Oral Histories

Interview of Thompson Webb

Founder and headmaster of Webb School in Claremont, California.
Webb School in Claremont, California
College Preparatory Schools of Southern California
Biographical Note:
Founder and headmaster of Webb School in Claremont, California.
Mink, James V.
Webb, Thompson
Persons Present:
Webb and Mink; Vivian Webb, Webb's wife, was also present during thelast session.
Place Conducted:
Webb School in Claremont, California.
Supporting Documents:
Records relating to the interview are located in the office of the UCLA Library's Center for Oral History Research.
Interviewer Background and Preparation:
The interview was conducted by James V. Mink, University Archivist and Director, UCLA Oral History Program; B.A., M.A.,History, UCLA; B.L.S., UC Berkeley; Certificate in Archival Administration and Preservation, American University, Washington, D.C.
Processing of Interview:
In July 1971, an edited transcript was sent to Webb for verification and review. He decided that he did not want to complete the interview. After his death, however, his son, Thompson Webb, Jr., agreed to allow the Oral History Program to release the transcript. Virginia Carew, assistant editor, edited thetranscript. She checked the verbatim transcript of the interview against the original tape recordings and edited for punctuation, paragraphing, and spelling, and verified proper names. Words and phrases inserted by the editor have been bracketed.Teresa Barnett, editor, prepared the index and front matter.
6 hrs.
Regents of the University of California, UCLA Library.
Series Statement:
This series includes interviews who founded or served on the staff of college preparatory schools in Southern California in the middle decades of the twentieth century.
The story of Webb's father, William R. Webb; William R. Webb becomes a teacher; founds the Webb School in Bell Buckle, Tennessee; curriculum and discipline; Thompson Webb goes to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; William R. Webb is elected to the United States Senate; faculty and classes at the University of North Carolina; Thompson Webb comes to California and takes up farming; goes back to Bell Buckle to teach in his father's school; runs summer camp; financial difficulties; teaching position at Thacher School falls through; Sherman Thacher encourages Webb to start a school in California; Webb's friend Rayford W. Alley agrees to invest; difficulty of attracting paying students; Alley is forced to withdraw his offer of investment; sources of financial backing; students enroll for the second year; Webb is forced to expel about half the school; Leo Chandler and Colonel Sutton lend Webb money to improve the school; the Webb School Parents Association raises the tuition and recruits more students; a hotel supply company agrees to give Webb fifteen hundred dollars of credit; Webb refuses to go into more debt to build a library; he pays off all of his debts; Vivian Webb's contribution to the Webb School; speakers at the school; the dedication service for the chapel; hostility to private schools in California; quality of William R. Webb's school in Bell Buckle, Tennessee; difficulties Thompson Webb's school had getting accredited; Tom Jackson's parents agree to finance the school library; bad relations among private schools in the area; the funding of the California Association of Independent Secondary Schools; a national association of schools is organized; the Webb School's ranking; faculty; Paul Squibb; admission criteria for Webb School; problems with parents; Robert Freeman turns down an invitation to speak at the Webb School; Webb visits Groton and Millbrook schools; visits British public schools; meets Alexander Irvine; distinguished graduates of Webb School; Raymond M. Alf; raising money for the Alf Museum; Catalina Island School is moved to Santa Barbara; Webb's son William becomes headmaster of Catalina Island School and later of Dunn School.