Subseries D: Sonja M. Donahue Files,, undated
Scope and Content
The documents in the American Montessori Society (AMS) Records extend from the mid-1950s through the mid-1990s, though the bulk falls between 1960 and 1985. They encompass a variety of subjects and activities, including routine administrative and financial records, research, historical correspondence and writings, official publications, and publicity.
The early history of AMS appears in Series VI, VII, and VIII, which include Board of Directors' minutes, financial reports, articles on the Montessori movement and AMS, and correspondence among key figures in the movement and organization. These papers chronicle the founding of AMS in connection with Whitby School in Greenwich, Connecticut; the difficult relationship between AMS and the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI); and the problems AMS had to confront as it established its reputation and authority as a promoter of Montessori education. Especially important in this regard are the files of Nancy McCormick Rambusch (Series VII), the founder of AMS; this series provides historical information not only about AMS but also about the personal and professional life of Rambusch as revealed in correspondence, research, articles, and interviews.
AMS's minutes and bylaws may be found in Series I and II, respectively. Series II though is incomplete. Minutes are also included in the records found in Series IV and VI. The Administrative Files (Series III) deal with professional and operational administrative aspects of AMS and some of its committees and progrAMS. They include, among other documents, a policy statement (1963), correspondence of the Educational Advisory Committee, fundraising appeals and brochures, drafts of the AMS Management Guide, and correspondence and legal information about evaluating the credentials of foreign Montessori teacher trainees. There are also leases and maintenance correspondence for the AMS offices in New York, and personnel correspondence about insurance progrAMS for Montessori teachers.
The Mailings Scrapbooks in Series IV contain the letters, publicity, publications, and other literature generated by AMS and sent to its members and Board members during 1974-1983, affording a general overview of the society's functions and activities for that period. Series XV also contains scrapbooks of AMS's public-relations efforts as it sought to advertise its mission, and includes lists of AMS publications and materials. AMS also sought outreach through films, and the correspondence, scripts, and publicity for several film projects will be found in Series XVI.
Historical background and information on the Montessori movement and its founder will be found in Series X. Writings by and about Maria Montessori, transcripts of her historic lectures given in California in 1915, and articles about the history and evolution of the method both in general and in the United States are included; many of these papers were donated to the society by Montessori educators and supporters.
As the movement gained momentum, Montessori educators and scholars conducted and published research on a variety of relevant educational topics. The AMS office collected various papers, articles, bibliographies, and abstracts to serve as an in-house resource for Montessori scholarship, and these will be found in Series XI. Although they date largely from the 1960s and thus do not reflect the most current research, they provide a glimpse of the state of American Montessori studies at the time. Series IX contains pedagogical resources that show how Montessori education was actually conducted in the classroom, including lesson plans, outlines, and the Teacher's Manual for the 1966-1976 Teacher Training Program.
AMS published numerous journals, newsletters, and other publications, and many of these appear in Series XIV. All the titles represented contain significant gaps but still permit the reader to grasp the scope of the organization's activities and interests through the years. Non-AMS publications will be found in Series XXI, and include writings on Montessorian topics by organizations other than AMS, including AMI. Of particular interest is Mario Montessori's "yellow paper," which set forth AMI's philosophical disagreements with AMS in the early 1960s.
AMS encouraged affiliation by Montessori schools, and this topic is covered in Series XVII, which contains lists of affiliates, bylaws and administrative forms of individual schools, statistical data, and various brochures and other information regarding affiliated schools in general and also specific schools. One of the ways AMS sought to cement ties between affiliates and the national society was through the Consultation Program, the records of which are located in Series XII. They include general correspondence as well as files of individual consultants and several coordinators of the Program, and offer insights into the operations of this important group. The activities of the Comite Hispano Montessori, an association for Spanish-speaking Montessorians in North, Central, and South America as well as the Caribbean, are reflected in the correspondence, publicity, directories, and consultation reports that comprise Series XIX.
In Series XIII are located files for various national and regional seminars from 1963-1990. Registration lists, correspondence dealing with exhibitors and presenters, brochures and programs, financial reports and records, and evaluation questionnaires allow an understanding of the importance of these meetings as vehicles for fostering, maintaining, and developing aspects of the Montessori method.
AMS also interacted with organizations and concerns not directly within the Montessori orbit. Series V chronicles the relationship between AMS and government agencies, especially the Pennsylvania Department of Education, as the society sought to achieve official recognition of Montessori teacher-training methods and educational instruction. AMS's connections with other groups relevant to its interests are depicted in Series XX, which includes articles, brochures, and correspondence. Represented are day-care and home-schooling organizations, educational toy companies, and Waldorf Institutes. Series 18 is devoted to the Child Development Associate Consortium (CDAC), of which AMS eventually became a member.
Audiocassettes, audiotapes, CDs and phonograph records are located in Series XXII. The tapes and cassettes contain lectures, speeches, and workshops conducted mainly at various AMS seminars from the 1960s through the 1980s. Films and videocassettes about various aspects of the Montessori method are located in Series XXIII. Of interest is an interview with Nancy McCormick Rambusch and Cleo Monson about the beginnings of AMS, taped in 1986.
Photographs and slides are included in Series XXIV. The slides illustrate Montessori teaching activities and events, such as the Montessori Centennial Celebration in 1970. The photographs cover a wide range of professional and social activities, including seminars. Depicted are many of the individuals, including Nancy McCormick Rambusch, who are represented in the papers of the collection.
Later additions to the collection are included in subsequent series.
- From the Collection: American Montessori Society (Creator, Organization)
The collection is open and available for research.
From the Collection: 83 Linear Feet
Language of Materials
From the Collection: English