Here we have a set of Textile Classification study cards, created in 1924 by Margaret Ravenolt, a student at Frederick’s Hood College. There are 51 cards, bound with a metal ring, each card providing details on the manufacture and usage of the chosen swatch of fabric.

M. Ravenolt study cards

Cotton cretonne

The 5” x 8” cards have been pre-printed with the desired information, as well as the name of the school; this was clearly a course-wide requirement, not a project created individually for fun. The fabrics are all noted as having been purchased in Frederick in 1924 (alas, the stores are not named), and they are a comprehensive lot. Ever read an historical novel and wondered, ‘what is foulard, or nainsook, or challis?’ Miss Ravenolt had the answer, in both written and physical form.

Percale

Cotton percale

Silk taffeta

Silk taffeta

Wool challis, detail

Wool challis

As much fun as it is to see examples of 1924 calico and cheviot, this is essentially someone’s homework – and from another county, at that. Why is it in our artifact collections? Thankfully, it was part of a donation of archival material, which helps us put our little pre-digital fabric database in context.

Margaret Ravenolt (1906-1990) grew up in Pennsylvania, attended Hood College in the early 1920s, and taught in the Maryland State public school system (probably Frederick County) from 1927-29. In 1928 she married Irvin C. Thomas of Adamstown, Frederick County, Maryland. During the 1930s, the Thomases moved to a home on Brooks Avenue, Gaithersburg, where Irvin worked as a manager at the Thomas & Co. warehouse. Irvin died in March of 1937; later that year Margaret returned to teaching, beginning her thirty year career with the Montgomery County Public School system. She taught at several schools around the county, and by 1963 she was teaching Home Arts at Edwin W. Broome Junior High, in the Twinbrook neighborhood of Rockville. She retired at the end of the 1967-68 school year.

Just a few of the pamphlets and brochures in Mrs. Thomas's collection.

Just a few of the pamphlets and brochures in Mrs. Thomas’s collection.

Most of the materials in this small collection (donated by Mrs. Thomas’s daughter, Barbara Thomas Lima) relate to these years at Broome Jr High, including recipes, knitting patterns, home furnishing books, and other resources for teaching home economics, as well as correspondence related to her pension. Along with these pieces there are also fun tidbits like notes on upcoming quizzes; a hall pass, written on the back of a recipe for ginger snaps; a letter thanking her for mentoring a student teacher from her alma mater, Hood College; and a 1963 report by Mrs. Thomas and her fellow Home Arts teacher Laura Burruss on how they dealt with classroom overcrowding.

Left: notes on "Cookies, Grade 9." Right: "Four Classes, Three Rooms, Four Teachers," a 1963 report on dealing with overcrowding.

Left: notes on “Cookies, Grade 9.” Right: “Four Classes, Three Rooms, Four Teachers,” a 1963 report on dealing with overcrowding.

(A side note on Broome Junior High: Named for Dr. Edwin W. Broome (1885-1956), a long-time County Superintendent, the school opened in 1957 in the rapidly growing suburbs of Rockville. It was a busy, full school for many years – as Mrs. Thomas’s 1963 “Four Classes, Three Rooms, Four Teachers” report attests – but by the late 1970s, the surrounding neighborhoods had aged; Broome closed in 1981, and its remaining students were moved to nearby Wood Junior High. The building, on Twinbrook Parkway, is still standing, used now as offices and storage space for county agencies.)

Saved along with these contemporary resources were three earlier items, dating from Mrs. Thomas’s college courses: A report titled “Textile Notes,” another report on house styles (with lots of red pencil; she seems to have done better with textiles), and our Textile Classification study card set. Perhaps she used these items in her teaching . . . or perhaps she simply kept them on hand to remind herself what it’s like to be student, studying home economics and trying to remember fifty different types of fabric.

A page from Margaret Ravenolt's architectural styles report, circa 1920s.

A page from Margaret Ravenolt’s architectural styles report, circa 1920s.

 

I was already planning to feature Mrs. Thomas’s small collection this week when I learned that, coincidentally, yesterday was Teacher Appreciation Day. So take today’s post as a reminder to appreciate your favorite teachers, past and present, no matter what subject! And please, if any of my readers remember Mrs. Thomas – or anyone else at Broome – or any Home Arts teachers around the county, share those memories with us!

 

… I know you wanted to see the hall pass, and I’ll oblige:

Hall pass

x20080704Today we have an impressively-titled history textbook, used in Barnesville: History of the United States, from Their First Settlement as Colonies to the Peace with Mexico, in 1848, Comprising Every Important Political Event; with a Progressive View of the Aborigines; Population, Agriculture, and Commerce; of the Arts, Sciences, and Literature; and Occasional Biographies of the most Remarkable Colonists, Writers and Philosophers, Warriors and Statesmen.  Accompanied by a Book of Questions and a Key, By William Grimshaw, Author of a History of England, &c., published in Philadelphia by J.B. Lippincott & Co., 1858, and donated to MCHS by Mary Beth Fleming.

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Thanks to some pencil notations inside, we know that this book was owned by a Mary Jane Knott of Barnesville. Ms. Knott, or another user, also added some mathmetical equations, doodled faces, and other scribbles, as you do.  The cardboard covers and leather spine show a lot of wear, the page edges are torn, and in fact the pages and the cover are completely separated; this book has seen a lot of wear, and it seems likely that it was read and studied by more than one student over the decades.  However, only Mary Jane identified herself in writing.

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Though this seems like a nice, specific piece of info (I do like people who write their names and hometowns in books), there are at least two possibilities for our original owner:  Mary Jane Knott of Barnesville, born in 1854 to Stanislaus and Bridget Knott, died unmarried in 1935; and Mary Jane Cissell, born in 1845 and married in 1862 to Francis Knott of Barnesville.  I lean a little more toward the former, but who’s to say that Mrs. Knott didn’t take up the study of history after her marriage (or write her name in her stepdaughter Sarah’s book)?

My favorite part is the fact that, out of all the possible images from U.S. history to use on the cover, the author or editors chose an illustration of Mount Vernon.  Our new exhibit on the colonial revival movement (at the Beall-Dawson House through May 15, 2014) includes a small section on representations of George Washington and his home throughout the centuries – so of course I had to add Mary Jane’s textbook to the display.  Come visit; you can see the adorable (if slightly inaccurate) “Mount Vernon” picture in person! If you’d like to read the history yourself, here’s a list of the prolific Mr. Grimshaw’s books, many of which are available online.

x20080704-5 Mt Vernon

During the research and writing of our laundry exhibit, two themes quickly came to the forefront: Laundry can be difficult, unpleasant work, and it’s much better to get someone else to do it for you.  Today’s artifact will be a familiar one to many of you; those who don’t recognize it instantly will soon see its worth, for who among us has not, at least once, attempted to have our parent, child, sibling, spouse, or roommate do our laundry?

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This is an Airway laundry case, from the early 1950s.  It measures 21″ x 12″ by 6.5″, and is made of brown fiberboard, with metal-reinforced corners and a double cotton-twill strap.  A 1950 advertisement for a variety of Airway cases describes this option as a “21-Inch Heavy Fiber Laundry Case. It’s reinforced with riveted metal corners and will withstand a weight of 350 pounds, so it will travel far and often for you. Comes in brown. $3.95.”

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Use wear on the corners; the case “traveled far and often,” but at some cost to its structure.

Laundry cases and boxes such as this one were designed for sending laundry through the mail.  The boxes were reusable, and postage costs were often cheaper than local laundry services or Laundromats – such convenience!  Just send your dirty clothes home to Mother, and she’ll send clean clothes back in the same box! Though not exclusively used by college students, this system was certainly popular on campuses around the country, sometimes making up the bulk of a school’s – or even town’s – postal business.  By the 1970s, home (and college) laundry equipment had improved enough, and was common enough, that the practice faded, although I bet there are still some college kids who mail their laundry home.*

Our example was donated by Pat Herman Douglas, a long-time county resident (and MCHS library volunteer) who grew up in Washington, DC and attended Western Maryland College in Westminster, Md., class of 1954.  The box lid includes a metal mailing label holder; though the last-used postage stamp is too faded to read, another stamp gives us the date “Feb 8 1954,” and the typed address label (which includes this helpful fact, “More people are using Airway Laundry Cases than any other Laundry Case”) shows us that its final journey was from the Herman home in DC back to the college.  As recommended by the July 1953 Official Postal Guide, both the lid and the case are also labeled with Miss Herman’s home address.

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Mailing label – “Extra cards may be purchased from U.S. Travelwear Corp, Manchester, NH.”

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A typed and taped-in label on the underside of the lid: “Property of Miss Pat Herman, 4514 Yuma St NW, Washington 16 D.C.”

The box is still sturdy and stable, but it clearly got some use over the years; this wasn’t a novelty item, or one of those things you think you’ll need and then never end up using.  The donor provided us with some great info about laundry during her college career, 1950-54: The school didn’t have student-use laundry facilities, so while you could take your sheets and linens to be washed at the school laundry, you were on your own for everything else.  There was a Laundromat in Westminster, a long walk away; you might take your easy-to-wash whites (e.g., socks and underwear) there, especially if you could get someone to give you a ride, but for other things – Pat cited wool sweaters, specifically – it was easier and cheaper to mail them off to be done at home, where someone had the expertise and time to do the laundry right.

Western Maryland College – now McDaniel College – has a lot of its archival material scanned and available on the internet.  I’ve had an entertaining time today, looking up “laundry” and “laundromat” in the 1950-1954 catalogs, yearbooks, and newspapers; indeed, one of the patrons in the 1954 yearbook is the “Laundromat,” and the student newspapers include several references to the need for improved laundry facilities.  (There’s even an envious piece in the October 3, 1950 edition of The Gold Bug about a new dorm, equipped with Bendix washers, at Gettysburg College.)

Unlike many of our no-longer-common artifacts, laundry cases are fairly well represented on the internet.  The National Postal Museum has a nice blog post about cases from the USPS perspective, and memories of laundry cases are included in student-life stories and transcripts from colleges such as St. Olaf, Wellesley, and the University of Iowa.  Laundry really is everywhere.

*(Instead of simply waiting until the end of the semester, and bringing it all home at once.)

School’s in session once again, so let’s take a look at some early Montgomery County homework.  Our collections include two handwritten exercise books created by a young man attending Damascus area schools, circa 1850.

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Both books are bound with marbled-paper cardboard covers, with leather spines and corners, and measure 12.5” x 8”.  They’re the 19th century version of the composition notebook, basically.  The owner carefully inscribed the title pages with the subject, school, and teacher, as well as his name:

LAB title pages Left: “Larkin A. Beall’s Book. Containing Gauging, Mensuration, Geometry, & Surveying.  As taught by E. Thompson preceptor of Mountradnor School.”  Right: “Double Entry Book Keeping By Larkin A. Beall As Taught by E. Thompson Preceptor & Teacher of Mathematics In Mountradnor School Montgomery County, Md.” (Please note the extra flourishes, which are hard to transcribe.) The bookkeeping notebook also contains a section on mensuration and geometry; those pages are noted, “Larkin A. Beall, [various dates] 1854, James Purdum, Preceptor and teacher at Pleasant Plains School, Montgomery County, Md.” (See below.)  In addition, the names F.E. Beall, Horace Beall, and James O. Etchison are noted in different hands, though Larkin seems to have been the original, and primary, creator.  Dated pages range from 1848 to 1854.

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These were likely workbooks, in which students took dictation, made notes, and solved problems.  Some sections may have been written by the instructor, including notes referencing a printed textbook, and instructions for exercises.

DSC05795 “Exercises in Journalizing
Transaction   |   Journalizing
[pointing hand] Note Refer to the page 172, 173 fur further perticulars under this head” (errors original)

These workbooks give me a lot to cover: schools, study subjects, and people.  Though geometry – specifically, measuring solids – takes up much of the books, I’m going to focus on the bookkeeping section; after all, it’s not often I can say that something was invented in 14th century Italy.  I’ve spoken to two separate people in the last month who have praised the delights of double-entry bookkeeping.  I suspect the satisfaction a bookkeeper derives from a balanced ledger is akin to my own when I match up a set of mystery artifacts with the appropriate paperwork.  However, I do not personally understand this age-old method, so let’s let E. Thompson explain it (all spelling and grammatical errors are from the original):

part second PART SECOND
Double Entry Book Keeping

Double Entry
This term is derived from the fact that every business transacted recorded in the Day book is entered twice in the Ledger one on the debtor and once on the creditor side

Debtor And Creditor
These terms are correlative, the one implies and involve the other  Wherever there is a debtor there must necessarily be a creditor of an equal amount; and wherever there is a creditor there must be a debtor

Application of Debtor and Creditor
In single entry these terms are (with the exception of cash only applied to persons, but in double entry they are applied alike to persons and property, the persons being made [a] debtor for what you have trusted them, and creditor for wat they have paid or trusted you; and the property account being made debtor for the balance or cost of the property, and credit for what it produced when disposed of

On to the people.  Larkin A. Beall (b. 1836) was one of ten children born to Elisha and Alethea Lewis Beall; he grew up on a farm between Damascus and Browningsville (off present-day Bethesda Church Road).  Several of Larkin’s brothers are referenced in the notebooks; Horace and Franklin added their own names, and Larkin noted the deaths of John in 1852 and Evan in 1860.  (There’s also a side note in one of the books about three feet of snow that fell in 24 hours on February 20th, 1854.)  By the early 1860s, Larkin had moved to Washington, DC to pursue a career in retail, with a shop on 7th Street. City records from the 1860s and 1870s describe him variously as “clothier,” “merchant,” “[in] hats,” and “dealer in gents’ furnishing goods.”  Good thing he studied double-entry bookkeeping!

Larkin referenced two Damascus area schools in his workbooks.  E. Guy Jewell, in his manuscript “Damascus: Small But Lively” (1974), identified Mount Radnor as having “stood on the west side of Ridge Road near the intersection of Gue Road” from as early as 1839 until the site was sold to the county school board in the late 1870s.  The Pleasant Plains School was in Purdum, on the other side of Damascus, off present-day Mountain View Road.  (Note that both of these schools were for white children only; Pleasant Plains should not be confused with Pleasant Grove, Purdum’s African American school, which opened in 1869.)

There are two teachers listed in the 1850 census for this election district, but neither of Larkin’s preceptors are among them.  Jewell noted, “Many of the men teachers had their own small farm and taught school for the little extra cash each year.  Remember, the school law then limited teachers’ salaries to ‘not more than $300 per annum.’” With that in mind, 52 year old Elijah Thompson and 37 year old James Purdum, both “farmers” in the 1850 census, become likely candidates for Larkin Beall’s instructors.

Why did Larkin switch schools between 1849 and 1854? Maybe Pleasant Plains opened around that time, and was easier to reach. However, the Bealls lived about halfway between the schools (as the crow flies / as the teenage boy walks across neighbors’ fields), so distance may not have been a factor.  Perhaps one teacher was more congenial, or had a better reputation for mathematical skills.  Although there are a few side notes in the books (see: deaths of brothers, and depth of snow, above), there are few clues to the reason for the switch.

The books were donated to MCHS in 1978 by Lawrence Walter, who informed us that he received them from Miss Estella Drane (1865-1955), a DC school teacher.  Unfortunately (for me, since I like the whole story) it’s not clear how Miss Drane acquired them.

So, children, as you begin this school year full of enthusiasm and excitement, follow Larkin Beall’s example to keep that enthusiasm from flagging as the year progresses: Either take the time to make your notes pretty, with elaborate fonts (not at the expense of your attention span, of course!) . . . or be glad you don’t have to hand-write a textbook’s worth of notes.

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“Directions for posting.”

The month of May is both National Scrapbooking Month and International Storytelling Month.  Those go together quite nicely, I think, and to illustrate that, here is a charming little scrapbook from our archives: Ethel Grove Van Hoesen’s album, titled “Living and Teaching in Maryland from 1917 to 1940.”
cover and title

The album has stamped suede covers and a plastic spiral binding; a label in the back informs us that it was purchased from Edward F. Gruver Co., “Paper Rulers and Book Binders,” in DC.  Inside is a mix of photos, newspaper clippings, and paper ephemera, often accompanied by handwritten notes and explanations.  The first few pages – clearly meant as an introduction to “Life and Teaching in Maryland” – contain poems about gardening, teachers, homes, and retirement, plus a 1934 highway map of the county, and the lyrics to “Maryland My Maryland.”  Though there is some order to the contents, the scrapbook has the appearance of having been created all at once, from a stash of saved bits and pieces; one page, for example, consists of a snapshot dated 1922, a 1930 map of Capitol View, and a newspaper “fun fact” from the Washington Evening Star, November 22, 1939.  Other pages are more traditional photo-album style, with chatty little descriptions.

not a good pictureNot good pictures – but from left to right Anne – Helen Rector – Ethel Van Hoesen. 2d row – Sophie [her daughter-in-law] – Margaret – Elizabeth. 3rd row – Sophie Philip [her granddaughter] – Minnie -.  Brad [her son] taking the picture”

Both Ethel Grove and her husband Fred Van Hoesen were born in Franklinville, NY in 1870.  They married in 1892, and had one son, James Bradley (“Brad”).  Mr. Van Hoesen first trained as a clergyman, but he switched careers at some point, and in 1917 he was appointed as the first Cooperative Extension Agent in Montgomery County.  (More about the Extension Service, and Mr. Van Hoesen’s work, can be found here.)  The family lived in Rockville for several years; after Mr. Van Hoesen’s 1924 death, Mrs. Van Hoesen moved with her son’s family to Forest Glen.

forest glen 1943” The station and Post Office [at Forest Glen] as it looks today (1943).  No longer bevies of young ladies crowd its platform; but in their stead groups of convalescent soldiers dot the spacious N.P.C. grounds.  N.P.C. [National Park College] beloved by many ‘old girls’ has been bought by the Gov’t.  It houses hundreds of soldiers wounded in every battle of this global war.”

Mrs. Van Hoesen was a life-long teacher.  Her obituary states that she began teaching at age 18; an 1892 Franklinville census shows that she was still teaching shortly after her marriage.  The 1910, 1920, and 1930 censuses all give her occupation as “teacher, public school.”  In Montgomery County she taught at Woodside, Bethesda, Slidell, and Cabin John Elementary Schools.  When she was appointed to the one-room Slidell school in 1930, she moved upcounty (Slidell is in the Barnesville/Beallsville/Dickerson vicinity) to a farmhouse called “Sky View.”  The scrapbook includes many photos of the house, school, and neighborhood, and several pages are taken up with handwritten lists of her students for each year.
slidell school 1934“Slidell School April 5, 1934 – with and without the teacher” (Can you spot Mrs. Van Hoesen?)

In 1939 the Slidell school was closed, and Mrs. Van Hoesen moved back downcounty to teach in Cabin John.  She retired in 1940 (though she continued to substitute-teach for a few years), and bought a house in Capitol View; she died in 1949, and was buried next to her husband in Franklinville, NY.  In the 1960s, Brad’s wife Sophie gave the Society a large collection of artifacts and archival material related to her in-laws, including this little book.
Shady Nook‘Shady Nook’ A retired teacher buys a new home No 6 Lee St. Capitol View, Maryland. with summer shade”

Mrs. Van Hoesen saw a variety of life in the county, her adopted home.  She taught in both suburban and rural schools, and kept up with her students’ later lives, as demonstrated by the notations (“married Gladys Smith.”  “Poolesville High class ‘44.”) included in lists of pupils’ names. Her neighbors and friends, former students, colleagues of her husband from the Extension Service, people from her church, notable county residents, even Evalyn Walsh McLean (who evidently was “kind to Jack Thompson”) are represented through photos, wedding announcements, human interest stories, and obituaries.  There’s a magazine article about Sugarloaf Mountain, the program from the 1934 Annual Meeting of the Homemakers’ Clubs of Montgomery County, a drawing of White’s Ferry by her daughter-in-law, a “Barnaby” comic about washing machines, and snapshots of people, buildings, roads, and views that were important to the book’s creator.  Throughout, Mrs. Van Hoesen’s ink notations keep us informed of who did what and when: “The house was painted in 1932.” “This is where I go to church.” “Mr. Knott did not know he was getting in the picture – we are glad to have him – he was one of Slidell’s best friends.”  Though this scrapbook doesn’t necessarily read like a traditional narrative, it is telling us a story all the same.

20130514125920_00012A map, photo, and story about Sugarloaf Mountain.

animal neighbors“A few of my animal neighbors” in Slidell, 1930s.

20130514125920_00004A page of miscellany, including an article about a fellow Woodside teacher’s retirement; the 1936 marriage notice of Mr. Van Hoesen’s counterpart, former Montgomery County Home Demonstration Agent Blanche Corwin; and a 1930 campaign card for a “farmer, teacher, and business woman” running for office in Nebraska.  (I wish there was a handwritten note about Mrs. Himes, but I can see the possible connections to Mrs. VH’s life there.)

I started work on a nice, long blog post this morning, then realized that I should hold onto it until July 2013 when this particular artifact will be 200 years old.  (And you’ll just have to wait a few months to find out what it is!)  Instead, here’s a quick look at some of the cataloging work that’s been going on ‘behind the scenes’ in the curator’s office – specifically, one of the fun things we’ve found.

x146811This winter’s in-depth cataloging project is books: textbooks, novels, picture books, cookbooks, and the like, owned and used by local people.  We have a largeish set of textbooks from Rose K. Dawson of Rockville, including many used in the 1910s-20s at the Rockville Academy by her brothers, Walter and Joe, and by family friend William Ross.  Ross, a Native American from South Dakota, came to live with the Dawsons when that family moved here in 1911; they lived at Rocky Glen, Mr. Dawson’s family home in Rockville.  Ross’s story is a good one, and I’ll include more of it in a future post; for now, let’s just say that he liked to write in his textbooks.  The Dawson boys did too, but Ross’s books are particularly scribbled-in.  (As someone whose class notes, if not necessarily school-property books, were always covered in doodles, I sympathize.)   Flipping through this copy of Higher Lessons in English:  A work on English Grammar and Composition, In which the Science of the Language is Made Tributary to the Art of Expression - A Course of Practical Lessons Carefully Graded, and Adapted to Every-Day Use in the School-Room  (Reed & Kellogg, 1909), one finds repeated iterations of “Bill Ross, Rockville Maryland,” the date 1919, and – fantastically – this page:

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Though it seems unlikely that a teacher would chastise a student by having him write “I must keep my seat” in his textbook, even a book that the Dawsons had purchased (like this one), perhaps Ross was simply continuing his written punishment in a slightly rebellious manner, or out of boredom.  Just from this one little page, I feel like the window of the past is a little clearer – always remember that our ancestors were people, not simply collections of genealogical facts. Of course, our official stance is “Don’t write in books, kids!” . . . but, actually, go ahead and write in your books.  (In moderation.) Future historians may thank you!

This year marks the 40th anniversary of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which reads in part: “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”  Essentially: if you let boys do it, you’d better let girls do it too… and while you’re at it, don’t just allow it, encourage equal participation.

Many longer and more thorough reports than mine have been written on the effects of Title IX and its current rate of success.  (Last week’s Gazette had an interesting series, including several local accounts.)  Though much of the popular focus has been on improvements in athletic opportunities, it’s worth remembering that Title IX applies to academics as well.  However, our collections are best suited for an example of the growth of women’s sports in county schools, so until someone donates a nice 1973 shop-class project by their mother or aunt (hint, hint), let’s take a look at a sport uniform.

This cotton/nylon jersey was worn by a currently unknown female student at Northwood High School in Silver Spring, in the mid-late 1970s.  Happily, our library has a large collection of local school yearbooks, and the yearbooks for Northwood in 1973, ‘74, ‘75, ‘76 and ‘78 (sorry, we’re missing a year) give us some clues as to this jersey’s history.  (A full-on study of athletics at any given school requires more sources than just the yearbooks, of course, but I was mostly looking for pictures of uniforms; and hey, yearbooks are fun.)

Northwood High School opened in 1956, closed in 1985 due to declining student-age population in the area, then reopened in 2004 when the neighborhood once again required it.  In the 1970s, the school colors were black and red, and the team name was the Indians.  (Today the colors are the same, but the school mascot is a Gladiator.)  The Arrowhead yearbook gives a hint of the sports available for girls each year*.  In 1973, girls are shown participating only in swimming and gymnastics, though other teams (perhaps intramural) probably existed.  Only a year later, though, there are pages for girls’ tennis, field hockey, basketball, volleyball and softball.  The young women on the basketball teams (just one team at first, later the Junior Varsity team) in 1974-1978 are wearing jerseys like this one; the style also shows up on a softball player in the only photo of that sport included in 1974; by 1983 other uniforms have replaced it.  Two #44s appear in the books, whom I won’t call out in case they don’t want their names randomly appearing on the internet (although, hey ladies, if this is your jersey please let me know!).

I didn’t find any references specifically to Title IX, but the tone of the mid 1970s books does give a sense that yes, there is a new interest in, and attitude toward, girls’ athletics.  In 1976 that attitude (perhaps because of that year‘s editor?) is particularly evident.  That year, the girls’ basketball team had switched from a female to a male coach, a point which is emphasized in the yearbook: “He proved that men too can make good coaches for an all-girls’ sport involving skill and talent.”  The cross-country page features this headline: “Cross Country Team Includes Girl Runners” and, only a few sentences after informing us that one of those ‘girl runners’ was a state champion, the author points out that the (male) coach “expressed his lack of male chauvinism by insisting that the girls receive the credit due them.”  2012 gives that a sarcastic “gee, thanks,” but depending on the school’s culture at that time, such an “insistence” may have been highly progressive.  Happily, by 1978 the novelty of serious girls’ teams seems to have worn off, at least in the Arrowhead.

*Comparing the numbers and types of sports available to the county’s public school students since the late 19th century is actually quite interesting, and there were many girls’ teams in the early-mid 20th century… but that will have to wait for a later article.

If it’s the first Wednesday of the month, it must be postcard week!

Here’s a nice view of “The Mountains from Clarksburg.” It might even be an accurate view, unlike the images shown on many of the “Greetings From [Your Town Here]” cards, since you’d think a generic card would try harder to show some of the promised mountains. (Nothing against our lovely Blue Ridge!) Though Clarksburg has recently been developed, there are still views like this to be had in the area.

The card is postmarked Burdette, Md, 1912. Burdette was a small community near Boyds and Clarksburg, with a post office, school, and hotel. Addressed to Miss Rose Dawson, Rockville, Mont Co, Md., the message reads:

Hello Rose, Guess you miss Miss Hepburn lots don’t you? Really I don’t miss her half so much as I do the girls, especially “tu.” Ray W.

Rose Kiger Dawson (1896-1979) grew up in South Dakota, and moved back to her father’s home, Rockville, in 1911. (Her arrival dress has been featured here before.) She attended Rockville High School, a.k.a. Montgomery County H.S.; today it is Richard Montgomery H.S.

The first yearbook or annual published by the school came out in 1927; for earlier years, we have to rely on other sources for tidbits about school life. Though the postmark is too blurry to get the exact date, this card has a “school’s out for summer” vibe to it; in fact the message reads, to me, a lot like the kind of thing you write in your friend’s yearbook, hoping to keep yourself in their mind for the few months before school starts again.

“Miss Hepburn” was Alice E. Hepburn, one of the teachers at Rockville High School in the 1910s and early 1920s. I haven’t found too much about her, though she appears in faculty lists, annual reports, and the occasional “Society” article, and in the 1920 census can be found boarding with another teacher in Rockville. One presumes that she taught French, unless Ray W. was being particularly coy. Depending on how you read the message, either Miss Hepburn and Rose had a nice teacher-student bond . . . or they really didn’t.

Above: Members of the Rockville High School faculty, circa 1914.  Though not all of the people have been identified, Miss Hepburn is in the back row at the far right.

As for Ray W., for now he is lost to history, though one assumes he lived in Montgomery County. Perhaps he and his family spent the summer at the High View House Hotel in Burdette?

[edited: to remove mistaken reference to a train station]

June is the traditional time for many things, from weddings to graduations. It’s also the month of recitals. After a year of study, it’s time to show off what you’ve learned, be it music, recitation (hence “recital”), or some other skill. In that spirit, and in honor of my readers about to embark on a spring recital – or with fond (?) memories of recitals past – here are a few items related to The Dance.

“Mrs. L.N. Vassilief and her Ballet Dancing Class invite you and your friends to the Recital, Given at the Rockville High School, June 7th, 1924.”

Ludmila Vassilief can be found in the 1930 census, along with husband Leonid and daughters Tatiana and Irene, living on the “Darnestown Pike” (Route 28). Both the senior Vassiliefs were born in Russia, and emigrated to the US in 1916. Mrs. Vassilief was almost certainly training her students in the Russian method of ballet, today known as the Vaganova school and one of the more popular styles of classical ballet in America.

Appearing many times on the program are the Hasselblatt sisters, Nelly and Tamara, who were also born in Russia. In 1920 they were living with their parents and siblings on a farm in Hunting Hill, outside Rockville on the Darnestown Pike. By the 1930 census Tamara Hasselblatt Dmietrieff, “music teacher,” was lodging with the Mann family in DC. As for her piano pupil, Catherine Dawson (#3 in your program), the Dawsons lived between Rockville and Hunting Hill on Route 28. We have a copy of Catherine’s 1922 diary, and Tamara is mentioned several times; she was giving French lessons to the younger girl at the Hasselblatt home. (Catherine also practiced her piano diligently, at least according to her diary, and apparently it paid off: a solo in the recital!)

As of now, this little program is the only evidence of Mrs. Vassilief’s dance school that I can find. Jumping ahead twenty years, a number of dance schools can be found in the 1949 Rockville (And Vicinity) Directory, neatly sandwiched between Dairies and Dead Animal Removal (!) – click to enlarge and read:

I realize that these blog posts often get very detailed on the people history (hey, I’m an anthropologist at heart) and a little light on the artifact history. Let me redress that with a little pointe shoe.

(Seriously little: it’s only 7 inches long.)

Though a staple of classical ballet today, pointe or toe shoes are not as old as the dance itself. Marie Taglioni, a celebrity ballerina in 1830s-40s Paris, brought what was previously a momentary trick – rising all the way up to your toes – into the mainstream, and only then were shoes designed to facilitate this style of dance. By the early 20th century the modern, stiffened-box shoe was in place.

This pair of shoes belonged to the donor (now a Montgomery County resident) in 1932, probably in Wyoming or Colorado; she was four years old at the time. The scuffs and stains show that they were really worn, not just a cute prop.  Thanks to the interior label, we can see that the shoes were patented by Barney S. Bonaventure of New York in 1925. In reading his patent application for a “new and useful Toe Slipper,” I can appreciate the thought he put into making a more comfortable, flexible pointe shoe (having worn them at times myself). There’s nothing said about making them available to toddlers, but it’s probable that in the 1920s, teeny tiny pointe shoes were to be expected. Today, however, the majority of teachers in the various schools and traditions of ballet suggest that students wait until the bones in their feet have finished growing, and until their strength and technique is sufficient to support them (often around 12 years old). Pointe is no joke!

If you’re interested in the history of pointe work within the ballet world, there are some additional links below.  Interested in the history of dance in Montgomery County?  Come help me do some fun research!

An overview of the use of pointe technique throughout ballet history -

A 2011 argument for viewing pointe shoes as “technological artifacts” -

And some famous ballet shoes at the Bata Shoe Museum.

The quest to include every possible National [something] Week or Month continues! National Bike Month (May) is sponsored by the League of American Bicyclists, a group that traces its founding to 1880 as the League of American Wheelmen (LAW). This national group had local chapters and divisions, and held annual “meets” where members participated in races, training, and occasional lobbying. (The LAW is often credited with helping to get roads paved across the country, before the advent of the automobile.)

These two ribbons (identical except for the extra metal badges or charms on the left) came from the 13th Annual LAW Meet, held in Washington, DC in 1892. Both also include the awesome slogan (catchphrase?) of the Arlington Wheelmen: “Wha! Who! Wha!!” My assumption is that this group was from Arlington, Virginia, though some sources indicate they were based in DC.  The ribbons were donated to MCHS by John Sumner Wood, Sr., who was born too late to have participated in this meet himself; unfortunately, we don’t know if they came from his family, or if he collected cycling-related memorabilia.  As always, click the photos to get a better look.

Cycling history enthusiasts can find a variety of LAW journals and Sporting Life newspapers online; I haven’t found one that details the activities of the Arlington Wheelmen (though they are mentioned in various cycling races during the 1890s), but the Federal Highway Administration’s day-by-day history describes the 1892 meet:

“In addition to holding parades, conducting championship bicycle races, and visiting the White House, participants lobb[ied] for General Roy Stone’s bill calling for a National Highway Commission to make a ‘general inquiry into the condition of highways in the United States, and means for their improvement, and especially the best method of securing a proper exhibit at the World’s Columbian Exposition of approved appliances for road making, and of providing for public instruction in the art during the Exposition.’”

Why the need for a national organization that lobbied for the rights of cyclists? Bicycles were all the rage in the late 1800s – according to the Smithsonian’s Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation, one-third of all 1890s patent applications were related to cycling technology – but they were somewhat controversial. Safety was a concern; bikes could be dangerous to riders, especially to those untrained in their use, and the perception was that they were also hazardous to pedestrians and passersby. Also, horror of horrors, women liked to ride them! (A funny modern take on this controversy can be found here; a review of a more scholarly look at the topic, here.) The bicycle brought new freedoms to women daring enough to embrace it, and many did.

Alas, I couldn’t find any photos of Montgomery County women taking their velocipedes, penny-farthings or safety-bicycles out for a spin, though perhaps there are some editorials (for or against) in the Sentinel; I’ll have to start looking. In the meantime, enjoy a few historic photos of young men and their bicycles, from our collections.

A bicycle race at the Rockville fairgrounds, circa 1915.  Photo by Lewis Reed; glass negatives donated by the Reed and Gartner families.

Students and faculty of the Andrew Small Academy, Darnestown, circa 1895; the older boys at each end are holding their bicycles.  Donated by Patricia Griffith Biondi.

My favorite: A group of youths pose with their bicycles – and, oddly enough, some miscellaneous produce – probably at the Rockville fairgrounds, circa 1895.  Left to right: Stephen Lyddane, Worthington Talbott, Steve Quigley, Lee Dorsey, Leonard Nicholson, John Brewer Jr., Henry Dawson.

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