Monday, 27 September 2010

John Wanamaker and India

Mary Wanamaker Girl 's School was established more than 100 years ago by a generous gift from a leading American businessman John Wanamaker.
Women education was almost unknown in India at that time. There were very few schools for girls . They were taught the skills of housekeeping and married off at an early age. Mission schools tutored Christian girls and those from progressive homes.
Now after more than a 100 years this school can boast of cultivating , rearing and training thousands of women of all religions, castes and economic backgrounds. Many of them are highly placed in society and have caused changes in their own spheres of life.
My mother graduated from this school and went on to pursue her Bachelor 's degree in the Isabella Thoborne College in Lucknow ( our state capital) IT College as it is known is a renowned Methodist institution of old. Princesses from royal estates studied with my mother. My mother finished her Master 's from the Allahabad University and returned to her Alma mater to teach for 37 years.

The above photograph is from the 1978-79 yearbook.In the front row my mother is seated 5th from the left. Aunt Sybil is seated 2nd , Aunt Marjorie 8th ,Aunt Virginia is seated 10th. And Aunt Maya is standing 6th in the first row. All these ladies mentioned belong to my family.Aunt Marjorie was the Headmistress of the Primary section , she was a dedicated and selfless social worker too.

This is a staff photo . The lower grade employees, clerks, cleaners, watchmen and ayahs are also included in the picture. I remember most of them from my childhood. The school was a big part of our lives although we studied in the Convent School.

Here are some pictures of the old part of the school.

My mother tells us that the Wanamaker stores used to send pencils to the students as Christmas gifts but not anymore.


It looks like an enchanted castle.


John (Nelson) Wanamaker (July 11, 1838 – December 12, 1922) was a United States merchant, religious leader, civic and political figure, considered by some to be the father of modern advertising. Wanamaker was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Wanamaker's "Grand Depot" at 13th & Market Sts.
He opened his first store in 1861, called "Oak Hall", at Sixth and Market Streets in Philadelphia, on the site of George Washington's Presidential home. Oak Hall grew substantially based on Wanamaker's then-revolutionary principle: "One price and goods returnable". In 1869, he opened his second store at 818 Chestnut Street and capitalizing on his own name (the untimely death of his brother-in-law), and growing reputation, renamed the company John Wanamaker & Co. In 1875 he purchased an abandoned railroad depot and converted it into a large store, called John Wanamaker & Co. "The Grand Depot". Wanamaker's is considered the first department store in Philadelphia.
In 1860 John Wanamaker married Mary Erringer Brown (1839–1920). They had six children (two of them died in childhood):
John Wanamaker an outstanding American businessman of the 19th century put together one of the most successful careers of his time. Whe asked what he considered the best investment he ever made, he replied"I have made large purchases of property in my lifetime involving millions of dollars. But when I was only 11 years old, I made my biggest purchase of all. From my teacher in a little mission Sunday school, I bought a small red leather Bible. It cost me $ 2.75. I paid in small installment
from my own money that I earned." John Wanamaker knew the value of the Bible and he lived by it.
The seed he sowed in India has become a large tree. You never know what great fruit your smallest act of kindness may yield.

14 Fertilize my soul:

SINCERITY said...

What a fascinating look into history and God has his fingers in it! I know about John Wanamaker because his influence was great in Philadelphia, not far from where I live.

I am so happy that his life reflected God's glory and that he obeyed the Lord in his life. You are correct. When we show kindness it speaks louder than anything we could ever say.

हेमंत कुमार ♠ Hemant Kumar said...

Amrita,
It's really very informative post about Mr John Wanamaker and his rememberable works.I belong to Allahabad,and i have seen the diseplin of Mary Wnamaker school.Because my relative's daughter was studying in that school.
And now my elder daughter is studying in B.A.final year,in Isabella Thoborne College,Lucknow.
These institutions are doing a good job in field of girls education.
Best wishes.
Hemant

Zimbabwe said...

I enjoyed this post. Really beautiful story, beautiful place and beautiful fruit of work one man, who was sent by God.

monsoon dreams said...

Amrita,
Thanks for this wonderful and informative post.the snaps took me to another world.

Dani said...

really an informative and interesting post...many great men of industry have given much back..something that isn't recognized today...

Arts&Disability said...

Women Education is critical. I am glad you have this rich heritage and legacy with your mom & aunts!
Love His Sonshine

Donetta said...

Hello,
Oh the gifts of one soul can effect so many.
Yours is like that Amrita.
Hope your having a nice week.

Amrita said...

Hello friends thank you for talking to me.

Hemant ji, I am pleasantly surprised and hapy to hear that you are an Allahabadi. I should have guessed it as Allahabadis are very talented.

My mother retired in 1992. Yes its a very reputed school and we are proud of it.

Amrita said...

Dear Sincerity thank you for your visit and commnet

Mae said...

this is a very nice story of how God can encourage us through others... thank you for posting this Amrita ... God bless your ministry always....

Sandy said...

This was so very interesting,
Amrita. I visit here often and
decided today to follow. Bless
you, sister.
Hugs,
Sandy

Amrita said...

Hi Mae, so good to hear from you. Your little one is so cute.


Dear Sandy, Scarf sister, WELCOME,
I am so happy you find my blog interesting, I am following your blog too. You have a lovely garden.

Amrita said...

Hi Monsoon Dreams, hope you are feeling better.
In today 's Hindustan Times newspaper there is a lengthy editorial by S Tharoor....quite boring .

Neha Massey said...

Hi,
Its by accident that I came across your blog. I was doing some online research on Mr. John Wanamaker and his wife Mrs. Mary Wanamaker.
I know the school as a student but more so because my mother Mrs Neerja Massey served as the Principal of the school from 1994 to 2013... Yes a long tenure. And all these years this school was our dear home as we stayed inside the Principal's House.

Honoured and blessed to be a part of its history.

Neha Massey.