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Friedmann, M. (1988). The Hampstead Clinic Nursery: The First 20 Years (1957 - 1978). Bul. Anna Freud Centre, 11(4):277-287.

(1988). Bulletin of the Anna Freud Centre, 11(4):277-287

The Hampstead Clinic Nursery: The First 20 Years (1957 - 1978)

Manna Friedmann

In 1946, when I was working with Alice Goldberger in the Residential Home for the youngest survivors of the Concentration Camps, aged from 5 to 15, Anna Freud used to visit us accompanied by Dr Josefine Stross, her friend and personal physician.

When in 1956 Anna Freud had secured the funds to start the Nursery as part of the Educational Unit of the Clinic and offered me the job of running it I was very happy to accept.

As is now well known, the purpose of such a Nursery for ‘normal’ children with, in Anna Freud's words, ‘no more than the developmental hazards’ was threefold:

(1)  to offer students in training at the Clinic the opportunity to observe normal behaviour and development in children between two and a half and five years of age;

(2)  to bring together the two disciplines of education and analysis;

(3)  to offer a Nursery service for a group of children.

The Setting

The basement of No. 12 Maresfield Gardens, where the Nursery was to be situated, was a dark and uninviting place. The team who were to convert it was the architect Ernst Freud, Annie Hermann, who was a former colleague of Anna Freud's and a Montessori teacher, and myself as her assistant. Annie Hermann was at that time the Director of the Nursery School of the Child Development Center in New York. Anna Freud asked her to come over and act as adviser for 6 months. This was in November 1956.

Within 6 months the place was transformed. It was a most exciting and pleasurable stage in the establishment of the Nursery. The furniture was designed by Annie Hermann and made by a carpenter, the son of the then-housekeeper of the Clinic. The educational equipment was selected by us. We were given a free hand but when in doubt discussed the purchases with Anna Freud.

The large playroom had previously been used by therapists for the treatment of severely disturbed children.

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