The Institute at Crossroads

Gender, Work, and Family in a Scholar’s Paradise

“I think an unaccompanied scholar, particularly a male, probably has the best of all possible worlds at the Institute.” 
Social Science Member in the 1970s, male, age 50 at the moment of the questionnaire in 1976

Founded in 1930, the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, was designed to be a scholar’s paradise. Its founding ethos underscored providing a space and time for scholars to pursue their own research outside of the conventional requirements of academic life, such as teaching, as well as the political injunctions of states and the economic demands of markets. Freeing up the researchers’ time was posited as a condition for autonomous scholarly research.

In this article, we look into how the Institute tackled these questions from an angle which at first may seem at the margins of science: the Crossroads Nursery School, founded by and for the Institute in 1947, which has been operating ever since. This work was made possible by access to hitherto unseen archives.1 The view from the nursery provides a unique vantage point to study the social history of the Institute. Moreover, through accessing Crossroads’ archives for the first time, we shed historical light on one of the most salient questions of our present: gender and science. In particular, we excavate the unspoken, and fundamental, views on gender and parenting at the Institute from the late 1940s, and their historical transformations. The Institute was initially envisaged (at least implicitly) as a scholar’s paradise for heterosexual men assisted by female spouses whose primary role was to free up their husbands’ time by taking care of the children. This original model was put under severe strain as women became increasingly present in the academy. As a result, policies at all levels attempted to reduce the gender gap among those who were chosen as Members of the Institute’s various schools. The increasing measures to produce free time for research conflicted with the labor claims expressed by the female staff working at the nursery school, bringing to light a class divide which intersected with gender issues. 

Crossroad’s Birth Pangs

On May 7, 1997, Homer Thompson addressed a letter to Myrna Jenkins, the long-time director of Crossroads Nursery School. The childcare facility was celebrating its fiftieth anniversary. The distinguished classical archaeologist, by then a Professor Emeritus in the School of Historical Studies, recalled that he had been present at the nursery’s “birth pangs in the autumn of 1947,” which coincided with his first faculty meeting and happened to also be J. Robert Oppenheimer’s first as the Institute’s Director-elect. His predecessor, Frank Aydelotte, had championed the idea of a nursery during his term. However, many organizational issues still needed to be resolved. Thompson recalls witnessing “the growing impatience” on Oppenheimer’s face as the faculty discussed the nursery’s establishment. When they left the room, the new Director whispered, audibly enough for him to understand: “Never again will the Nursery School appear on the agenda of a faculty meeting.” “Nor did it,” adds Thompson in his letter, “during the Oppenheimer regime,” which lasted almost two decades (1947–66). Were it not for Thompson’s late letter, we would have no knowledge of this discussion. The minutes of the meeting record a discussion on taxation, and a vote on the motion that the secretary should collect the Lunch Club due of $10 from each faculty member. Perhaps the nursery school conversation was not deemed "worthy" enough to be inscribed in the minutes.

Other archives do show nonetheless that a couple of weeks before the faculty meeting, “a committee of two [Institute] mothers” visited Bernetta A. Miller. One of the first female licensed pilots in the United States, she was then the assistant to Director Aydelotte. The mothers told her that there were 34 children living on the Institute premises, including 15 who were of nursery school age. Existing schools in Princeton were both already at capacity and expensive. In her letter to Aydelotte and Oppenheimer, Miller acted as the intermediary between the all-male leadership of the Institute and the wives of its Faculty and temporary Members. She strongly supported the latter’s demands to found a nursery school, run largely by the wives themselves, as volunteers with a minimal salaried staff. “Without a doubt,” Miller wrote, “the matter is urgent if the parents are to have reasonable quiet at home and there are many scholars who now have to work in their apartments.”2 Miller’s argument drew on the Institute’s founding ethos of freeing up time and space for research. The implicit assumption was that the scholars referred to as working from home were men. The nursery school would allow the children and their mothers to spend part of the day in an alternate location. The letter ended in all caps: “SPACE IS THE CHIEF REQUISITE. WE HAVE THE TEACHERS AND THE STUDENTS.”

By December 1947, the newly founded nursery was occupying part of an apartment at the Institute. This did not result in “much loss of revenue,” Miller assured the new Director. The low-cost arrangement was the consequence of a staff composed of Institute mothers and the apartment being split between the nursery’s quarters and the remaining bedrooms of the apartment, which were rented out to transient Members.3 George Dyson, the son of physicist Freeman Dyson and mathematician Verena Huber-Dyson, attended Crossroads from 1955–57, from the age of two-and-a-half to four. During this period, his mother was the school’s chairman, as the position was then called, despite an all-female staff.4 As an adult, Dyson remembered that Crossroads was run “more or less as a co-op” reserved to Institute children: “the dads came and built things and the moms took care of kids during the day. And there was one or two teachers,”5 notably Mrs. Tomlison, who was the director of the school until 1967. Indeed, the school rested on a strict gendered division of labor with most of the burden falling on the shoulder of the mothers. Teachers and the other Institute mothers not only attended all the meetings. They offered many activities to the children: musical lessons with the use of a piano (Mrs. Goldstine, whose husband was the assistant project director of the Electronic Computer Project developed by the Institute, supervised the tuning), the teaching of songs and rhythmic movements,6 a visit to the fire station, a “picnic party at Mrs. Dyson’s place” to celebrate the end of the term,7 a trip to the Dyson’s house to chop down a Christmas tree,8 etc. Mothers were also expected to give a hand to the teachers in the mornings, to split the children into two groups when a new activity was being introduced, and even to do substitute teaching in the event of a teacher being ill.9 They were also involved in crafts, such as making puppets for the school, an initiative of Mrs. Shapiro’s, whose husband was a Member in the School of Mathematics in 1955–57.10 Moreover, the mothers whose children went to Crossroads had to perform weekly housekeeping chores.11 They were the school’s backbone. The fathers, on the other hand, were only supposed to drop by once a month on Saturday to do maintenance work.12 When they participated in meetings, which was very unusual, it was because these had been explicitly referred to as a “social event to which fathers were invited.”13

In the following years the informal co-op of Institute mothers began facing multiple issues, which were linked to larger societal transformations, making the informal operation of a childcare facility increasingly difficult. In January 1962, Mary Whitney, whose husband was a faculty member in the School of Mathematics, reported some insurance matters to the Board: “We do not have medical or accident insurance for the children.”14 At the next meeting in March, the problem was solved: a new liability insurance and a fire insurance were purchased after an estimation of the contents of the building. In October, it was mentioned that “the key to the school can no longer be kept in the mailbox as in the past.”15 That same year, there were also many issues concerning the payment of Federal Income taxes.16 Crossroads became a member of the National Council of Cooperative Schools and the State Council. Year after year, the list of children enrolled grew longer: from seventeen in 1952 to thirty-five in 1968. Likewise, the number of formally employed teachers grew from two to six.

Starting from the mid-1950s, the archives indicate that certain parents became lax about their Crossroads duties. Some mothers did not or could not participate in the life of the nursery as much as they were expected to and were criticized for it. In January 1956, a motion was carried to establish a $5 penalty for those who did not cooperate enough. The penalty money was put into a fund for buying equipment.17 This did not solve the issue. In 1960, “There was quite a discussion of the philosophy behind, and methods of insuring, parents’ cooperation in our school. Two important reasons for parents’ help are: 1) there is work to be done; 2) work from within the school is more meaningful than paid outside help because as people work they invest not only their own specific contribution but something of themselves too.”18 In 1962, Mrs. Butow, married to a one-year Member in the School of Historical studies, “raised the question of hiring a cleaning woman for the Wednesday half-cleaning at a cost of 85 cents/person per month. A discussion followed. Some felt that since the Institute is already paying for a weekly thorough cleaning, the mothers should contribute at least minimal maintenance to our cooperative school. It is not fair to tax those who wish to clean. However, it was decided that those who feel strongly against participating in mid-week cleaning may speak to Mrs. Brown and contribute in time in other activities instead.”19

The nursery school embodied a division of labor between men dedicated to intellectual work—and occasional craftwork on days off, reproducing a popular image of manhood—and women dedicated to housework and child rearing. The increasing numbers of women entering the workforce and the making of claims for equal opportunity, in addition to the rare female academics making an appearance at the Institute, would soon contribute to challenging this strict gendered division of labor.

Working Women, Desperate Housewives and “Modern” Academic Men

Since the Institute’s creation in 1930, its permanent faculty has always been overwhelmingly male. This also holds true for both its Members and Visitors. Compared to their famous husbands, we have few traces in the archives of the female spouses’ lives, a common feature of the history of women.20 IAS questionnaires and end-of-year reports to the Director were, and still are, filled in by Members and Visitors only. Their partners have no say.

In 1976, a 113-page document was prepared by Jane Clinton for the IAS Board of Trustees,21 compiling representative quotations from a questionnaire that had been sent out to various generations of IAS members and visitors. It is a precious document to apprehend the female spouses’ experience in the previous two decades, despite being narrated by their husbands. The last ten pages of the questionnaire are dedicated to “services and facilities”: “Was there anything lacking in the Institute's facilities, services, and support or organizational arrangements that would have made your work easier and more fruitful?” In their answers, the 1950s and 1960s members register a complaint. Their spouses, they register, were “socially very unhappy” (Physics, age 50 in 1976, member in the early 1950s) at the Institute. “I was newly married at the time,” a member of the early 1960s noted, “and the situation was particularly unpleasant for my wife. She felt completely isolated” (Mathematics, age 55 in 1976). Another mathematician, who was at the Institute in the 1960s, lauded the value of Institute housing, which enabled him to spend evenings and weekends working with his colleagues, and to focus all his time on research. This obviously stoked domestic tensions. He suggested it was worth it. “True,” he added after his laudatory remarks, “the divorce rate is high, but…”

For all its removal from the strains of daily life, the Institute reproduced the gendered division of labor between public and private spheres found in society. The former was the male scholar’s territory. His female companion was attached to the latter. As for the unmarried academic, he could count on paid female help. The studio housing units at the Institute, known in the late 1950s as the Bachelors’ quarters, were provided with a courtesy maid-service. The larger units, which housed couples and families, were not provided with cleaning services, since it was assumed that the scholar would be accompanied with his wife who would be in charge of maintaining their living quarters.

However, the Institute’s gendered division of labor between the men of science and the women of the household began to be challenged from different quarters. Female Members appeared in greater numbers and their claims became more difficult to ignore. In the early 1970s, a female Member of the School of Social Science who chose to stay in a studio apartment discovered that she had not been granted maid service, unlike her male colleagues. She made a case for maid-service for all singles. This was institutionalized, until the service was discontinued.

Male members who were accompanied by their families complained that their wives could not find work in the area. The lack of employment opportunities was particularly acute for foreign members. In the 1976 questionnaire, a thirty-year-old physics scholar, who underscored that both he and his wife had “a very enjoyable year,” added that his wife’s inability to work was “the only disappointment” of their time at the Institute a few years before. “Several people in Princeton were very helpful in trying to arrange employment,” he added,” but the combination of lack of availability and visa restrictions made this impossible. I think this is not an uncommon problem amongst the foreign wives who are without children, are often fairly well qualified and used to a full-time job.”22

In the 1970s, the growing number of women in full-time jobs also put a strain on the Institute’s gendered division of labor. More and more Members began asking for childcare. A male Social Science Member in the 1970s noted that “it was an extremely difficult experience for my wife—and many other wives… The Institute did not help organize a day-care center for small children. Wives with their own professional interests were given neither opportunity nor encouragement.” The same Member added that “[t]he Crossroads school was excellent.” Notwithstanding the fact that at the time Crossroads did not admit infants and toddlers before the age of two-and-a-half, and operated exclusively in the mornings, closing at 11:45 a.m. (with an optional extension of the morning to 1 p.m. for a limited number of children “for the benefit of women who are working or studying”).23 Demands for a full-day care facility came not only from women (female staff or Members) but also from male Members with children, who suffered themselves from the lack of this facility during their time at the Institute. In the 1976 questionnaire, a male Member in the School of Historical Studies noted that the lack of daycare facilities made the year in residence “more difficult for many wives of Members and also for some of the more ‘modern’ male Members who shared household duties.” The historian William H. Sewell, who was a Member of the School of Social Science in 1971–72, diagnosed the strain the gendered division of labor at the Institute put on heterosexual couples and families in his end-of-year report to the director:

"The one area where I think some serious improvements are required is in services for wives and families of members. It was my impression that a feeling of malaise was extremely widespread among members’ wives (…) However, I think the greatest need is for a childcare center, where preschool children could be given care for either a few hours a week or from eight to five. This would allow Institute wives to take advantage of the intellectual opportunities of the University or New York, to take part-time or full-time work, or simply to get peace of mind for a couple of afternoons a week. I think there is a real need for such a facility; we were unable to find day-care for our youngest anywhere in Princeton and ended up taking her to a woman in Hightstown, which cost us a good hour-and-a-half commuting time every day. I also think it could be provided without excessive cost to the Institute, since I think most members would be quite willing to pay for the full unsubsidized cost of the service if necessary. In any case, I think a child-care center would significantly improve the experience of many Institute wives, and of many of their husbands as well (some of us put in many hours of babysitting to free our wives for their projects).”24

That Members should be spending their precious time on babysitting went counter to the original idea of free time for scholastic inquiry. This issue went unresolved into the 1980s. The childcare issue remained invisible, as it had been since Oppenheimer’s days. Joan W. Scott, the second female professor to be hired at the Institute (in 1985), recalls a telling episode:

“There was a gender seminar that we had the first or second year I was here [1985–86]… One of the women in the group had brought her daughter who was six or seven years old and very independent and very sweet, and she was in my office. We were in the second floor seminar room in the West Building, and she made no noise. She was just quietly playing, but a professor in the School of Historical Studies noticed her, and then next day I got a letter that said, “Dear Professor Scott, you may not know that the rules of the Institute for Advanced Study are that there will be no children allowed in any of the buildings, especially in faculty offices.” And I thought, this is really a sign of enormous anxiety on the part of this guy as to what it would it mean to bring women here. Again, probably not the entire faculty, but certainly some of them had this view.”25

The “Crossroads Uprising” for Full-Day Childcare

In 1982–83, there were timid attempts to establish an afternoon program at the nursery school. Myrna Jenkins, the director of Crossroads at the time, implemented the policy under pressure from some Members, though she did not seem entirely convinced by its feasibility. In the spring of 1983, the afternoon program had an enrollment of eight children. Their attendance was “erratic,” according to Crossroad’s directorship, “which made it difficult to establish a routine.”26 The early afternoon program also faced more structural hurdles. Nursery teachers were most often mothers themselves, and had to find care for their own children during the afternoons, in an environment where all other nursery and elementary schools let the children off around midday. “Not all of the present staff is interested in working a full day, raising the possibility of a second staff for the afternoon”27. One of the nursery teachers was able to negotiate free afternoon care for her child at Crossroads. By the spring of 1983, the decision had been taken to phase out the afternoon program.

The issue of full-day care would resurface a decade later, at a moment which Michael Walzer, Professor Emeritus in the School of Social Science, described to us as “the Crossroads Uprising.” In 1991–92, female Members of the School of Social Science led an initiative to press for an extension of the nursery's hours. As Roberta Gernhardt, the human resources manager at the Institute, and a strong supporter of the initiative, later explained,28 there was “an increasing demand for day-care from scholars who are single parents or have working spouses.” Moreover, Gernhardt added, “the scholars are appointed in the spring and start in the fall. That does not give them enough time to arrange suitable day-care.”

This time around, the nursery negotiations were not erased from the records. Phillip Griffiths, then the Institute’s Director, mentions in his 1992–93 report that “the provision of child-care was a subject of considerable discussion among faculty, members, and staff throughout this past year.” “It is an issue of great concern to me,” he adds, “because it directly affects the benefit many younger scholars with children can derive from the Institute.”29 The possibility of female scholarly leisure was at stake, and male scholarly leisure could no longer be preconditioned by female availability for the children.

Under Griffith’s leadership, a temporary “nanny center” was established for two infants in the fall of 1992. It was followed by a plan to renovate the Electronic Computer Building (ECP), vacant since von Neumann’s computer had been retired in the early 1960s, to open a full-time childcare center under the aegis of Crossroads. “Institute gets day-care center approval,” headlined the Metro section of the Trenton-based newspaper The Times on December 18, 1993. In the fall of 1994, Crossroads and the Institute’s infant center merged and relocated to the ECP building, where they are still housed today. The facility became a full-day and part-day care center, enrolling sixty children, aged a couple of months to five years.30

This significant change was the outcome of a months-long power struggle between Crossroads and the Institute’s administration, with the latter eventually taking the upper hand. The Institute’s ownership of the premises was one of the main channels through which it could exert pressure on the school’s policies. In 1992, the Institute arranged to loan the ECP building to the nursery at the symbolic rent of $1 a year. Maintenance would be paid for by the Institute. In return, it would have the last word on the issue of a full-day program.

Part of the opposition to extending the hours into the afternoon rested on the premise that such a schedule would not be practical for the teachers who had children. The half-day schedule of the teacher/mother in a couple with a working spouse was considered a good fit by many. “This is the perfect job when you have kids” as Myrna Jenkins a former teacher (1978–82) and director (1982–2006) of Crossroads puts it.31 The opposition also rested on pedagogical arguments, stating that a full-day program was not good for children. Yet the push from the Institute was too strong. In September 1992, Allen Rowe, the Institute’s associate director for Administration and Finance, balanced in a letter to the Crossroads’ board of trustees a series of compliments with the benefits for scholars of a full-day program:

"Crossroads has a wonderful reputation and has been and continues to be one of the finest nursery schools in the region. The concept of a half-day nursery school and its positive impact on children is well recognized. However, the Institute is persuaded that a full-day program combining nursery school and childcare activities is currently needed to accommodate the Institute’s scholars who require childcare services in order to adequately pursue their academic work while in residence here at the Institute (…) If, as many people contend, full-day programs tend to make children rowdy and more difficult to handle, we definitely need to find ways to mitigate any negative behavior development. The Institute is committed to a full-day program but also to having that program be the best possible arrangement for the children under full-day conditions.32

The Professionalization of Childcare, and Its Effects

 With the shift to a full-day program, new teachers had to be hired, reinforcing a trend that had been gathering steam since the creation of the school. In 1947, Crossroads operated with only two part-time employees and plenty of mothers willing to act as “parent substitutes.” As time went by, the image of the faculty spouse engaged in partly volunteer work made way for that of a salaried employee with professional credentials.

On February 9, 1995, the teachers sent a collective letter to the members of the Board and the director of Crossroads, to “share their financial concerns”:

“Traditionally teachers at Crossroads have been able to work at the wonderful school for any length of time because they were subsidized by spouses whose incomes, benefits, pensions and social security assured at least a minimum financial security. But just as the country’s demographics have changed, so have Crossroads’. Currently, half of our 12 teachers are the main breadwinners for their families.”33 The teachers requested wage raises, better health benefits, and retirement contributions, as well as equal pay for infant and toddler rooms staff (considered as daycare workers) and nursery school staff. The mobilization was a success. In the following years, equal pay was implemented for all teachers, including the director, without any consideration of seniority. In stark contrast to peer institutions, the board decided that staff salaries would all rest on the same pay scale with yearly raises tied to inflation. In 1995, the hourly wage was 15 dollars at a time when the federal minimum wage was a mere 4 dollars and 50 cents. Benefits also improved. The two most recent directors told us that the high quality of Crossroads depends directly on the stability of the staff, which should be fairly paid. Till today, Crossroads is a non-profit organization which means annual budget is set to cover operating expenses.

Tuition rates began rising steadily and, at times, steeply. This was a consequence not only of salary policies but also of broader trends affecting institutions of childcare in the United States. As early as 1984, the board suggested raising tuition by 100 dollars for IAS Members and 200 dollars for community members, bringing their respective rates to 690 dollars/year and 900 dollars/year (equal to 17 percent and 28 percent hikes). Despite a preference for incremental raises, the board was forced to hike tuition rates repeatedly and exponentially over the following years: between 5 percent and 11 percent a year for IAS Members, 6 percent and 25 percent for community members. In 1994–95, the year of the move to Olden Lane, hikes were extreme: 36 percent and 39 percent, bringing yearly rates to 2,700 for IAS members and 3,400 dollars for community members. This amounted to an almost five-fold increase in the space of a decade (over the same period, cumulative inflation was about 40 percent). Annual raises stabilized thereafter between 2 and 6 percent, and became an accepted yearly feature of board meetings—so much so, that in 1999, the board minimized parent grumblings on the basis that “fees do tend to go up.”34

As Crossroads came to look more like a professional venture than a modest co-op, it attracted attention from the local community. In the broader Princeton area as elsewhere, the need for childcare contrasted with the scarcity of available facilities. At Crossroads by the end of the 1990s, the ratio of children from IAS (staff and Member families) to Princeton community ones was approximately 1 to 2. Crossroads’ admission policies privileged “continuing children” over IAS ones, because most of the latter only enrolled for a year. This caused a shortfall in available slots and forced IAS families to seek alternative options. In early 2002, the Institute brought the issue to Crossroads’ attention, citing a “great deal of pressure” on the issue among incoming Members. In a letter to the Crossroads board, a long-term Member’s spouse (speaking on behalf of “IAS parents”) described the school’s current priority policy as “strongly biased against the IAS community.” As they generally came from elsewhere, Members did not have the resources nor the possibility to find alternative childcare in Princeton; many didn’t even have a car on site, and those who did would end up spending time driving around, to the detriment of their scholarship. “The situation is further exacerbated,” the letter specified, “in the case of single parents.”35

At an executive officers’ meeting in May 2002, it was decided to push for a radical overhaul of Crossroads’ admission policies and to systematically give priority to IAS families from one year to the next. The Institute formalized its position to Crossroads in the summer, expressing a desire to have all full-time slots (6 for infants and 9–10 for toddlers) as well as all 14 afternoon preschool slots reserved for IAS members. Recognizing that this would have a financial cost, it proposed a compromise solution of 4, 8, and 10 slots reserved for IAS, to be reviewed after a year. It also acknowledged that this would entail Crossroads not being able to guarantee automatic re-enrollment from one year to the next for children from Princeton community families.36

It was a lot to ask for. In a joint letter signed by all twelve members of staff, the teachers rejected the proposed change in admission policy. They pointed out that these changes would harm Crossroads financially, due to an inevitable shortfall in revenue. But the thrust of their argument was based on pedagogical grounds. Citing literature on Early Childhood Education and parent feedback, they insisted on the importance of continuity in the work they did as educators. The children’s intellectual development was inseparable from their socio-emotional development, and “emotional trust” could only be achieved through daily interaction with devoted adults over several years. Prioritizing IAS children would entail privileging short-term enrollments, which would, in turn, “compromise [their] mission to offer the best quality program possible.”37

Despite the teachers’ opposition, the Institute pressed on with the policy change. In November 2002, new bylaws for Crossroads stipulated that priority would henceforth be accorded to IAS children (of staff and members) over community ones. In the years since, only two community children were not re-enrolled from one year to the next due to a surplus of IAS enrollments.38

Once again, the Institute had its way: although officially a separate entity, Crossroads remained very much within the IAS orbit. By the turn of the Twenty-first century, it had become a crucial asset in the Institute’s attempts to cater for a growing and increasingly gender-diverse population in which female spouses were no longer expected to merely accompany their husbands and take care of the children. As parents of a toddler attending the ‘Green Room’ in 2007 put it: “We have heard great things about it before arrival and it played a significant role in our decision to come to the Institute. It has lived up, even exceeded, our expectations.”

The Institute was devised as a paradise for scholars. Yet the Greek and Persian etymologies of the word paradise refer to both a park, and an enclosure, high above the humdrum of everyday life. At first, screaming children mucking about in a nursery were not supposed to be part of this enclosure.

The history of the Institute for Advanced Study’s nursery school that we have sketched here shows that skholè is a gendered and heteronormative notion. Scholars were first supposed to be men, if possible aided by a housemaking wife. Likewise, parenting was not supposed to be an activity worthy enough to take up the scholars’ precious time. Oppenheimer’s comments after the faculty meeting in 1947, as well as the letter Joan Scott received some forty years later, reveal the resistance of elite homosocial intellectual cultures to the presence of women and children in their midst. This anxiety, or hostility, was supposed to be quenched by reaffirming the artificial and gendered separation of sites of intellectual production from any concern with social reproduction.

Examining successive critical moments when the Institute was forced to respond to wider socio-structural transformations—such as the entry of women into the workforce, and later becoming main breadwinners for their families, as well as the rise of single-parenting—produces an alternative, gendered social history of the Institute. This is necessarily an intersectional history, that confronts women and men of different social backgrounds—whether they be scholars or teachers—and with different parenting mores. It is also a critical history that brings to the fore the muted conditions of possibility for more familiar, heroic narratives of scientific discovery at the Institute for Advanced Study.   

1 The authors thank Danielle Otis, the present director of Crossroads Nursery School, for giving them access to the Crossroads archives, and Myrna Jenkins, its previous director, for her generosity in answering our multiple queries. The authors acknowledge also the help and work of Erica Mosner and Casey Westerman from the Shelby White and Leon Levy Archives Center.

2 Shelby White and Leon Levy Archives Center, IAS, Beatrice Stern Research File, vertical files, box 4, N., Bernetta A. Miller, September 24, 1947, “Regarding Nursery School for Institute Children," p. 12,

3 Shelby White and Leon Levy Archives Center, IAS, Comptroller Records, Topical Files, Box 7, J. Robert Oppenheimer folder, December 3, 1947, “Memorandum,” p. 1

4 Crossroads archives, list of parents and children: 1955-1956; 1956-1957.

5 Shelby White and Leon Levy Archives Center, Oral History Project Interview Transcript, George Dyson Interviewed by Linda Arntzenius, November 11, 2010, Oral History Project files and recordings, Box 14.

6 An additional initiative of Mrs. Goldstine’s. Crossroads archives, 1956, January 31, Meeting at the Crossroads Nursery School.

7  Crossroads archives, 1956, May 28, Meeting at the Crossroads Nursery School.

8 Crossroads archives, Minutes for the February 1957 Meeting of the Crossroads Nursery School.

9 Crossroads archives, Minutes of the Meeting of November 16, 1960.

10 Crossroads archives, 1956, January 31, Meeting at the Crossroads Nursery School.

11 Crossroads archives, Minutes of Meeting held October 27, 1952 of the Parents of Children in the Crossroads Nursery School.

12 Crossroads archives, Minutes of Meeting held October 27, 1952 of the Parents of Children in the Crossroads Nursery School.

13 Crossroads archives, Minutes for the Meeting of May 28, 1956.

14 Crossroads archives, Minutes for the Meeting of January 30, 1962.

15 Crossroads archives, Board Meeting, October 18, 1962.

16 Crossroads archives, Executive Board Meeting, March 1, 1962.

17 Crossroads archives, Meeting at the Crossroads Nursery School. January 31, 1956.

18 Crossroads archives, Minutes for the Meeting of November 16, 1960.

19 Mrs. Brown was the wife of a one-year member of the school of Mathematics. Crossroads archives, Minutes of the General Meeting, November 7, 1962.

20 Michelle Perrot, Les femmes ou les silences de l’histoire, Paris, Flammarion, 1998.

21 Shelby White and Leon Levy Archives Center, IAS, BOT-Comm Files-Box 4-Review-Questionnaire Selected Comments,

22 Shelby White and Leon Levy Archives, IAS, Oral History Interview Project transcript, Clifford Geertz interviewed by Elliott Shore on December 6, 1995, Oral History Project files and recordings (transcript kindly made available by Karen Blu).

23 Shelby White and Leon Levy Archives Center, IAS, Director's Office records, Associate Director and Treasurer Allen Rowe files, 2005 transfer (reboxed), Box 12, Crossroads School Binder, 1978-1993. In 1967 an afternoon session was organized at the arrival of a new director, Mrs. Jan O’Neil who replaced Mrs. Tomlison. She considered only a full-day position.  But the four-year-old students attending the school in the afternoon were not the same as those attending the school in the morning. This afternoon session disappeared in the early 1970s.

24 Shelby White and Leon Levy Archives Center, IAS, Records of the Office of the Director, School Files, School of Social Science subseries, Box 2 of 5, Members Comments, William Sewell, Member report, August 1, 1972.

25 Shelby White and Leon Levy Archives Center, IAS, Oral History Project Interview transcript, Joan W. Scott Interviewed by Linda Arntzenius May 14, 2015, Oral History Project files and recordings, Box 13.

26 Crossroads archives, Minutes Crossroads Nursery School, March 23, 1983.

27 Crossroads archives, Minutes Crossroads Nursery School, May 1, 1982.

28 Crossroads archives, “Institute gets day-care center approval,” The Times (of Trenton), Metro section, December 18, 1993.

29 Shelby White and Leon Levy Archives Center, IAS, Director’s Report, in Report for the Academic Year 1992–93, p. 16.

30 Crossroads archives, “Nursery School to Move and Expand Enrollment,” Town Topics, August 17, 1994.

31 Interview of Myrna Jenkins by Fadi Bardawil and Céline Bessière, July 27, 2018.

32 Crossroads archives, Letter from Allen Rowe to Crossroads Board of Trustees, September 2, 1992.

33 Crossroads archives, Letter from Crossroads teachers to the Board and Director of Crossroads, February 9, 1995

34 Crossroads archives, Crossroads Board meeting, May 12, 1999.

35 Crossroads archives, Nadia Shalaby, letter to the Crossroads School Board, April 23, 2002.

36 Crossroads archives, Notes on the meeting of School Executive Officers, May 13, 2002.

37 Crossroads archives, Letter to the members of the Board, June 7, 2002.

38 Interview of Danielle Otis by Fadi Bardawil and Céline Bessière, July 24, 2018.

This piece is authored by past Members Fadi Bardawil,; Céline Bessière,; and Thomas Dodman,, for the History Working Group, a Member-organized initiative that mobilized in response to the executive order of January 27, 2017, which initially banned travel and immigration to the United States from seven predominantly Muslim countries.

Published in Spring 2021