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In 1893 the Pennsylvania legislature approved funding to build a residential, industrial school designed to consolidate under one facility the thirty-year-old program for the care and education of Civil War orphans in the state. Two years later, the Pennsylvania Soldiers’ Orphans Industrial School opened on 100 acres of land in Scotland, Pennsylvania, a small village near Chambersburg and convenient to the Cumberland Valley Railway line. This article examines how the school’s mission and early history were shaped by several distinctive features, including its roots in an existing system for educating Civil War orphans, its chronic financial problems, and its lack of a single founder with a clear vision. Under the direction of a state-appointed commission, the school maintained a traditional focus on order, discipline, morality, and military structure while simultaneously seeking to employ emerging trends in industrial education and child welfare.
Pennsylvania History is the official journal of the Pennsylvania Historical Association, and copyright remains with PHA as the publisher of this journal.