The Little Sunbeam Sewing School
Oyster Bay, 1889-1916
The school’s mission was “the instruction of girls in needlework and the endeavor to make them thoughtful of others.” Its by-laws allowed membership “without regard to religious belief,” with the stipulation that its Board of Managers maintain membership in “some Evangelical Church.” Over the span of twenty-seven years, nearly 300 students registered themselves for coursework.
The school’s founder and first Directress, Charlotte Swan, taught at the school from January 1889 until her resignation in the spring of 1912. Other early faculty included Cecile Fleet, Bella Mott, and Sarah Townsend. Edith Roosevelt served as an honorary member.
Ethel Smith, who lived at Brookside Farm on Mill River Road, attended Saturday classes from 1907 to 1910. She remembers that
after having [been] painstakingly worked on for several sessions,
A collection of model scrapbooks, entry ledgers, instructional booklets, and annual reports—all related to the school’s active history—entered the Society’s archives in 2002 through a donation by Ethel Smith Hagenbuckle.