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From the Archives: Anne Carey’s Leadership

"Fifty years from now — when all of you have reached your allotted three score years and ten; when every member of our Board of Trustees has gone over to the Great Majority and most of us have been long forgotten, and when, I hope, our places have been filled by members of this Association; when our great new building, fully adorned with its beautiful memorials, has been mellowed with age and is covered deep with ivy; when our beautiful park is interlaced with avenues of great oaks and maples and decorated with handsome gardens, flanked with other graceful buildings dedicated to the uses of the School; and when the lawns and playgrounds echo to the shouts of five hundred boys — you can be sure that every scrap of information which relates to the organization and early history of the School will be eagerly sought for and jealously guarded."

It was with these words that Mr. Francis King Carey began his address to the Alumni Association on December 21, 1910. The address was to commemorate the changing of the School's name from The Country School for Boys to The Gilman Country School for Boys. In his remarks, Carey briefly describes the efforts of an unnamed mother in suggesting the School to Dr. Daniel Coit Gilman. He then praised Dr. Gilman for providing guidance to the School and his leadership in the realm of education. Mr. Carey’s full remarks can be found here.

However, while Dr. Gilman was an early supporter of the School, he was not the School's founder. In fact, this telling of Gilman's history fails to name the one person who is most responsible for Gilman School's existence — Mrs. Anne Galbraith Carey.

A letter from Mr. Carey, found in the Gilman Archives, provides a more complete story and an explanation for this omission. In 1912, Mr. Carey responds to a letter from a Princeton professor researching the history of the country school movement. In his response, Mr. Carey provides the professor with a copy of his December 1910 remarks, but he also provides additional context as to the founding of Gilman School. He writes:

I was then trying to popularize the new name with the boys and laid special stress upon Dr. Gilman's valuable services in the organization of the School; and, of course, Mrs. Carey had made a point of it that I should not use her name.

But the actual fact is that the whole conception of an all-day school in the country for boys, combined with a boarding school, and designed to furnish city boys the routine of a whole day in the country so that their studies and sports alike should be under school direction, originated with Mrs. Carey and was, of course, inspired by her own insistent demand that our oldest boy, who was then only nine years of age, should have such a school to go to if possible. While I represented Mrs. Carey on the Board of Trustees and helped her in every way I could to put her views into execution, the suggestion, when she first made it to me, seemed to me impracticable; but that was due to the fact that our Baltimore private day schools, which I had attended myself as a boy, had fixed in my mind the idea of a school day be ginning at nine o'clock and ending at two or half past two, with a brief recess for a hurried lunch. As I received the subject rather coldly, Mrs. Carey, who knew Dr. and Mrs. Gilman very well, took the matter up first with Mrs. Gilman and afterwards with Dr. Gilman himself and they gave her enough encouragement to justify her in trying to go further with the project. She then interested Mrs. William Cabell Bruce, the daughter of the late Hon. William A. Fisher, who interested her husband and father in the project, and I then undertook the task of raising a fund of about twelve thousand dollars ($12,000) to try the experiment. I succeeded in this work, under daily pressure from Mrs. Carey, and, to make a long story short, after many struggles and much adversity we succeeded in establishing the school. Of course, its novelty made the resistance great but Mrs. Carey always felt that the School was organized on proper lines and that it would eventually prove its case, and the result seems to have justified her judgment not only in regard to this school but in regard to a number of others which have been modeled after it.

While Mrs. Carey has tried to keep in the background, my own feeling is that she has been too successful in doing so. So far as I am personally concerned, I deserve no credit at all because my interest in the project was entirely inspired by Mrs. Carey and my work has practically all been done under pressure from her, but it is proper that it should be recorded somewhere that Mrs. Carey was the actual originator of the country school idea on which the Gilman School and its followers are patterned, and that it was her persistent work and enthusiasm which finally brought about the foundation of the Gilman School and which kept it going during its early years. Dr. Gilman's interest in the school grew entirely out of the interest of himself and his wife in Mrs. Carey.

Of course, you will regard this letter as written to you personally and will not use it in any way. But, as I understand you are writing a history of such schools, I would be glad if you would, in speaking of the Gilman Country School, see that Mrs. Carey gets the proper credit for its origin. I will be very glad to give you any further information which you ask me for and help you in any way I can to get information from other people. Of course, I have not shown this letter to Mrs. Carey and I know that she will be indignant with me for writing it, but it is high time that she was given full credit for the country school project, whether she wants to have it or not."

Although the main building — now called Carey Hall in honor of Mrs. Carey — is not covered in the ivy that Mr. Carey envisioned, Anne Galbraith Carey is now being given the credit she is due.