Library Blog

Women of SAS - Edith Pell

Monday, March 28, 2022

It's Women's History Month and it seems only appropriate to honor the first, First Lady of St. Andrew's, Edith Minturn Bonsal Pell.  Edith arrived at St. Andrew's at the age of 27, along with her husband Walden Pell, the School's first headmaster. In this photo, she appears with her three children, Lili, Stuyve, and Missy. Edith will always be remembered as the School mother, opening her home to the boys for cookies and tea and giving them haircuts when needed.

She filled in as teacher for her husband's Sacred Studies classes. Edith entertained and opened up her home to girls that were visiting on campus for parties and dances. She was truly the School's first archivist as suggested by her three very large scrapbooks. Mrs. Pell's scrapbooks contain 30 years of the School's history; notes, memos, signs, as well as correspondence from former students. (You can look through her scrapbooks on the School's archive website).

When the Pell's retired in 1957, they left Delaware and served as missionaries in Vietnam for a few years. They retired to their home on the Elk River in Elkton, Maryland. Edith was an avid swimmer and golfer. She attended Foxcroft School and married Walden in 1928 - only one year prior to becoming the First Lady of St. Andrew's.

A former student of the School had this to say about Mrs. Pell: "Edith Pell shunned the limelight. She was a sterling catalyst in the brilliant start-up of the School - was devoted to every detail of the process. All her life she followed the early students with love, affection, and encouragement." In a piece written by Hope McGrath '01, for the Spring 2005 School magazine, Hope writes: "Yet the School's history are sadly lacking information about Edith. She left us, however, an incomparable gift in the form of her scrapbooks, which tell us so much about the School and perhaps even her role in its genesis."

St. Andrew's is truly grateful to Edith Pell, for her nurturing and caring nature. Her vision and love of the School was instrumental in making St. Andrew's the school it is today.

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