"We believe in the right of the
child to be on the stage, pro-
vided it has the proper protection
and instruction." 
Jane Harris Hall, co-founder

1915:  Let's Put on a Show
1916:  First Commencement
1923:  Merton of the Movies

History I

The Rehearsal Club

In the Beginning  

The Professional Children’s School was founded in 1914 by two reform-minded New Yorkers, Jane Harris Hall and Jean Greer Robinson. Ardent theatre-goers, the women learned of the plight of the city’s professional children – young people working in the theatre in New York or “on the road.” They learned that public and private schools could not or would not accommodate the schedules of stage children and, more often than not, children were simply skipping school to work on the stage.

Determined to help these “unknown friends on the other side of the footlights,” as Mrs. Robinson would later write, the women decided to found a school especially for New York’s professional children. On January 6, 1914 PCS admitted its first two students in a rented room in The Rehearsal Club, a non-profit residential club for young actresses founded by Jane Harris Hall and Jean Greer Robinson a few years earlier.   An immediate success, the school enrolled over 100 students within the first year.   One of them was Albert Hackett, who told the World Telegram newspaper many years later, "The most wonderful thing about the school was meeting other kids.  I had been tutored alone most of the time before." 

PCS held its first commencement exercises on June 8, 1916.  As widely reported in the New York press, a large audience attended the ceremonies at the Princess Theatre.  The four graduates, three girls and one boy, were presented their diplomas by the actress Elsie Ferguson.  Honored guests included the actor John Drew.  One graduate, George Price, delivered a speech entitled "The Child on the Stage" in which he recalled studying geography on his "visits to the Rockies, the Grand Canyon and California in his vaudeville tours."

From the beginning, Professional Children’s School provided distance learning for students whose professional commitments required them to be away from school. Even in its earliest years, the school realized that the experiences and discovery which result from time away from school have their own educational value.