Highland Hall School of Hollidaysburg, Collection


More than 500 items from the Highland Hall School, 1867-1940, are now available for research use in the Blair County Genealogical Society's Library. They were donated by Carol Stevens, whose family, the John King McLanahan, Jr. family, were the last owners of the school. Mrs. Ella (Spendley) McLanahan carefully preserved this collection following the closure of the school. The Highland Hall School, built by Samuel Sloan, Architect, joined the National Register of Historic Buildings in 1978.


The collection includes yearbooks, catalogues, event programs, newspaper clippings, and many photographs. The school under its various names, Hollidaysburg Seminary, Miss Cowles' School, and Highland Hall, is well represented by the collection's documentation of the building structure, the staffs, and students. For most of its long use, Highland Hall was an academic preparatory school for young ladies. There were also male students for the first few years. Many of the young ladies came from the local area but also from around Pennsylvania and around the country. It is a rare archive of women's maiden and married names for the era.


After 1940, the school was used during the war years as an Army training center, the Keystone Radio School, from 1942-44. It was later used again as a boys' school directed by Franciscan Fathers before becoming an annex of the Blair County Courthouse in 1968. This post 1940 era is still being researched. Anyone willing to share documentation with BCGS for this period would be greatly appreciated.


The Highland Hall Collection archive is being inventoried and indexed by Carol Stevens with the assistance of BCGS Volunteers Cindy Rajala and Elise Charlesworth. A summary of this archive will be available to review soon on the BCGS website. Due to the fragile nature of the collection, it is available for research use by appointment only. Access to the collection may be accomplished in two ways, in person or by consultation with the BCGS Research Librarian. Anyone wishing to have materials in the archive researched for them, should contact her at or by postal mail. To visit the Library and use the collection, please call 814-696-3492.


The BCGS Library also maintains a smaller collection of Highland Hall yearbooks and other materials of its own. This collection is available for research use as well.


*Source - Highland Hall, 1867-1940, by Lucy Beswick Nuttall (Class of 1925), printed booklet, no publisher or date (after 1968?)


Cindy Rajala- collection archivist - 11-2013

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