School Savings Banks

The School Savings Banks program was part of the thrift reform movement of the late 1800s and early 1900s. While the movement began in the 1850s in France, J. H. Thirty opened the first School Savings Bank in the United States on Long Island in 1885. Sara Oberholtzer, a Philadelphian, popularized and spread the idea throughout the country under the auspices of the National Women’s Christian Temperance union. By late 1920, there were more than 15,000 schools with such programs. These images are part of HSP’s Oberholtzer collection.