Guide to the Collection

Restrictions on Access

The bulk of the Eliot School records (except for the oversize items) is stored offsite and must be requested at least two business days in advance via Portal1791. Researchers needing more than six items from offsite storage should provide additional advance notice. If you have questions about requesting materials from offsite storage, please contact the reference desk at 617-646-0532 or

Collection Summary


This collection consists of the records of the Eliot School of Fine and Applied Arts, 1681-2022, pertaining to the evolution of the school from a primary school to a high school, technical school, and finally a school of fine and applied arts.

Historical Sketch

In 1642, a new Massachusetts law required every parent, as well as every master of an apprentice, to ensure that their children learn to read and write. A 1647 law required towns consisting of 50 or more families to hire a schoolmaster to educate the children of the town in reading and writing. These laws were subsequently enforced in 1675, when the General Court of Massachusetts created a new class of government officials charged with inspecting families to make sure they obeyed the education laws.

On 2 October 1676, 38 residents of Jamaica Plain (also called Pond Plain) pledged to pay various sums, from one shilling to two pounds, annually for 12 years for support of a school. The sums totaled 14 pounds and 11 shillings to be paid yearly in corn, "half Indian and the other half English, at the current price amongst us," on or before the 25th day of March. Before the end of that year, several residents gave land to fund the school. John Ruggles gave the triangular piece of land in front of the Unitarian Church where the Soldiers' Monument now stands. Hugh Thomas and his wife Clement gave their house, orchard, lot, and night pasture to the school on the condition that the residents would care for them as they got older. Others also donated smaller pieces of land.

The most significant donor was the Rev. John Eliot, for whom Eliot Street and Eliot Hall are also named. The minister to Native Americans gave 75 acres of land to the school in 1689. He wrote that the proceeds were to be used "for teaching and instructing of the children of that end of town (together with such Negroes or Indians as may or shall come to said school)..." Eliot said the purpose of the school was "to remove the inconvenience of ignorance."

The Eliot School has had four different locations. First, it was located in two different buildings in the area where the Soldiers' Monument now stands. In 1787, the school was moved from its original location to the corner of Centre and Green Streets. In 1832, it moved to the building at 24 Eliot Street next to the Unitarian Church where it is today. In 1840, it became a high school, when the trustees partnered with the West Roxbury School Committee, with the genders separated into different departments.

In 1855, the Girls' Department, which was very popular, was moved to Village Hall where the city parking lot is behind Blanchard's. In 1858, the Boys' Department moved there, as well, and the building at 24 Eliot Street was leased to the town for use as a primary school. In 1868, the Eliot High School moved to a new building on Elm Street on the site currently occupied by the old Jamaica Plain High School building. When the town of West Roxbury was annexed to the City of Boston in 1874, the trustees of the Eliot School terminated their connection to the high school and moved back to 24 Eliot Street.

In the 1870s and 1880s, the Eliot School began its "manual training" era. Gradually, classes like drawing, painting, sewing, and cooking were added. Stenography and typewriting were offered in 1887. The Eliot School provided these classes to public school students living in the area.

In 1905, the Eliot School's stated purpose was to "satisfy that instinctive desire of human beings to create," and they maintain that mission today through classes led by professional artists and master craftspeople in fine and applied arts to adults and children.


Sandra Storey, "Eliot School in Session Here Since 1676," Jamaica Plain Gazette: 21 Jan. 2005.

Charles Fox, "A Brief History of the Eliot School," Newsletter of the Eliot School, Vol. 1, n.d.

Collection Description

The Eliot School of Fine and Applied Arts records consist of seven record cartons, five document boxes, and three oversize boxes that span the years 1681-2022, with the bulk between 1880-1960. The collection is divided into six series: Land records, Administrative records, Financial records, School materials, Oversize documents, and Additions.

The records of the Eliot School reflect the evolution of trends in education that lead the school from its original use as a primary school for local settlers, an academic high school, a technical school, and finally a school of fine and applied arts. The bulk of the collection consists of the administrative and financial records of the Eliot School, including annual reports written by directors, teachers, treasurers, and accountants; meeting minutes of the proprietors of the school and the trustees of the board; correspondence and other papers retained by the director of the school; and loose and bound accounts, bills, and receipts kept by the treasurer.

In addition to the administrative and financial papers, the collection also includes land records that document the early acquisition of school land. The residents in the community donated land in order to establish the local primary school. The land was leased, rented, and partitioned into buildable lots and sold in order to fund the construction, operation, and maintenance of the school. Of special interest is a subseries of land records that were purchased in 1932 from an antiquarian book dealer, who had found them in a Boston bookshop.

Finally, the collection includes materials created and used by the teachers of the school; drawings and other artwork created by the students; and catalogs, invitations, and other Eliot School printed ephemera.

Acquisition Information

Deposited by the Eliot School of Fine and Applied Arts in December 2003 and July 2022.

Restrictions on Access

The bulk of the Eliot School records (except for the oversize items) is stored offsite and must be requested at least two business days in advance via Portal1791. Researchers needing more than six items from offsite storage should provide additional advance notice. If you have questions about requesting materials from offsite storage, please contact the reference desk at 617-646-0532 or

Detailed Description of the Collection

I. Land records, 1689-1932

This series contains early land records of the Eliot School, including deeds, leases, indentures, rent rolls, and plot plans that document the acquisition and maintenance of school land.

See also Series I.B. Legal documents and Series VI.D. History.

A. Founding documents, 1715-1932

Arranged chronologically.

This subseries contains Eliot School records, dated 1715-1837, that were purchased from an antiquarian bookseller in 1932, including primarily leases and deeds. Also included is correspondence pertaining to the purchase and a list of the documents.

Carton 1Folder 1-16SH 17EN 4

B. Legal documents, 1689-1877

Arranged chronologically.

See also Series I.A. Land records and Series V. Oversize.

Carton 1Folder 17SH 17EN 4
Eliot to Weld deed, 1689 (copy)
Carton 1Folder 18SH 17EN 4
John Watson deed, 1693
Carton 1Folder 19SH 17EN 4
Indenture, 1714
Carton 1Folder 20SH 17EN 4
Court order to amend the original trust, 1727
Carton 1Folder 21SH 17EN 4
Capt. Loring lease, 1760
Carton 1Folder 22SH 17EN 4
Indentures, 1769
Carton 1Folder 23SH 17EN 4
Leases, 1769-1772
Carton 1Folder 24SH 17EN 4
Indentures, 1785-1795
Carton 1Folder 25SH 17EN 4
Mortgage, 1821
Carton 1SH 17EN 4Folder 26
Rent rolls, 1821-1829
Carton 1Folder 27-28SH 17EN 4
Deeds, 1821-1866
Carton 1Folder 29SH 17EN 4
List of quit claim deeds, 1822-1851
Carton 1Folder 30SH 17EN 4
Lease, 1826
Box OS 3Folder 7
Rent rolls, 1836-1843

NOTE: The contents of Folder 31 have been removed to Box OS 3.

Carton 1Folder 32SH 17EN 4
Deeds, 1842-1844
Carton 1Folder 33SH 17EN 4
Mortgage and deeds, 1871-1873
Carton 1Folder 34SH 17EN 4
Indenture, 1877

C. Plot plans, 1769-1835

Carton 1Folder 35-37SH 17EN 4

D. Petitions and requests, 1821-1822

Carton 1Folder 38-40SH 17EN 4

E. Miscellaneous land documents, 1792-1851

Carton 1Folder 41SH 17EN 4
Reports concerning wood sold, 1792-1798
Carton 1Folder 42SH 17EN 4
Act pertaining to the Eliot School in Roxbury, 1804
Carton 1Folder 43SH 17EN 4
Village Hall Association, 1837-1851
Carton 1Folder 44SH 17EN 4
Back Bay Park, 1877

II. Administrative records, ca. 1716-1978

A. Annual reports, 1897-1978

Arranged chronologically.

This subseries contains annual reports written by the directors (also called superintendents) to the board of trustees of the Eliot School from 1897-1978. The reports include a summary of the year's activities, comments on classes and instructors' duties, and financial status of the school as reported by the treasurer.

See also Series II.C. Directors' records, Series III. Financial records, and Series VI.A. Administrative records.

Carton 1Folder 45-55SH 17EN 4
Loose, 1897-1978
Carton 5Vol. 1SH 17EQ 7
"Permanent Records of the Eliot School," 1899-1918

B. Meeting minutes, 1804-1966

Arranged chronologically.

This subseries contains bound volumes of minutes kept during annual meetings of the proprietors of the Eliot School and annual and special meetings of the trustees of the board of the Eliot School. Meeting minutes, primarily kept by the secretaries of the board, include votes and resolutions on board, director, and teaching positions; reviews of the directors and treasurers reports; records of decisions made about the school; and other topics pertaining to the management of the school. Some meeting minutes include copies of the directors', teachers', and treasurers' reports.

See also Series II.A. Annual reports, Series II.C. Directors' records, Series III.B. Treasurers' statements, and Series VI.A. Administrative records.

Carton 5Vol. 2SH 17EQ 7
"Notes from Annual Meetings, 1804-1866"
Carton 5Vol. 3SH 17EQ 7
"Minutes of Meetings," 1866-1906
Carton 5Vol. 4SH 17EQ 7
"Records," 1907-1945
Carton 5Vol. 5SH 17EQ 7
"Eliot School Minutes," 1945-1966

C. Directors' records, 1779-1948

Arranged chronologically.

This subseries contains the administrative records kept by the directors of the Eliot School from 1779-1948, including annual class reports written by the teachers to the director, correspondence written and received, and other related documents. The subseries also includes some correspondence written and received by members of the Eliot School board.

See also Series VI.A. Administrative records.

Carton 1SH 17EN 4Folder 56-77
Carton 2SH 17F2 RFolder 1-7

D. Charter and by-laws (from the original created in 1804), ca. 1933

Carton 2SH 17F2 RFolder 8-9

III. Financial records, 1701-1972

This series contains financial records created and retained by Eliot School treasurers, directors, and accountants from 1701-1972. The series include loose accounts and account books from 1716-1972, treasurers' statements from 1926-1943, audits and accountants' reports from 1846-1972, property assessments from 1898-1906, tax statements from 1956-1972, and bills, receipts, and accounts paid from 1701-1940.

See also Series VI.B. Financial records.

A. Treasurers' accounts, 1716-1972

Loose, 1804-1972

Carton 2Folder 10SH 17F2 R
Carton 2Folder 11SH 17F2 R
Carton 2Folder 12-20SH 17F2 R
Cash, 1951-1971
Carton 2Folder 21SH 17F2 R
General Fund, 1951-1959
Carton 2Folder 22SH 17F2 R
Stocks, 1951-1970
Carton 2Folder 23SH 17F2 R
Savings Bank and enrollment fees, 1951-1966
Carton 2Folder 24SH 17F2 R
Bonds, 1953-1971
Carton 2Folder 25SH 17F2 R
Salaries, 1951-1971
Carton 2Folder 26SH 17F2 R
Payroll, 1954-1971
Carton 2Folder 27SH 17F2 R
Income, 1951-1972
Carton 2Folder 28SH 17F2 R
Expenses, 1951-1971
Carton 2Folder 29SH 17F2 R
Journal, 1951-1969

Bound, 1716-1951

Carton 5Vol. 6SH 17EQ 7
"Treasurers account, 1716-1804"
Carton 5Vol. 7SH 17EQ 7
"Treasurers book, 1760-1853"
Carton 6Vol. 1SH 17F1 Q
"Brewer fund," 1824-1846
Carton 6Vol. 2SH 17F1 Q
"Treasurers account book, 1837-1850"
Carton 6Vol. 3SH 17F1 Q
"Treasurers accounts, 1850-1882"
Carton 6Vol. 4SH 17F1 Q
"Invoice," 1895-1902
Carton 6Vol. 5SH 17F1 Q
"Account book, 1900-1923"
Carton 6Vol. 6SH 17F1 Q
"Treasurers account, 1906-1948"
Carton 6Vol. 7SH 17F1 Q
"Income and expenses, 1913-1943"
Carton 6Vol. 8SH 17F1 Q
"Records of the treasurer, 1923-1951"
Carton 6Vol. 9SH 17F1 Q
"Cash, 1923-1951"

B. Treasurers' statements, 1926-1943

Carton 2Folder 30SH 17F2 R

C. Accountants' reports, 1846-1972

Carton 2Folder 31SH 17F2 R
Annual audits, 1846-1865
Carton 2Folder 32-43SH 17F2 R
Annual "Report and Accounts," 1915-1972

D. Tax statements, 1950-1972

Carton 2Folder 44-45SH 17F2 R
Federal, 1950-1962
Carton 3Folder 1-2SH 17EP 6
Federal, 1963-1972
Carton 3Folder 3-4SH 17EP 6
State, 1959-1968

E. Property assessments, 1898-1906

Carton 3Folder 5-6SH 17EP 6

F. Bills, receipts, and invoices, 1701-1940

Carton 3Folder 7SH 17EP 6
Receipt, 1701
Carton 3Folder 8-9SH 17EP 6
Accounts paid, 1760-1790
Carton 3Folder 10SH 17EP 6
Receipts, 1800-1803
Carton 3Folder 11SH 17EP 6
Receipts, 1808-1811
Carton 3Folder 12-19SH 17EP 6
Receipts, 1819-1832
Carton 3Folder 20SH 17EP 6
Bills and receipts, 1837
Carton 3Folder 21SH 17EP 6
Receipts, 1844-1845
Carton 3Folder 22SH 17EP 6
Receipts, 1875-1876
Carton 3Folder 23SH 17EP 6
Receipts, 1887
Carton 3Folder 24-35SH 17EP 6
Bills and receipts, 1894-1902
Carton 4Folder 1-12SH 17EZ G
Bills and receipts, 1903-1909
Carton 4Folder 13SH 17EZ G
Summary of bills, 1921-1940

G. Miscellaneous financial documents, 1899-1969

Carton 4Folder 14SH 17EZ G
Balance book, 1899-1901
Carton 4Folder 15SH 17EZ G
Deposit slips, 1967-1969

IV. School materials, ca. 1877-1993

This series contains materials used and created during various classes held at the Eliot School from ca. 1877-1968. Materials pertaining to woodworking, mechanical drawing, and sewing include lesson plans, handouts, textbooks and handbooks, and student folders. This series also contains 20th-century Eliot School printed ephemera, including course catalogs, enrollment cards, invitations to events, and note cards, among other ephemera.

See also Series II.C. Directors' records and Series VI.C. School materials.

A. Teachers' materials, 1877-1968

Lesson plans, 1905

Carton 4Folder 16SH 17EZ G
Woodworking, undated
Carton 4Folder 17SH 17EZ G
Mechanical drawing, 1905
Carton 4Folder 18-19SH 17EZ G
Handouts, undated

Textbooks and handbooks, 1877-1968

Carton 7Vol. 1SH 17ER 8
Catalog of Gorham Bronze tablets, undated
Carton 7Vol. 2SH 17ER 8
Contents listing of "Furniture Treasury," undated
Carton 7Vol. 3SH 17ER 8
Furniture catalog, undated
Carton 6Vol. 10SH 17F1Q
Pronouncing Dictionary of Biography and Mythology, 1873
Carton 7Vol. 23SH 17ER 8
The Holy Bible, 1874
Carton 7Vol. 4SH 17ER 8
Essentials of English Grammar, 1877
Carton 7Vol. 5SH 17ER 8
Hapgoods School Needlework, 1893
Carton 7Vol. 6SH 17ER 8
Details of Building Construction, 1899
Carton 7Vol. 7SH 17ER 8
Architectural Drawing Plates, 1904
Carton 7Vol. 8SH 17ER 8
Pamphlet of woodworking projects, 1907
Carton 7Vol. 9-19SH 17ER 8
Manual Training Magazine, 1914-1918
Carton 7Vol. 20SH 17ER 8
A New Art of Embroidery, 1949
Carton 7Vol. 21SH 17ER 8
Dress making books, 1958 and 1961
Carton 7Vol. 22SH 17ER 8
Catalog of tools, 1968

B. Student woodworking folders, undated

Carton 4Folder 20SH 17EZ G

C. Printed ephemera, 1901-1993

Course calenders, 1914-1993

Carton 4Folder 21SH 17EZ G
Carton 4Folder 22SH 17EZ G
Carton 4Folder 23SH 17EZ G
Carton 4Folder 24SH 17EZ G
Carton 4Folder 25SH 17EZ G
Carton 4Folder 26SH 17EZ G
Carton 4Folder 27SH 17EZ G
1961, 1975, and 1978
Carton 4Folder 28SH 17EZ G
Carton 4Folder 29SH 17EZ G
Carton 4Folder 30SH 17EZ G
1984 and 1993
Carton 4Folder 31SH 17EZ G
Enrollment and registration cards, 1912-1920 and 1936
Carton 4Folder 32SH 17EZ G
Exhibit invitations, 1910-1978
Carton 4Folder 33SH 17EZ G
Historical sketch of the town of South Natick, 1901
Carton 4Folder 34SH 17EZ G
Eliot school note cards, undated
Carton 4Folder 35SH 17EZ G
Class gift certificates (blank), undated
Carton 4Folder 36SH 17EZ G
Diplomas (blank), undated
Carton 4Folder 37-38SH 17EZ G
Clippings, 1910-1936

V. Oversize documents, 1810-1927

This series contains oversize pen-and-ink drawings of student woodworking projects and household items mounted on cardboard, various architectural drawings and plans for the Eliot School from 1891-1927, and other miscellaneous oversize items.

Box OS 1
Pen-and-ink drawings of student woodcarving projects, undated
Box OS 2Folder 1-22
Pen-and-ink drawings of student woodcarving projects and household items, undated
Box OS 2Folder 23
Eliot School architectural drawings, 1891
Box OS 2Folder 24
Eliot School architectural drawings, 1907
Box OS 2Folder 25
Eliot School blueprints, 1907
Box OS 2Folder 26
Eliot School "Additions" architectural drawings, 1927
Box OS 3Folder 1
Catalog of carved wood ornaments, undated
Box OS 3Folder 2
Ink print of the Eliot School, undated

See also Series IV.C. Printed ephemera.

Box OS 3Folder 3
Pen-and-pencil sketches of woodworking projects and household items, undated
Box OS 3Folder 4
Crayon sketches of woodworking projects signed by "Scott," undated
Box OS 3Folder 5
Oversize clipping, 1905
Box OS 3Folder 6
Bound plot plans entitled, "Roxbury Third Parish School Lands," 1810-1878

VI. Additions, 1689-2022

A. Administrative records, 1750-2022

This subseries contains administrative records of the Eliot School. Superintendent and director reports to the board of trustees record decisions made for the management of the school, staffing reports, grant applications, financial needs, programming, events, publicity, and other news of note. Meeting minutes of the board of trustees include votes and resolutions on board, director, and teaching positions; reviews of the directors' and treasurers' reports; records of decisions made about the school; and other topics pertaining to the management of the school. The meeting minutes notebook was kept by predecessors of the Board and Trustees and includes some financial accounting.

See also Series II. Administrative records.

Box 1Folder 1-9SH 1ASS
Superintendents' reports, 1980-1998
Box 1Folder 10-33SH 1ASS
Directors' reports, 1992-2020
Box 2Folder 1SH 1AST
Annual reports, 2017-2020
Box 2Folder 2Vol. 23SH 1AST
Board of trustees' meeting minutes notebook, 1750-1832
Box 2Folder 3SH 1AST
Board of trustees' meeting minutes notebook, loose items removed, ca. 1843
Box 2Folder 4-27SH 1AST
Board of Trustees' meeting minutes, 1984-2021
Box 3Folder 1SH 1ASU
Articles of incorporation, 1803, 1979, 1993 (copies)
Box 3Folder 2-4SH 1ASU
By-laws and policies, 2010-2022
Box 3Folder 5-8SH 1ASU
Publicity, 1859-2021

B. Financial records, 1982-2021

See also Series III. Financial records.

Box 3Folder 9-22SH 1ASU
Financial statements, 1982-2021
Box 3Folder 23-29SH 1ASU
Budget reports, 1992-2021

C. School material, 1982-2021

This subseries contains materials related to school courses and additional programming and initiatives the school participated in. Printed ephemera includes course schedules and sessions, festivals, and exhibits, including artist-in-residence booklets.

See also Series IV. School materials.

Box 4Folder 1-16SH 1ASV
Course catalogs, 1905-2020, includes copies
Box 4Folder 17-19SH 1ASV
Fundraising appeals, 1998-2015
Box 5Folder 1-4SH 1ASW
Fundraising appeals, 2016-2020, undated
Box 5Folder 2-10SH 1ASW
Printed ephemera, 1993-2021, undated

D. History, 1689-2021

This subseries includes the historical sketch of the Eliot School compiled by trustee David Friedman. Other documents included consist of research material used by Friedman.

See also Series I. Land records.

Box 5Folder 11SH 1ASW
Historical sketch by David Friedman, 2011
Box 5Folder 12SH 1ASW
Printed school histories, 1905, 1922, 1940, includes copies
Box 5Folder 14-16SH 1ASW
Land records, 1689-1849 (copies)
Box 5Folder 17SH 1ASW
Eliot School Course of Manual Training, July 1892 (copy)
Box 5Folder 18SH 1ASW
School Architecture by Henry Barnard, 1970 (copy)
Box 5Folder 19SH 1ASW
School Houses by Henry Barnard, undated (copy)
Box 5Folder 20SH 1ASW
"Eliot School History from 1874" talk by Charlie Fox, undated

Materials Removed from the Collection

Photographs from this collection have been removed to the MHS Photo Archives.

Preferred Citation

The Eliot School of Applied Arts records, Massachusetts Historical Society.

Access Terms

This collection is indexed under the following headings in ABIGAIL, the online catalog of the Massachusetts Historical Society. Researchers desiring materials about related persons, organizations, or subjects should search the catalog using these headings.


The Eliot School of Fine and Applied Arts.


Art--Study and teaching.
Education--Massachusetts--Boston--Jamaica Plain.
Jamaica Plain (Boston, Mass.)--Schools.
Public schools--Massachusetts--Boston--Jamaica Plain.
Real property--Massachusetts--Boston--Jamaica Plain.
Students--Massachusetts--Boston--Jamaica Plain.