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The Packer Collegiate Institute records

Call Number



circa 1780 to 2020, inclusive


Packer Collegiate Institute
Brooklyn Female Academy


283.6 Cubic Feet in 566 boxes, one flat file drawer, and one object
314 Gigabytes in 53 video files; running time of available interviews: 16 hours, 37 minutes, and 20 seconds.

Language of Materials

English .


The Packer Collegiate Institute records contain administrative records, financial records, architectural records, Board of Trustees records, student and faculty records, publications, photographs, audiovisual media, event ephemera, and memorabilia, dating from circa 1780 to 2016.

Historical note

The Packer Collegiate Institute was established as the Brooklyn Female Academy on Joralemon Street in the Brooklyn Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn in 1845. It was formed by a committee of local citizens who were interested in the education of young women. The school's first president was Dr. Alonzo Crittenden, who presided over a student body of 350 girls from 19 states.

The school burned down on New Years' Day, 1853, and reopened in 1854 with the assistance of a generous $65,000 gift—the largest donation to aid American secondary education at the time—from Mrs. Harriet Packer, widow of William Packer, and former trustee of the Brooklyn Female Academy. One condition of Packer's donation was her request for the dissolution of the Brooklyn Female Academy Corporation, which was to be replaced by what is today's Packer Collegiate Institute. Prominent Brooklyn architect Minard LaFever designed the Gothic Revival building, presently known as Founders Hall.

In 1883, after Crittenden's death, Truman Backus assumed the role of Packer's new president. As a result, religious studies ceased to be part of the curriculum. During this period, Packer rose to a position of national preeminence in female education. In 1887, the east wing, designed by Napoleon Le Brun, was built to house the gymnasium and science laboratories. In 1907, an Alumnae Hall was adjoined to the physical plant and the subway was constructed under Joralemon Street, which required the school to remove the observatory dome from the main building. Spanning the years 1908 to 1918, Edward Jasper Goodwin served as president and the students received letter grades for the first time.

John Denbigh succeeded Goodwin and served as president until 1938, overseeing the 1926 addition of the penthouse in Alumnae Hall. Denbigh presided over the establishment of Packer's Junior College in 1919. The school endured the financial impacts of the Great Depression, which resulted in teacher layoffs and salary cuts. In 1938 Paul Shafer became the fifth president of Packer and oversaw the Centennial celebration in 1945. During the 1950s, Packer's Junior College began awarding Associate Degrees and in 1957, Pratt Hall was added to Packer's growing complex of buildings. In 1968, President Shafer retired and Jack Skillman took over the post. In 1969, the school acquired nearby St. Ann's Church.

By 1972, the Institute experienced major changes, including the disbandment of the Junior College and the introduction of a co-ed student body. The elementary school was divided into Lower and Middle schools during this decade and Peter Esty became headmaster in 1982. Succeeding Esty was J. Geoffrey Pierson who served as the president of Packer from 1990 through 2004. Pierson oversaw the major renovation of the school's buildings and grounds, include the complete renovation of the St. Ann's Church building, which was was completed in 2003. Following Pierson's retirement, Bruce Dennis became the head of school in 2004.

Arrangement note

The records are organized into twenty-four series:

Series 1: Charters and By-laws

Series 2: Board of Trustees records

Series 3: Student administrative records

Series 4: Circulars, catalogues, and curriculum guides

Series 5: Faculty records and papers

Series 6: Administrative committees and reports

Series 7: Financial records and Annual Reports

Series 8: Student Life

Series 9: School Events

Series 10: Presidents, Headmasters, and Heads of School

Series 11: Office of Public Relations

Series 12: Development Office, Fund Raising, and Alumni records

Series 13: Yearbooks

Series 14: Architectural records

Series 15: Packer History

Series 16: Music

Series 17: Photographs

Series 18: Audio, film, and video recordings

Series 19: Instructional materials

Series 20: Junior College

Series 21: Memorabilia

Series 22: Packer family

Series 23: Miscellaneous

Series 24: Upper School History Club COVID-19 oral histories

Scope and Contents

The Packer Collegiate Institute records contain administrative records, financial records, architectural records, correspondence, student and faculty records, publications, photographs, audiovisual media, and memorabilia, dating from circa 1780 to 2016.

The records relate to the administrative and business activities of the Institute, including meeting minutes held between the Board of Trustees and other committees, annual reports from the President of Packer to the Board of Trustees, funding raising, and alumni affairs.

Student activities are well represented in the collection. Files relating to students include student publications, yearbooks, theatrical programs, scrapbooks, student notebooks, numerous photographs, and audiovisual recordings.

Overall, the records document the history of women's education in Brooklyn, New York, and the community's rich cultural heritage.



Conditions Governing Access note

Student records and personnel files are closed to researchers for 100 years from their date of creation. All other files are open to researchers without restriction.

Born digital materials are available onsite at the Othmer Library. Requests to acess born digital materials must be made at least 2 days in advance by emailing

Conditions Governing Use note

Copyright held by The Packer Collegiate Institute. All uses beyond fair use requires a licensing agreement as per Title 17 of the U.S. Copyright Law.

Photographs of individuals and records pertaining to individual students or staff cannot be reproduced for commercial purposes.

Preferred Citation

Identification of item, date (if known); The Packer Collegiate Institute records, 2014.019, Box and Folder number; Brooklyn Public Library, Center for Brooklyn History.

Location of Materials

The majority of the materials in this collection are stored offsite and advance notice is required for use. Please contact at least three weeks prior to research visit.

Immediate Source of Acquisition note

Gift of The Packer Collegiate Institute, 2014. Prior to acquisition by CBH, the collection was managed by Packer's Alumni Association and its Development Office.

Custodial History

Many items in the collection were donated by alumni to The Packer Collegiate Institute prior to acquisition by Brooklyn Historical Society. The identity of these donors has been noted in the finding aid whenever possible.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

The majority of the materials in this collection are stored offsite and advance notice is required for use. Please contact at least three weeks prior to research visit.

Related Archival Materials note

The following collections also hold material relating to The Packer Collegiate Institute:

School composition books and diaries collection (1977.348) - Contains school composition books and diaries dating from 1849 to 1901 and belonging to various Brooklyn residents, including Maggie E. Briggs (a student at The Packer Collegiate Institute).

Lillian F. Robbins certificate from the Regents of the University of the State of New York (1977.414) - Certificate issued to The Packer Collegiate Institute student in 1872.

Brooklyn schools collection (1985.054) - Includes records on over seventy Brooklyn schools, dating from 1828 to 2015.

Blackburne, Woodward, and Ottaway family papers (2013.006) - Includes the papers of Packer alumna Mary B. Woodward (1871-1943).

Henry Nagel papers (2015.004) - Includes items belong to Packer alumna Winifred Gladys Nagel Pitt, including Supplementary Reading for the Academic and Collegiate Schools booklet (1922), Class Day program (1931), the Annual Sermon to the Graduating Class (1931), clippings, photographs, and an address titled "Bender of the Twig" by school President Paul D. Schafer (1939).

Allen J. Kone collection of Brooklyn postcards (2016.014) - Contains The Packer Collegiate Institute postcards.

Jacques Cortelyou papers (ARC.025) - Includes a Report of the Treasurer of the Brooklyn Female Academy (later The Packer Collegiate Institute).

Collection processed by

Pratt Institute, School of Library and Information Science graduate students and John Zarrillo. Digital materials processed by Erica López in 2019.

About this Guide

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on 2023-08-21 11:09:21 +0000.
Using Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language: Finding aid written in English

Processing Information note

The archival processing of the collection began in fall 2004 by students from Pratt Institute, School of Library and Information Science and concluded in spring 2008. A total of 159 graduate students participated in this project expending upwards of 6,500 processing hours. They are:

LIS 625 – Fall 2004

Laurence J. Abraham, Mary Jane Nichols, Sara Roemer, Arlene Sherman Rapchik, Paul Silverman, Jonathan D. Tanner, Brian Baer, Diana J. Bertolini, Caley B. Cannon, Joshua B. Chodakowsky, Jessica T. Cline, Corrinne A.Collett, Daniel B. Eshlom, Andrew Farrell, Lierah A. Golomb, Camille R. Meyer, Rebecca D. Newton

LIS 625 –Spring 2005

Brendan Allen, Kira J. Appel, Dawn A. Archer, Christina R. Benson, Jillian Cuellar, Heather C. Davis, Jaime L. Haire, Galia Halpern, Jack Kormos, Emily Lan Zara, Hwasuk Lim, Kelly McAnnaney, Arezou Mohseni, Tanya Puccinni, Torie Quinomez, Stephanie Rasmussen, Lisa Ryan, Danielle Serra, Mahranie Sewbhajan, Andrea Young

LIS 625 – Fall 2005

Andrew Taylor, Cesar Garza, David Clephane, Eden Picazo, Elizabeth Crownfiled, Ellen Bahr, Irene Pantazis, Jefferson De Jesus, Lacy Schutz, Liz Larson, Nikki Taher, Patricia Glowinski, Quinn Lai, Rachel Conrad, Sheila Silagyi, Stuart Ian Slutsky, Tiffany Tyau-Wong, William Jacobs, Wilma Rosa

LIS 625 – Spring 2006

James R. Adler, Lisa Castrogiovanni, David S. Conners, Mary I. Cox, Rebecca Custis, Lauren Ford, Leng L. Hong, Alan K. Houston, Kris T. Kamikawa, Patricia Y. Kim, Lorraine R. Klein, Andrew B. Lanset, Julie T. Le, Carrie B. Levinson, Laena McCarthy, Susannah McDonald, Olivia Morales, Amanda Raab, Tiffany Schureman, Judy Stribling, Susannah L. Thurlow

LIS 625-1 – Fall 2006

Rebecca Austin, Phillip Bond, Jessica Breiman, IIlya Bronstin, Kelly Chatain, Eric Cohen, Maura Funchion, Rebecca Gordon, Geraldine Hallman, Regina Houghteling, William Johnson, Tomasz Kalata, Tara Kehoe, Julie May, Alison Nixon, Vanessa Norton, Sange Ae Park, Terez Rivera, Dyani Scheuerman, Erin Scime, Jed Winkour

LIS 625 – Spring 2007

Desiree Alden, Julia Altieri, Samantha Brauer, Rebecca Dean, Laura Fisher, Andrea Hollowell, William Johnson, Michelle Karell, Kristin Lagerquist, Mary Leggiero, Daniel Matarazzo, Elyse Newman, Jeanette O'Keefe, David O'Neill, Sativa Peterson, Jessica Rawlings, Jason Scott, Lindsay Turley, Kendra Tyson, Christopher Walunas, Denise Waxman, Lynley Wheaton, K. Hinkle

LIS 625 – Fall, 2007

Arielle Mark, Beth Halliday, Brett Dion-Krodel, Cynthia Brenwall, Drew Berner, Elizabeth Lizan, James Dye, Jessica Lingel, Jessica Spears, Katrina Denney, Lesley Espenship, Luca Buresch, Luis Munoz, Melissa Bowling, Susan Malsbury, Susan Schnitzer, Todd E. Sender

LIS 625 – Spring, 2008

Zaakea Al-Barati, Frances Athias, Amber Billey, Katie Blumenkrantz, Jessica Brooks, Christopher Collette, Michelle Farella, Robert Hansen, Jennifer Lim, Sadie Massa, Dustin Moore, Marisa Morigi, Michelle Murphy, Cathy Nassani, Nick Patterson, Jennifer Phoenix, Elisa Rugarcia, Nelson Salazar, Morgen Stevens-Garmon, Amanda Sullivan, Kyle Triplett, Nicholas J. Van Dorn

The records were donated to Brooklyn Historical Society (BHS) in 2014. In June 2015, BHS archivist John Zarrillo, assisted by Stephanie Coy, prepared the collection for transfer from Packer Collegiate Institute to BHS. This process included the consolidation of the collection from 445 boxes to 388 boxes. The collection's arrangement and description remained largely unchanged, although adjustments were made in certain areas to aid researchers. The finding aid and container list was converted from a Word document to an EAD XML file and imported into Archivists' Toolkit in July 2015.

In September 2015, John Zarrillo commenced processing approximately 80 cubic feet of records that remained on-site at Packer. This work was completed with the assistance of Katie Bednark and Laurin Paradise. Subsequently the arrangement and description of the collection was completely revised by the BHS archivist in June 2016.

In January 2017, the Packer Collegiate Institute collection (ARC.130), which was comprised of accessions 1985.061 and 1987.016, was incorporated into the Packer Collegiate Institute records (2014.019) by John Zarrillo. These materials include assorted catalogs, publications, and other ephemera. The provenance of those files is as follows: Portions of accession 1985.061 were the gifts of Katharine B. Cronkhite, 1960; Mrs. Joseph Keppler, 1966; Katherine W. Sawford, date unknown; and the Packer Collegiate Institute, date unknown. Remaining materials from this accession were acquired sometime prior to 1985. Accession 1987.016 was the gift of Georgia Giddings, 1987.

The majority of audiovisual material in this collection was digitized during 2019-2020. Material that was not included in the scope of the digitization project included close duplicates, unidentified B-roll, and items that were determined to have degraded beyond the point of successful transfer.

Born-digital material in this collection was donated on two 3 1/2 inch floopy disks, thirteen CDs, and twenty-five DVDs. The disks were imaged using Bitcurator-2.0.14. No viruses or personally identifying information was identified during imaging. The finding aid was updated to reflect newly imaged material. In instances when other copies of the content had previously been digitized (largely from MiniDVs), these items were not updated. A small number of disks were not able to imaged successfully (IDs 2014_019_media_007, 2014_019_media_014c, 2014_019_media_017i, 2014_019_media_017j, 2014_019_media_021.


Brooklyn Historical Society
Center for Brooklyn History
128 Pierrepont Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201