[Salem, Germany]: [Schule Schloss Salem], . Square album, measuring 12 x 12 inches: . Original vellum spine, heavy handmade paper boards titled in black, bound with decorative gold ribbon. Text block partially printed, with gaps for mounted illustrations. 49 original black-and-white photographs of varying sizes and two manuscript schedules mounted throughout text. Expert reinforcement to spine, some leaves rippled under the weight of mounted photographs.
Deluxe handmade album produced for distribution to potential American supporters of the Schule Schloss Salem in Germany, the progressive co-educational boarding school that provided a working model of “experiential education.” Founded in 1920 by educator Kurt Hahn with the backing of Prince Maximilian of Baden, the Salem School was a laboratory for modern hands-on learning. Students took classes in the morning and spent the rest of the day engaged in farm labor, trade apprenticeships, artistic pursuits, outdoor exercise, and community service. The school emphasized the development of character over academic and athletic competition, and pointedly included children of all social classes. While the school would eventually become one of the most elite in Europe, with royal students including Prince Philip, Prince Maximilian’s death in 1929 was a grave blow. Salem was an underfunded, precarious experiment in need of wealthy patrons. To that end, Kurt Hahn produced this substantial album for potential American donors, outlining Salem’s educational philosophy, and emphasizing its democratic, egalitarian nature. He includes dozens of documentary photographs of students at work and play: skiing and dancing, practicing archery and drama, caring for animals, rowing on the Bodensee. There is also an account of a Dreadnought-like hoax played on “an old Salem boy who had studied in Cambridge,” involving a fake “Hindoo” and policemen, all documented in photographs. A vocal critic of Adolf Hitler, Hahn was forced to flee Germany in 1933. He settled in Scotland, where he founded Gordonstoun, a school inspired by the progressive ideals of Salem. Hahn is best remembered in the United States as the co-founder of Outward Bound, reflecting his faith in the transformative power of outdoor challenges and experiential learning. OCLC locates only one holding, at the British Library. A remarkable survival.