New Oral History: Shirley Wright and the Founding of the West Village Nursery School

Shirley Wright (left) and the West Village Nursery School in its earliest days

We’re pleased to share our latest oral history with longtime Greenwich Village resident and West Village Nursery School co-founder Shirley Wright — access it here.

Shirley has lived in Greenwich Village for three quarters of a century, and co-founded the West Village Nursery School: a model, progressive nursery school that has been a cornerstone institution in Greenwich Village for over 60 years, teaching children through play. Shirley learned her progressive approach to education at the Bank Street College of Education, when it was located in Greenwich Village. She and several of her neighbors saw a need for a cooperative-based nursery school for young children in the neighborhood, even as Robert Moses was declaring the area “blighted” and slated for demolition and redevelopment. Over the years, Shirley played a key role not only in founding the school, but in it establishing a permanent home and sound financial footing, when so many other local institutions have come and gone. In her oral history, she discusses all of this, plus changing life in the Village over the many decades, moving here from Ohio, and biking across Europe with other young women after World War II.

This latest oral history adds to our collection of over 60, with preservationists like Jane Jacobs and Margot Gayle; merchants like the Strand’s Fred Bass and Romana Raffetto of Raffetto’s; choreographers like Merce Cunningham; activists like CHARAS’s Chino Garcia and Fran Goldin; playwrights like John Guare and Virlana Tkacz; photographers like Marlis Momber; writers like Calvin Trillin and Mimi Sheraton; filmmakers like Jonas Mekas; musicians like David Amram; and performance artists like Penny Arcade

January 25, 2023