of Washtenaw County
Perry School, 1934

Foundations Preschool began as Perry Nursery School in 1934 in the depth of the Great Depression.

Perry Nursery School was started by Edith Bader, Assistant Superintendent of the Ann Arbor Public Schools, as one of four WPA (Works Progress Administration) Nursery Schools founded to assist children from depression-ridden homes as well as give employment to low-income mothers hired to staff the nurseries. It was named Perry Nursery School because although not a part of the public school system, it was housed in the Perry Elementary School.

As the Depression eased in the late 1930s, the three other WPA nurseries closed.

Perry Nursery School survived and in 1942 became a Lanham Act Nursery. The Lanham Act, established by the US Congress, provided funding to establish childcare centers so mothers of young children could work in the growing defense industry (yes – we housed the children of the Rosie the Riveters of the Willow Run bomber plant)!

As World War II ended and mothers employed in defense industries again became full-time homemakers, a group of parents, administrators, and community activists recognized there was still a need for full-time child care for young children. Many women were the sole or primary supporters of their families. In addition to low-income and divorced mothers, war widows and wives supported the family while their husbands went to college under the GI Bill.

Interested in supporting our day-to-day operations, or our endowment to ensure our continued longevity?