Preparing Boys for Life

The Haverford School History 1891

If These Walls Could Talk: A Look at Haverford's History

By Joseph T. Cox, Ph.D., former Headmaster (1998-2013)

On March 7, 2001, Headmaster Joseph Cox gave the keynote speech at the Newcomen Society dinner honoring The Haverford School. Each year, local chapters of the non-profit group select a business or organization that exemplifies the goals of the Society, which include preserving, protecting, and promoting the American free enterprise system. As part of the honor, Newcomen published a history of The Haverford School written by James Zug '87, upon which this excerpt from Dr. Cox's speech was based.

When the Pennsylvania Railroad finished 15 miles of track from Broad Street to Paoli, many of its families moved to the fresh air and country west of the city. Among them were Alexander Cassatt, brother of painter Mary, and his wife Lois Buchanan Cassatt, niece of our 15th president, James Buchanan. They occupied the Cheswold estate right next to where we sit tonight.

Their idea and ideal was a superior education for their boys, as well as the sons of others who had moved to The Main Line. To see their dream to reality, they enlisted the help of the young Quaker Dean of Haverford College, Isaac Sharpless. The College, founded in 1833, was a struggling institution. Swarthmore, a rival Quaker college, had its own grammar school, but there was no school for the sons of the Haverford professors. When Alexander and Lois Cassatt, presented their idea, Dean Sharpless acted.

We continue to strive to realize the ideals and ideas of our founders. We aspire to be the premier boys' school in the country, one that develops the intellectual, artistic, and athletic potential of our students, and which does not forget Buck Wilson's moral admonitions. We teach Cornelius Boocock's sense of service and Leslie Severinghaus' global vision. Mr. Parker's stalwart dedication to the tradition of the liberal arts, Bo Dixon's optimism, Joe Healey's faith in the future, all combine to make the idea of a premier school for boys a reality based on the ideals of academic and moral excellence, embodied in the many fine young men who have graduated from The Haverford School.

The Haverford School Archives

The Haverford School Archives is designed to create and maintain a historical record of institutional development and community life. The Archives collects and preserves artifacts relevant to the School’s history.

The chronological scope of materials ranges from Haverford’s founding in 1884 to the present. The Archive houses institutional records, documents, publications, photographs, film, video, and audiotape.