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Special Collections & Archives

Details about the three repositories held at the University of Roehampton: the main Foyle Special Collections & Archives, the Whitelands College Archive, and the Southlands College Archive

Froebel Archive for Childhood Studies

The Froebel Archive for Childhood Studies was established in 1977 and focuses on Friedrich Froebel’s educational legacy, early years and elementary education. There is a rich variety of books, administrative records, staff and student registers, minutes of meetings, photograph albums and student work. All these reflect wonderfully on the history of the Froebel College and its student life. Together with the National Froeb​el Foundation Archive which has been added to the Archives and Special Collections in 2008 it comprises a unique historical record of the Froebel movement in the UK.

A number of key Froebelian texts, including the journal Child Life have been digitised and are available on our Roehampton Digital Library


Who is Friedrich Froebel?

Friedrich Froebel (1782 – 1852) is regarded as one of the most influential educationalist of the nineteenth century. His view was that the pre-school is the most important part of schooling and argued that the health and happiness if the individual, the family and the state depended on the quality of pre-school education. He invented the concept and word kindergarten and was responsible for the first training programmes for female kindergarten teachers.

Froebel created the ‘Gifts’ which are being regarded as a legacy to pre-school education. Based on his advocacy of ‘freeplay’, the ‘Gifts’ are an ordered sequence of building block as educational toys. Each gift was designed to be given to the child to provide material for self-directed activity. The aim is to help the child to learn to use the environments as an educational aid, to gain an understanding of the connection between human life and nature and to create a bond between the carer and the child when playing together.

Froebel opened his first Play and Activity Institute in 1837 which he renamed in Kindergarten in 1840. The focus of the kindergarten was:

  • toys for sedentary creative play (which Froebel called gifts and occupations)
  • games and dances for healthy activity
  • observing and nurturing plants in a garden for stimulating awareness of the natural world

National Froebel Foundation Archive

The National Froebel Foundation, now the Froebel Trust is a registered charity with the purpose to promote and support Froebelian activity at a national and international level.

The Froebel Society [for the Promotion of the Kindergarten System] was founded in 1874 in order to provide courses of training for kindergarten teachers and a recognition and inspection facility for kindergartens. In 1887 The Society created a separate body, the National Froebel Union in order to validate examinations and set standards for the Froebel Teacher's Certificate. In 1938 the two bodies were combined to form the National Froebel Foundation, which continued to perform some of the functions of its parent bodies. In 1975 the NFF was formally dissolved, though a board of Trustees continues to ensure allocation of its residual assets in accordance with its charitable objectives.

The National Froebel Foundation Archive comprises a unique historical record of the Froebel and kindergarten movement in the UK.


  • Complete set of meeting minute books and reports of the Froebel Society (FS), the National Froebel Union (NFU), National Froebel Foundation (NFF), Froebel Educational Institute (FEI) and affiliated committees from 1874 until 1974
  • Student registers – the complete set of the FS, NFU and NFF teacher certificate registers 1874 – 1962
  • Cash books
  • Lecture notebooks of Joachim Liebschner



  • Froebel’s Gifts and Occupations
  • Teaching apparatus and games by Montessori
  • Other objects relating to the history of Froebel College and Froebelianism


Books and Pamphlets

  • Froebel’s writings in English and German including first editions of Die Menschenerziehung (The Education of Man) and the Mutter- und Kose-Lieder (Mother-Play and Nursery Songs); English and German commentaries on Froebelian ideology; texts on the kindergarten movement; texts and children’s books representing the Froebel curriculum – including Nature Study, Handwork, Block Play, Art and Drawing, Music and Movement and Story-telling
  • Texts on the history and philosophy of education; texts representing distinctive approaches by other educationists, including Rousseau, Pestalozzi, McMillan, Montessori, Dewey and Steiner; historical texts on kindergarten, nursery, infant and primary education, and the history of women’s education; and key Government reports and legislation
  • Texts on child development and welfare and educational psychology – including John Bowlby, Arnold Gesell, Anna Freud, Susan Isaacs, Melanie Klein, Jean Piaget, James Sully and Donald Winnicott
  • Historical children’s literature, including chap-books, fiction, legends and fairytales and reading schemes
  • Publications of the Froebel Society and the National Froebel Foundation



  • A complete set of the Froebel Society journal Child Life and its successors the National Froebel Foundation Bulletin  and Froebel Journal
  • New Era – the journal of the New Education Fellowship, the key organisation for progressive education
  • Other journals related to education and teaching



Archives of Froebel Educational Institute (later Froebel College), founded 1892, including:

  • Records of Froebel College (1895 - 1984): minutes, reports, regulations
  • Papers relating to FEI relations with outside bodies (1933 - 1960)
  • Financial records (1898 - 1966): ledgers, cash books, fee books, salary books, accounts of scholarships and grants
  • Material relating to FEI buildings (1891 - 1990s): correspondence, financial material, legal papers, plans
  • Publicity material (1890s - 1970s): prospectuses, advertisements, press cuttings
  • Curriculum material (1894  - 1975): syllabi and course descriptions, papers relating to examinations, correspondence with NFF and Institute of Education
  • Staff and student material (1894 - 1984): staff registers, visitors books for staff and students at Grove House and Knebworth, student registers and records relating to PGCE course, the Nursery Education Course, the Diploma in Education, and the Diploma in Music
  • Material relating to student societies (1901 - 1943): FEI Natural history Club (Guild of St Francis), College trips to Keston
  • Papers of the Michaelis Guild (1896 - 1981)
  • Papers relating to the College Library (1908 - 1980s): papers of the Library Committee, account books, reports, accession registers and stock books
  • Material relating to College events (1925 - 1992)
  • Miscellaneous material relating to the history of the FEI (1892 - 1972): reminiscences of staff, students and pupils, foundations of the Roehampton Institute of higher Education, history of Grove House
  • Material relating to the Demonstration Schools of the FEI (1894 - 1992): prospectuses, fee books, student and staff registers, salary books, annual reports, minutes, financial material
  • Student work (1894 - 1970s): scrapbooks, copybooks, notebooks covering the range of subjects taught at Froebel College, handwork examples
  • Photographs (1890s - 1990s): FEI buildings and grounds, students and staff, including student activities, teaching, and College events, FEI Demonstration Schools
  • Material relating to persons associated with FEI (1884 - 1980s): Friedrich Froebel, Madame Michaelis, Esther Lawrence, Claude Montefiore, Molly Brearley


Multi-Media Materials


Other Archives of the Froebel Archive for Childhood Studies

The Froebel Archive holds a number of other collections with specific links to early childhood education and the FEI:

  • Chris Athey (1924 - 2011) Collection: research papers relating to the Froebel Early Education Project (c 1969 - 1978), papers relating to Athey's thesis on Humour
  • Elinor Goldschmied (1910 - 2009) Collection: video (c 1953 - 1992) and book material relating to her pioneering work on the Treasure Basket, Heuristic Play and Key Person approach


Further information

Froebel Useful Links - additional websites, international collections, and other related information


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