Bristol High School Yearbook Collection
Scope and Contents
This collection is organized chronologically by year of publication, with original copies spanning from 1938 to present. This collection is split between two main locations within the Library and Archive: reference copies for staff use spanning from 1938 through present can be found on the bookshelf within the staff workroom, with photocopies of graduation programs, The Rambler, and other student publications/programs from approximately 1887 through 1950 can be found in binders (on said shelf). Additional copies of yearbooks from 1938 through 1993 can be found within three record cartons in Archive Closet 2. Integrated into these collections are copies donated by Bristol resident William “Bill” Pezza, originating from former high school teacher Gloria M. Schwartz (these are also arranged chronologically with the others). Otherwise, provenance is unknown for a majority of the older yearbooks within the collection.
Yearbooks spanning from 1938 through 2020 have been digitized and can be found within the Library’s Y-Drive (network drive) upon request. As of the writing of this finding aid, years 1938 through 2017 are publicly accessible via the Archive’s Digital Collections website, with permission granted from the Bristol Borough School District and School Board. The most recent four years of yearbooks will not be publicized online in order to protect the privacy of minors, and as such, each year a new yearbook will be uploaded for public access after its respective four-year limit has passed.
Conditions Governing Access
Contact Margaret R. Grundy Memorial Library (firstname.lastname@example.org) for information about accessing this collection.
Conditions Governing Use
Copyright interests for this collection belong to the Margaret R. Grundy Memorial Library. For more information, contact the Margaret R. Grundy Memorial Library Archivist (email@example.com).
Biographical / Historical
Throughout its history, Bristol High School has moved from location to location throughout Bristol Borough, often receiving its name from the street it resided upon at the time. This trend continued until it officially became “Bristol High School” in 1922, after the annexation of the Harriman neighborhood into the borough.
The first public school in the borough (and subsequently the first high school) was erected in 1837 on Wood Street as the Wood Street School, not long after the Pennsylvania law requiring public schools was enacted in 1834 (the Free School Act). An election for the School Board was held in 1834 as well and a school was then opened within a private dwelling in the borough. Eventually a new building was required, which resulted in Bristol Borough Council and the School Board collaborating to finance this project. The end result was the first official public school on Wood Street, rented by the School Board from the Council for a 99-year lease. This school was divided into male and female departments, with a primary school in the basement. These three departments frequently switched leadership over the next ten to fifteen years, beginning with James Anderson in charge of the boys’ department, Anna N. Smith leading the girls’, and Nancy Cummings at the helm of the primary school.
Up until the end of the Civil War, Bristol only required two school buildings (the first being the Wood Street School, the second being on Otter Street, opened in 1854 accommodating primary grades and boys employed on the Delaware Canal); however, as the town developed more as a manufacturing hub, educational needs expanded for the growing number of children within the borough. In response, the Washington Street School was built in 1879, catering primarily to grammar school students. In 1881, the Bath Street School opened, focusing more on children in grades first through seventh in the early half of the 20th century. Both the Washington Street and Bath Street Schools closed in 1956 with the opening of Warren P. Snyder Elementary School. Around the time of these new schools being built at the turn of the century, the first official graduation class in Bristol Borough received their diplomas in 1883 from the Bath Street School.
Following this, the official high school was opened at the corner of Wood and Mulberry Streets as (once again) the Wood Street School in 1894. Up until this point, all high school students attended school in the same building as all other lower grades. The new building constructed here was initially planned to have no less than eight rooms, with a hall and lecture room on the third floor, however, it was discovered that a building of this size would not fit at Wood and Mulberry Streets, so the school was constructed slightly smaller than intended. In 1910, ninth grade classes were merged into the high school with upper class students.
During the First World War, the Merchant Shipyard Corporation once again increased the population of Bristol as workers came for employment at the shipyard. This influx became so great, that the Merchant Shipyard Corporation planned an entirely new town named after the company’s founder, Harriman (William Averell Harriman), located in an area north and west of the shipyard. Eventually, the Emergency Fleet Corporation took over the construction of the town, as housing was built, as well as the establishment of public services, such as its own police station, post office, fire department, local shops, public works, library, hotel, hospital, and public school. This school, the Harriman Village School, was built in 1917 at the corner of Garfield Street and Wilson Avenue.
Harriman School eventually became what is now the current location of Bristol High School (at the time of writing this finding aid in 2021), when the village of Harriman was annexed into Bristol Borough in 1922. In 1922, high school students entered via the Wilson Avenue entrance and were located on the second floor, while grade school students (grades first through eighth) entered via the front entrance on Garfield Street, having classes on the first floor. An additional wing to the school was built in 1926, with major renovations happening in 1960. With the opening of Warren Snyder Elementary School in 1956 (which was later renamed to the Snyder-Girotti Elementary School in 1990), this allowed for the Wilson Avenue location to become completely devoted to junior and high school students, becoming Bristol Junior-Senior High School.
It was during the 1920s and 1930s that the various student organizations, activities, and sports (that are still active today) began at the high school, such as the Yearbook Committee, with the first known “official” yearbook published in 1938. Photocopies of graduation programs (1893-1937 [pre-yearbooks]) and issues of The Rambler (1926-1928, 1932) from within the Grundy Archive’s collections have acted as the primary source for class lists and graduation information prior to the publication of said yearbooks. The Yearbook Committee in 1938 included the following students: Miss G. Hewitt, A. Zug, F. O'Boyle, R. Jefferies, S. Dick, D. Barr, W. Roberts, R. M. Paone, F. Martini, Mr. C. Boyd, W. Peters, H. Simon, E. Hutchinson, J. Van Zant, D. Mershon, J. Roberts, M. Fry, R. Hart, M. Eckert, J. Rosser, A. Leeper, and M. Phipps. Student leaders of the Yearbook Committee included Kathryn M. Quinn, editor in-chief, Joseph W. Snyder, business manager, J. Wollard, R. Richardson, J. Spencer, and C. Colgan.
The aforementioned Rambler was another prominent group that saw its beginnings in 1926 and was a student literary publication. This magazine was an outgrowth of The Bolt—a four-page newspaper organized by Henry Bisbee in 1925. It was in 1926 that faculty members Warren P. Snyder and Robert B. Shaffer persuaded students to create The Rambler in order to fulfill the need for a larger paper and help to meet the qualifications of a “Class A school” (Bristol High School, “The Rambler” 27). Louis Paulmier (Class of 1926) was the first editor-in-chief and the name “rambler” was chosen by student Nettie Santo. The first issues were published five times annually and certain issues would act as yearbooks (prior to 1938), with class dedications, senior portraits, class histories, class “prophecies,” senior wills, and advertisements from local businesses and community groups featured. This newsletter lasted throughout most of the high school’s history, with a large student staff throughout much of the mid-20th century. In the 1960s, there were four sub-staffs within the publication: news, literary, sports, and business. The Rambler and other forms of student literary groups faded out in the early 2000s, with the folding of a student literary magazine called Facets (what followed The Rambler) circa 2004.
Besides the Yearbook Committee and The Rambler, the longest lasting clubs in Bristol High School include the Hi-Y (affiliated with the YMCA) and Tri-Hi-Y (originated from the “Y-Teens” Club and prior to that, the Girl Reserves affiliated with the YWCA), Library Club, various music and drama groups (marching band, concert band, jazz or “dance” band, chorus, glee club, drama club, school play), Student Council, various language clubs (Spanish, French, German, Italian, Latin), Traffic Club, and National Honors Society. An annual trip to Washington D.C. has also been a tradition of the high school throughout the years for seniors, sometimes deviating from the capital to places such as New York City and Disney World (Orlando, Florida). Other popular clubs and activities featured in the yearbooks include: Senior and Junior Girl Reserves, Art Club, Commercial Club, Chess Club, specific clubs during World War II (such as Aircraft Identification Club, Red Cross Club, and Victory Club), Visual Aids Club (which over time transformed into the A/V Club and Media Club), Pigeon Club, Knitting Club, Square Dancing Club, Archery Club, Social Science and Debating Club, Drivers’ Training, Future Teachers of America, Future Homemakers of America, Future Business Leaders of America, Microscopy Club, Interact Club (service organization associated with the Bristol Rotary Club), Co-operative Work Program, Youth Education Association, Humanities Club, Afro-American Club, Key Club, Rocket Club, Students Against Drunk Driving (SADD), Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Peer Mediation, Green Club, an annual student volleyball tournament, Video Game Design, Student Ambassadors, and Academic Challenge. Sports teams throughout the years included the football team, cheerleading, basketball, track, baseball, softball, wrestling, field hockey, “gym team” (gymnastics), bowling, cross country, golf, roller hockey, and powder puff. Associated athletic groups included the Varsity Club and the Student Trainers Club (sports therapy). A Thanksgiving football game versus longtime rivals Morrisville High School has often been a school tradition spanning decades and continues as of 2021.
As of the writing of this finding aid, the most recent yearbook publication for the 2020-2021 school year listed the following sports: football, cheerleading, field hockey, cross country, girls’ and boys’ basketball, girls’ and boys’ bowling, powder puff, baseball, softball, girls’ and boys’ track and field, and unified track. Activities included spirit week, Halloween dress-up day, prom, but, no clubs were recorded for that school year, most likely due to virtual learning caused by the COVID-19 Pandemic. In 2019, however, clubs listed were: National Honor Society, Drama Club, Chem Club, Garden Club, Interact Club, Student Council, Student Delegates (student representatives at school board meetings), Student Forum, International Club, Mock Trial, Model UN, Prom Committee, and Reading Olympics.
All in all, this collection of yearbooks helps to document the rich student life and culture of Bristol Borough’s public high school as it has changed throughout the years, spanning over a century of history for this small town.
7.58 Linear Feet (3 record cartons located in Archive Closet 2, reference copies available on bookshelf in staff workroom.)
Language of Materials
Further acccruals from Bristol High School expected.
- “Bristol Borough School District History.” Bristol Borough School District, 2021, https://www.bbsd.org/about.asp.
- Bristol High School. “The Rambler.” The Rambler: Commencement Number, vol. 2, no. 3, June 1927, p. 27.
- Buckman, Dr. E. D., First Public School. From notes taken by Dr. E. D. Buckman, Secretary. Historical Sketches of Bristol Borough, in the County of Bucks, Anciently Known as “Buckingham:” Being the Second Chartered Borough in Pennsylvania; Commencing with its Colonial Settlement, in 1681, and Closing with the Year 1853, by William Bache, 1853, Bristol, Pennsylvania, pp. 57-59.
- Green, Doron. A History of Bristol Borough in the County of Bucks, State of Pennsylvania Anciently Known as “Buckingham” Being the Third Oldest Town and Second Chartered Borough in Pennsylvania From Its Earliest Times to the Present Year 1911. C. S. Magrath, 1911.
- Green, Doron, “The schools children will attend: the buildings to which they will report next Tuesday morning, when the fall term begins here.” Bristol Courier, 31, August, 1922, p. 1.
- Harriman and the Merchant Shipbuilding Corporation: The Rise of a Community. 11, October – 3, November, 2012, Margaret R. Grundy Memorial Library, Bristol, Pennsylvania.
- "John Girotti, 49, School Administrator." Philadelphia Inquirer, The (PA), PENNA ed., sec. NEIGHBORS BUCKS, 7, January, 1990, p. B31. NewsBank: Access World News – Historical and Current, https://infoweb.newsbank.com/apps/news/document-view? p=WORLDNEWS&docref=news/0EB29FE189207312 . Accessed 22, October, 2021.
- Johnson, Evelyn, T., Public Relations Committee of Bristol P. T. A. “Recites History of School Growth in Bristol Borough: Parent-Teacher Association of Bristol Presents Some Data.” The Bristol (PA.) Courier, 11, December, 1952, p. 12.
- The Rambler. “125th Anniversary of Bristol Schools.” Bristol Daily Courier, 4, March, 1963, p. 22. https://newspaperarchive.com/bristol-daily-courier-mar-04-1963-p-22/. Accessed 21, July, 2021.
- Rowan, Lisa E. A. “Steeped in history: Bristol High School.” Bristol Pilot, 14, November, 2002, pp. 1-2.
Processed by Archivist Lillian Kinney. Data entry for digitized versions on Omeka performed with assistance by Stephanie Walker.
- Bristol (Pa. : Borough)
- Bristol (Pa.)
- Bristol High School
- Bucks County (Pa.)
- Education, Secondary
- Girotti, John D., 1940-1989
- Harriman (Pa.)
- Harriman, William Averell, 1891-1986
- High school athletes
- High school graduate
- High school student publications
- High school students
- High schools--Alumni and alumnae
- High schools--Curricula
- High schools--Curricula--Pennsylvania
- High schools--History--20th century
- High schools—Pennsylvania
- Snyder, Warren P., 1898-1970
- Bristol High School Yearbook Collection
- Archivist Lillian Kinney
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Code for undetermined script
- Language of description note
- Grundy Foundation