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.”
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 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.
” 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 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’ 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.
A 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.)