed by thirty well-behaved, friendly children,” Ventura writes. “Their questions ranged from..Read More

1945
Students Mobilize for Yugoslav Relief

Students Mobilize for Yugoslav Relief

LRSH students participated in the American Committee for Yugoslav Relief’s Winter Clothing Campaign to aid Yugoslav children in need.

1945
EI High School Song

EI High School Song

Hear Tom Hurwitz, ’65, sing the Elisabeth Irwin High School song, written by David Roland, ’48 and Alan Garb, ’47. Listen to Hurwitz’s StoryLab interview where he talks about why the song is no longer sung, and about the only..Read More

1945
Elisabeth Irwin Graduates Its First Class

Elisabeth Irwin Graduates Its First Class

Read about EISH’s early years and its first graduating class in INFO, the high school newspaper.

1945
LRSH Student Gives Speech Before State Legislature, Receives Letter from Eleanor Roosevelt

LRSH Student Gives Speech Before State Legislature, Receives Letter from Eleanor Roosevelt

Paul Coburn, a ten-year-old at LRSH, made a speech before the State Legislature, in favor of the Ives-Quinn Anti-Discrimination Bill, which would make New York the first state to enact legislation curtailing the practice of discriminating against job applicants and employees based on race, religion, or creed...Read More

1945
Democracy in the Classroom

Democracy in the Classroom

On democracy in the classroom: Of course the approach to this idea with very young children would necessarily and naturally be very different from that used with older children. … One does not use the word itself …[ b]ut one..Read More

1945
Abraham Lincoln Carries On Club

Abraham Lincoln Carries On Club

10-year old LRSH students fight to end racial bias and advocate for legislation banning discrimination in employment based on race, creed, color, and national origin by forming the Abraham Lincoln Carries On club. They wrote to Mayor Laguardia, urging him..Read More

1945
EI Students Send Christmas Boxes to European Children

EI Students Send Christmas Boxes to European Children

EI students send ninety Christmas boxes of goods to European children in need in Russia, Yugoslavia, France, and Greece.

1946
Students Visit Phelps-Dodge Strike

Students Visit Phelps-Dodge Strike

Ninth graders visit the Phelps-Dodge Strike at the Phelps-Dodge Copper Products Corporation plant in Elizabeth, NJ. The eight-month-old strike was one of the longest major industrial disputes on record in the nation, resulting in a 18.5% hourly wage increase and..Read More

1946
LRSH Action Committee

LRSH Action Committee

The Little Red School House Action Committee joined other Greenwich Village schools in a brave try at getting some of its “anti-everything neighbors” to see the “other fellow’s point of view”.  It established a Human Relations Workshop with the aim..Read More

1946
Integration in Baseball

Integration in Baseball

INFO, the school newspaper, devotes the majority of its February 1, 1946 issue to advocating for integration in baseball. INFO editors, harnessing the power of the press, write to sports writers of their day, and excerpted responses from eight journalists,..Read More

1947
Avon Long Performs at EI

Avon Long Performs at EI

Broadway star Avon Long performs at EI as part of Black History Week celebration.  

1947
Freedom of Speech in the Classroom

Freedom of Speech in the Classroom

Students in Mabel’s 9s class explore a map of the United States in the 1940s. Needless to say, this critical thinking must involve com­plete freedom of speech in the classroom. The child is not told what to think but rather..Read More

1948
Israel Drive

Israel Drive

EI held a month-long drive to aid people in Israel. The money collected was given to the United Palestine Appeal (UPA), a member of the a member agency of the United Jewish Appeal and a major fund raising agency for..Read More

1950
EI Marches with NAACP

EI Marches with NAACP

Elisabeth Irwin students marched with a delegation from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in Washington D.C. on January 16, 1950 to advocate for Congressional action on the passage of the Fair Employment Practices Commission (FEPC). EI..Read More

1951
LRSH Saved from Demolition

LRSH Saved from Demolition

LRSH is saved from demolition under Robert Moses‘ never-realized slum clearance plan despite his finding that it was “not advisable” for the school to remain standing (see letter). The threat of demolition that has hung over the Little Red School..Read More

1952
Jack Gilford and Harry Belafonte Perform at LRSH Fundraiser

Jack Gilford and Harry Belafonte Perform at LRSH Fundraiser

Third Annual Midnight Show of Stars to benefit the scholarship fund on Saturday, April 5, 1952 at the high school features Jack Gilford, Harry Belafonte and others. These annual fundraisers began at midnight and went well into the wee hours.

1952
Dr. Randolph B. Smith Defends the Bill of Rights

Dr. Randolph B. Smith Defends the Bill of Rights

Randolph Smith was called to testify on “Subversive Influence in the Educational Process” at hearings before the Committee on the Judiciary of the United States Senate in September, 1952.

1953
Sophomore Girls Visit Welfare Island

Sophomore Girls Visit Welfare Island

Three tenth grade EI students volunteer at the Metropolitan Hospital on Welfare Island. The students were members of the Councillettes of Jewish Women, an organization composed of girls from thirteen to seventeen years of age. Their job was to “keep..Read More

1954
Frank Silvera Visits EI

Frank Silvera Visits EI

As part of E.I.’s observance of Black History Week, Tony-nominated actor Frank Silvera, spoke to students about the history of Black actors in American theatre.

1954
Tribune Forum Exchange Students

Tribune Forum Exchange Students

For many years, LREI participated in the Herald Tribune Forum, which brought students to the U.S. from all over the world for a period of twelve weeks. LREI hosted students from many countries, including Kimiko Fujii from Japan, and Wentworth..Read More

1955
W.E.B. Dubois Visits

W.E.B. Dubois Visits

Dr. W.E.B. Dubois, well-known scholar, philosopher and writer, spoke to the tenth, eleventh, and twelfth grades on February 14. His topic was freedom of opinion in the United States. In a short analysis of the fight for freedom of opinion..Read More

1955
A Lasting Imprint

A Lasting Imprint

Students attend a campaign assembly in the 1950s. A focus on politics not only will help our students learn about history, geography, math, science, and language arts, but also will allow them to fashion their own political lives. It will..Read More

1955
Natural Inquisitiveness

Natural Inquisitiveness

Progressive education works with a child’s natural inquisitiveness and desire to do, to experiment and to be involved. Progressive education asks students to truly understand a topic and to demonstrate and to defend their understanding. It asks them to think..Read More

1955

Pearl Primus Visits LRSH

Pearl Primus, one of America’s greatest interpretive dancers and PhD candidate in Anthropology at Columbia University, performs at LRSH. “There is music everywhere,” she said. “Music is in the wind whistling by my ears. I hear it in the quiet..Read More

1957
EI Students Attend Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom

EI Students Attend Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom

The date was May 17, 1957. Three years ago on that date the Supreme Court of the land added a new verse to freedom’s song. “Desegregate and state to integrate” chorused the nine men in black. And now three years..Read More

1957
Getting Along

Getting Along

EI students on a field trip in 1957. Just as our little children often say at home, “We don’t learn anything, we just have fun,” we would like our older children to feel “We don’t learn about democracy, we just..Read More

1957
10s Play About Integration

10s Play About Integration

A play by the 10s about integration was performed at an assembly in 1957, and then later at the high school. Teacher Mimi Levy transcribed phrases from class discussions of integration and turned their words into the script, which was..Read More

1957
Arthur Miller (P’62, ’65) Attends EI Performance of THE CRUCIBLE

Arthur Miller (P’62, ’65) Attends EI Performance of THE CRUCIBLE

EI parent Arthur Miller, author of The Crucible, attends an EI production of his play said the following about the performance:    

1957
We Need Our Park

We Need Our Park

LRSH students make an appeal to Mayor Robert F. Wagner, explaining why building a highway through Washington Square Park would be detrimental to the community.

1958
NAACP Youth Secretary Visits EI

NAACP Youth Secretary Visits EI

Herbert Wright, NAACP Youth Secretary, speaks to the EI student council

1958

Jackie Robinson Visits EI on Behalf of NAACP

In 1958, Jackie Robinson, ambassador of the NAACP, came to LREI with Herbert Wright, Youth Leader of the NAACP, to accept a check from EI students, funds raised to support their efforts in the fight for racial justice and to..Read More

1958
Dwight Eisenhower congratulates LRSH on 25th Anniversary

Dwight Eisenhower congratulates LRSH on 25th Anniversary

Read The New York Times article from March 1, 1958 here.

1958
EI Students Attend Youth March for Integrated Schools

EI Students Attend Youth March for Integrated Schools

On Saturday, October 25, 1958, EI students traveled to Washington D.C. to attend the Youth March for Integrated Schools led by A. Philip Randolph, Jackie Robinson, Coretta Scott King, Harry Belafonte, Bayard Rustin.

1958
Prime Minister Nehru Writes to Students at LRSH

Prime Minister Nehru Writes to Students at LRSH

In 1958, LRSH students sent Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru of India letters and drawings wishing him a happy birthday. In response, he wrote: I am glad to know that you have been learning about India in your class. India is..Read More

1958
Operation Pennsylvania

Operation Pennsylvania

EI students take a week-long trip to Pennsylvania to visit Amish farms, a steel plant, and a coal mine, among other stops, to learn about the work and lives of others. Read the trip objectives and itinerary here.

1959
Lorraine Hansberry Visits Book Week

Lorraine Hansberry Visits Book Week

On November 5, 1959, Lorraine Hansberry visited students to talk about her writing, including the play A Raisin in the Sun, as part of Book Week. LREI prides itself on shrinking the distance between the schoolhouse and the “real world.”..Read More

1959
Village NAACP Organized

Village NAACP Organized

LREI Director Dr. Randolph Smith, playwright Lorraine Hansberry, and Reverend Howard Moody of Judson Memorial Church, among other prominent Village leaders, are consulted in the formation of the Greenwich Village-Chelsea Chapter of the NAACP.

%d bloggers like this: