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VIII, FARNUM PREPARATORY SCHOOL,
OF NEW JERSEY.
Paul FARNUM, whose name is indissolubly associated by act of the legislature of New Jersey, passed May, 1857, with the Preparatory School, at Beverly, which his liberality has established, endowed, and conveyed to that state, and by the legislature adopted as a state institution, was born in Worcester County, Mass., in the year 1788, and is now therefore in his seventieth year. He removed to Boston, in 1825, and from that year, until 1846, was very successfully engaged in mercantile pursuits in the cities of Boston, and Philadelphia. During the latter year he abandoned business, and retired to a quiet and rural home on the high banks of the Delaware, near the borough of Beverly, where he now resides.
Mr. Farnum had for many years, entertained as a favorite idea, the project of establishing and endowing a school of a high order, for the benefit of the youth in his adopted vicinage. But when the legislature of New Jersey, in the winter of 1855, passed an act for the establishment of a Normal School for the training of teachers, leaving the location of the institution, open to the competition of the different localities desiring it, his quick eye readily discerned the means by which his generous purposes might be made at once to assume a much more comprehensive and beneficent shape, and to confer a succession of untold blessings, not only upon his own immediate neighborhood, but upon the people of the entire state. Accordingly, when proposals for the location of the Normal School were solicited, Mr. Farnum, appeared before the Board of Trustees, with offers more liberal than those made by any other man, or association of men.
His propositions would have been promptly accepted, but for overruling considerations, which compelled the trustees to fix upon the capital of the state, as the most appropriate theater for the trial of an "experiment," instituted by the legislature, and dependent upon its approving aid for a successful issue.
Mr. Farnum cheerfully acquiesced in this decision of the trustees, but proceeded with the erection of the building already commenced by him, and awaited a favorable opportunity for the realization of his favorite object,—that of aiding the commonwealth in her efforts for the training of teachers for her public schools. The State Normal
School, established by the legislature, was opened in October, 1855, in a building temporarily secured for the purpose, until the completion of the elegant and commodious edifice provided by the citizens of Trenton, and now occupied by the institution. After the Normal School had been in operation for a sufficient length of time to vindicate its utility, and importance to the great scheme of public education, and to turn the strong tide of opposition which was at first brought to bear against it, Mr. Farnum again appeared before the trustees on the occasion of the dedication of the Normal School edifice, and made a proposition still more liberal than that originally laid before that body. He not only offered to place the building which he had erected, and furnished, freely at their disposal, but proposed that, if a preparatory school should be opened therein, auxiliary to the State Normal School, he would defray its entire expenses for at least one year. He also agreed, that the entire property, together with an endowment of twenty thousand dollars, should be left at his decease, in trust for the state, conditional only, that a preparatory school should be maintained therein, under the direction of the state government. Of course there could be but one opinion, and one disposition in regard to proposals so generous in their origin, and so philanthropic in their bearing upon the welfare of future generations. They were promptly accepted, in so far as the trustees felt themselves empowered by the act creating the board to do so, until such time as the requisite authority could be obtained from the legislature to connect the scheme more intimately with the state educational machinery.
The preparatory school was accordingly opened for the reception of pupils on the 8th of October, 1856. The applications for admission were very numerous, summing up about one hundred and eighty, of which number, about one hundred and forty were, on due examination, admitted. The organization of the school is such as to secure in a high degree the peculiar objects of such an institution, to wit: the preparation of candidates for admission to a Teachers' Seminary, where a strictly professional education and training are to be imparted. To this end it is so graded as to lay the foundations broad and deep, in a thorough and rigorous system of elementary training, for the future teacher-scholar. And not only does it aim to secure this great desideratum, but it also seeks to determine the fitness of a candidate to become a candidate for the office of a teacher of youth. In other words, its forces are so applied as to determine as far as human judgment can determine, the adaptation of its pupils for the profession of teaching. For this purpose, there is an "experimental department," composed of young children to which the candidate is sent to practice