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Milton Hershey School Founders’ Intent Achieved Through Students and Staff

Milton and Catherine Hershey communicated their founders intentions for the Hershey Industrial School and its programming in the Deed of Trust, signed on November 15, 1909.

Deed of Trust signed in 1909 by founders Milton and Catherine Hershey

Many of their intentions for the school are still clearly evident today through educational opportunities, hands-on learning, and a stable home life for students.

“I wanted to get away from the idea of institutions and charity and compulsion, and to give as many boys as possible real homes, real comforts, education, and training, so they would be useful and happy citizens… It isn’t much unless love is thrown in—any more than a boy’s home with his own family is worth much without love. I wanted men and women who love children to care for and educate them. That was the rough plan; but I knew little about methods, and we had to experiment,” Mr. Hershey said in an interview with Liberty Magazine on Sept. 13, 1924.

Milton and Catherine Hershey, the school’s founders, did not know much about educational methods or the best way to house and raise children, but they did their homework and came up with a game plan.

Milton Hershey School founders Milton and Catherine Hershey

Milton Hershey knew to go to the experts and consulted Dr. Hastings H. Hart of the Child Helping Department at the Russell Sage Foundation, an organization established just a few years earlier for the improvement of social conditions in the United States. Dr. Hart strongly recommended that students live in “cottages” or homes, not dormitories.

The school proceeded to grow on a big scale to over 1,000 students in Milton Hershey’s lifetime and now, more than 2,000 students today. Through the years, the lives of nearly 11,000 children from lower-income families have been transformed through high-quality education and structured home life because of founders, Milton and Catherine Hershey.

Milton Hershey with MHS students

“When I started the school twenty-five years ago, I had no idea what would happen. I thought if it grew to provide for a hundred boys, it would have been a good job. I hope to see the school carry on to new heights. After a man dies, he cannot spend his money, and it has been a pleasure for me to spend mine as I have done,” Milton Hershey said in an interview with the Lebanon Semi-Weekly News on November 19, 1934.


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