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School History

The Department of School History and MHS Heritage Center at Kinderhaus is the “family attic” for our students and keeper of the institutional memory of Milton Hershey School.

Mission Statement

The mission of the Department of School History is to provide all members of the MHS community with an opportunity to learn about the history of their school as well as the values practiced by Milton and Catherine Hershey.  The Department of School History serves the MHS community by preserving the past, capturing the present, and preparing for the future and supports student success by providing educational programming aimed primarily toward students and staff  (including houseparents, teachers, and administrators), but appropriate for alumni, retirees, and the general public.

School History

 “Business is a matter of human service.” — A quote that Mr. Milton Hershey hung on his desk. 


 About the Milton Hershey School
1909: A dream and a vision, realized

Milton Hershey School began as a dream and vision shared by chocolate magnate Milton S. Hershey and his wife, Catherine (Kitty).

Arkansas_Hot_Springs_Milton_Kitty_1901_1Unable to have children of their own, the Hersheys decided to use their wealth to create a home and school for orphaned boys as outlined in their Deed of Trust.

Established on November 15, 1909, the first students of what was then called the Hershey Industrial School lived and attended classes in The Homestead, the rural birthplace of Milton Hershey.

Here they were provided with a stable home life and a rigorous combination of agricultural, vocational, and academic learning.

In 1910, the first ten students came to the School.  In 1918, three years after the untimely death of his wife, Milton Hershey gave his entire personal fortune to the School.  He continued to be involved with the School and its students until his own death at the age of eighty-eight on October 13, 1945.

“Now I am more interested than ever in maintaining and improving the morale and efficiency of all my companies. I want to devote the rest of my life to that end, for the school.”  — Milton Hershey, April 1924

Today, Milton Hershey School continues the tradition of preparing students to lead productive and fulfilling lives by providing a cost-free, private, coeducational home and school for children from families of low income.

The legacy and vision of Milton and Catherine Hershey lives on in the thousands of students and alumni touched by the generosity of the Hersheys every day.


How You Can Help Preserve Our History

Memories and documented records are important to our students and vital to the heritage and future of the School as a whole.  Mr. Hershey created the archives in 1934 when he personally requested the School Librarian to begin keeping items important to the School’s history.

If you have items that may be important to the history of MHS, The Department of School History shall accept such materials on a case-by-case basis.  The Department shall provide proper documentation to the donor, including a receipt and/or gift agreement.  Every effort shall be made to record the history and provenance of the donation.

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“I wanted to give as many boys as possible real homes, real comforts, education, and training, so they would be useful and happy citizens.” — Milton Hershey, September 1924


Procedures – Research Service

A.   Individuals interested in conducting research on or about Milton Hershey School may be asked to submit a written proposal to an internal MHS Institutional Review Board (IRB) describing the purpose and methodology of their research as well as how the information is to be used before proceeding.

B.   In keeping with generally accepted archival practices, archival materials are restricted to on-site use only.  Users, without exception, are not permitted to borrow materials or to take materials off-site. 

C.   The Department encourages requests and visits from both  School Researchers  and  Guest Researchers  in accordance with guidelines and protocols developed in consultation with the MHS Office of General Counsel.  The Department reserves the right to determine and/or limit and/or refuse access to any photograph, document, or other archival image or collection on a case-by-case basis at the discretion of the Director of School History and, if necessary, in consultation with the Office of General Counsel.

D.  A School Researcher is any individual associated with the School as a currently enrolled student or currently employed faculty, staff, or administrator.  A Guest Researcher is any individual not currently associated with the School.  This category includes alumni and retirees as well as individuals with no previous association with the School. 

E.   Our preferred method of research is in person; however, staff will respond to brief research queries on behalf of researchers unable to visit.  The Department reserves the right to refuse any request deemed to require an unreasonable amount of staff time to complete.   While School Researchers are given primary consideration, every effort is made to accommodate the needs of alumni and retiree guest researchers before those not associated with the School.  Alumni and retirees are not charged for time and/or materials used in conducting research unless undue burden is placed on staff, an excessive amount of materials are used in conducting research, or previous arrangements have been made.


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