The History of Devereux
In 1912, a young Philadelphia teacher named Helena Trafford Devereux became discouraged as she saw firsthand that children with special needs were underserved by the public education system. Believing she could do better, she began teaching some of these children in her own home. She strongly believed that children, regardless of the level of their disabilities, could learn and achieve personal growth in an environment tailored to their needs.
In January of 1918 Miss Devereux used $94 of saved and borrowed funds in order to rent a house in Devon, Pennsylvania. On May 1, 1918, Helena Devereux and her students took residence in the house that became known as “Devereux Stone.” Soon her students numbered 12, and in 1919 Devereux was able to purchase the rental property, as well as the neighboring estate. Over the course of two years, school enrollment doubled. From 1920 onward, the organization saw continued growth. In 1922, the different schools and facilities became united under one name—Devereux Schools.
In 1938 The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania granted Devereux its nonprofit charter. In 1943 the Devereux Foundation expanded tremendously, purchasing another building in Devon, Pa. as well as a 350-acre estate in Santa Barbara, California. Devereux welcomed Edward L. French, Ph.D. who would serve as the Director of Psychology and Education for seven years, before becoming the Director of the Devereux Foundation upon Helena Devereux’s resignation in 1957. She would continue to serve actively as a consultant.
Devereux continued to expand in the 1950s and 1960s, opening centers in Texas, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Arizona. In 1955, Devereux earned its place among the ranks of the academic elite, as it began professional training and research partnerships with several universities including, the Teachers College of Columbia University, Pennsylvania State University, University of Pennsylvania, and Bryn Mawr College School of Social Work, among others. 1957 saw the introduction of the Devereux Institute for Research and Training, an initiative to expand professional training and research into the causes and treatment of certain psychological problems in children.