We have a number of 19th and 20th century dolls in the collections; a few, including Kathryn Brown’s bisque and composition baby doll and Billy Hazard’s much-loved composition and fabric “Earl,” have been featured here before.  Today we have a doll of similar vintage to those two, but of different construction: a wood-bodied, metal-jointed Schoenhut doll from the 1920s. R2001.20.09 waving hello

Albert Schoenhut of Pennsylvania patented his “All-Wood Doll” in 1911. The metal joints allowed these dolls to be easily posed in relatively realistic ways. As his patent description explains,

My invention relates to toy figures, manikins, jointed dolls, and the like, and the object of my invention is to provide a structure of this character with means serving to articulate the several members, such means being of a character as to insure the maximum degree of friction whereby the several limbs and portions of the same may be turned and held in various positions assumed by such turning operations without danger of disarrangement except at the desire of the person using the toy, doll, or jointed figure.  In addition, the means which I have provided for articulating the structure are so arranged as to insure movement of the several limbs substantially in accord with the movement of the several limbs of the human body.

In simpler terms, a child could have Dollie stand on one leg and she’d stay that way until it was time for a new pose. A 1921 advertisement in Scribner’s Magazine shows several energetically posed dolls, and touts these features of “the world’s only educational doll”:

Made entirely from wood.  Painted in enamel oil colors which can be cleaned with a damp rag. Fully jointed with the new patented steel spring hinge, with double spring tension and swivel connections. No rubber cord whatever. Full joints at wrists and ankles. A unique foot pedestal by means of which the doll stands by itself. Real mohair wigs – blonde or Tosca or carved hair handpainted. Eyes either fixed or movable. Either conventional or natural child faces.

Our particular doll is a 15” model, with a “natural child face” (also known as a “character” face) and a Tosca (reddish-colored) mohair wig. The maker’s mark is inscribed on her shoulder blades: “Schoenhut & Co., Pat Jan 17 ’11 USA and Foreign Countries.”  Like most survivors of childhood play she’s missing some original features, including her union suit and foot pedestal, but she’s otherwise in pretty good shape.  She’s dressed in a cute purple floral swatch (the fabric is not actually sewn into a dress), topped with a cape and bonnet crocheted from white wool, and has some gold-colored bobby pins in her hair.

R2001.20.09 closeup

The doll – unfortunately, we did not get its name – belonged to Frances Brown Brosius, born in 1919 to Carroll and Isabelle Brown of Forest Glen.  In the early 1920s, the Browns moved to the Neelsville area (between Clarksburg and Germantown), where Mr. Brown managed several local farms. Frances attended Cedar Grove Elementary School through seventh grade, then went to Gaithersburg High School.  (She may be one of the students in the photo below, showing Cedar Grove students in 1927; anyone recognize her?)

MCHS Library collections, from Denise Wilson

Cedar Grove School, 1927. MCHS Library collections, from Denise Wilson

Mrs. Brosius lived in Silver Spring after her marriage, and in 2001 she donated a large collection of her family’s farm tools, household goods, toys, and other pieces (here’s her father’s fish) to the Historical Society.  This doll came with a trunk, some doll-sized furniture and accessories, and a few other pieces of clothing, saved from Mrs. Brosius’s childhood – and perhaps played with by her own children. The 1921 Schoenhut ad begins, “The child’s greatest tragedy is the breaking of the new doll or of the old favorite. . . . A Schoenhut doll will outlast [cheaper dolls] many times over.” Unlike many of the dolls in our collections, this young lady is still sturdy and unbroken – Mr. Schoenhut’s promise would seem to have held true.

To see a few other examples of Schoenhut dolls, here’s a bit from everyone’s favorite antiques show featuring four dolls from the 1910s. Right now you can also see our unnamed young lady in person, on display in the Beall-Dawson House children’s bedroom.



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.)

Today’s artifacts, a ceramic teacup and bread plate, come from the National Park Seminary (NPS), a late 19th – early 20th century girls’ school in Forest Glen. Both pieces are marked in gold with the Greek letters Chi Psi Upsilon. The bread plate is stamped on the reverse with the maker’s mark for Warwick China Co. of Wheeling, WV (1887-1951). They were donated to MCHS by Helen Gruver Kline, NPS class of 1921.

The Seminary is one of those Montgomery County places that bring just a hint of mystery to the landscape. In this case, the mystery tends to be either “What is that fancy, old-looking building you can see from the Beltway?” or “Did we really just drive past a pagoda?” The short answers are: 1) A fancy hotel/school/condo development, and 2) Yes. As for the long answers…

The first building at NPS was actually a resort hotel, Ye Forest Inne, built in 1887 to take advantage of the county’s new suburban railway. Many of these railroad hotels prospered, but the Forest Inne did not. It was purchased by Dr. and Mrs. Cassedy, experienced educators who opened the National Park Seminary, an elite girls’ preparatory school, on the site in 1894. Over the years additional dormitories, classroom buildings, and clubhouses (more on that in a bit) were built in and around the glen. The hilly, wooded landscape was dotted with picturesque bridges, romantic statuary, and elaborate architecture. Students came from across the country to take advantage of the school’s much-touted proximity to the culture and society of the Nation’s Capital.

The clubs, or sororities, at NPS were a unique feature – or, as the 1920-21 catalog phrased it, “peculiar and original with this school.” For one thing, they were not associated with national sororities; they were social clubs, with voluntary membership (no recruitment or hazing), created by the students and faculty to promote sociability, congeniality and the development of life skills. For another thing, each group’s clubhouse was built in a distinctive style. Thus a stroll through the NPS campus takes you past a Dutch windmill, a Swiss cottage, a “Spanish mission,” an English Colonial house, a bungalow, a “castle,” and, yes, a “Japanese” pagoda.

The Japanese Clubhouse pagoda was built in 1905 – in a style that veers a little more toward Chinese than Japanese, but what can you do. (Interestingly, the name was changed to the Chinese Pagoda during World War II.) It was home to the Chi Psi Upsilon club/sorority, and our teacup and plate were used here. I haven’t found a list of the club’s membership, but presumably our donor belonged to “Chi Psi U” during her years at NPS. (The 1920-21 school catalog does list Helen Russell Gruver of Washington D.C. amongst the registered students, but club affiliation is not inculded.) We have a nice assortment of catalogs, viewbooks, yearbooks, photo albums and scrapbooks in our library collections, allowing me to trace a little of the clubhouse history over time, but in the interest of brevity – or such brevity as I can muster – the images and text here come from the 1920-21 catalog/prospectus for potential and incoming students.

The broad purpose of the club system is summed up next to some of the photographs of the “artistically beautiful” houses: “The Clubs mean the sub-division of the school into small families with the mother-relation sustained in each. . . . A Student’s retreat for rest and recreation. A club girl learns how to work in organization; how to respond to the needs of community life; how to render efficient social service; how to be a companionable woman.” And finally, in case you, as a parent of a potential student, are still not convinced that it is worth the time and money to send June/Dorothy/Helen/Marian to school: “A companionable woman makes the best wife and mother.”

(Please don’t think I’m making fun of the school, its administration or its students – I’m not! The ins and outs, whys and wherefores of women’s education throughout history is fascinating to me, and I love NPS. A lot of very positive things came out of schools such as this one, and if convincing Mother and Father that an NPS education was the surest ticket to a good marriage with a diplomat’s son was the way to get things done, so be it.  I do my best to remember that the work of people like the Cassedys and Mrs. Kline gave Modern Me the space, distance and opportunity to be a teeny bit sneery.)

And what happened to the school? Well, to make a long story short, the campus was bought by the US Army early in World War II, and became the Walter Reed Hospital Annex; for many years, the classrooms, dormitories and grand spaces once occupied by young women were occupied instead by convalescing soldiers. Over the years the various structures fell into disrepair, and in the late 1980s members of the surrounding community formed Save Our Seminary, a group dedicated to finding new uses for the old buildings. Happily for those of us who love a bit of architectural variety in our suburbia, the remaining dorms, classrooms, clubhouses and support structures are in the midst of a major renovation. You can – if you choose and are able – live in the Seminary. (But I’m sorry, I believe the Pagoda has already been purchased!)

For more information – since here I have blithely whipped through 100+ years of the school’s history, and have hardly done it justice – please visit the Save Our Seminary site, or this site, created a few years ago by an NPS fan.

This fabulous garment is a green and pink cotton flannel cape, almost certainly worn by a participant in the 1913 Suffrage Parade in Washington, D.C.  Alas, I can only say “almost certainly.”  The cape was donated in 1968 by Miss Mildred N. Getty of Silver Spring.  Our various inventories and catalog cards from the 1960s and ’70s all say some version of “worn in a suffragette parade, DC”; some add that it was worn by Mrs. Louise Burr Getty (the donor’s mother) while riding horseback in said parade.  The question of ‘which parade’ is made somewhat easy by the fact that Mrs. Getty (who has appeared on this blog before) died in October 1913, meaning it most likely was the  Washington, D.C. parade held on March 3rd, 1913.

The National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) planned this large pageant/parade/demonstration for the day before President Wilson’s first inauguration, the point being, ‘look at all these people who were not able to choose the leader of their country.’  The event is generally credited to Alice Paul, though of course many other women worked hard to recruit and organize participants, secure a permit for Pennsylvania Avenue, design the tableaux, create the floats and costumes, etcetera.  Over 8,000 people took part in March 3rd event, which turned into a near-riot as the audience – anti-suffragists, supporters and curious on-lookers alike – swarmed the street and caused havoc until the U.S. Cavalry (called in from Fort Myer) rode in to restore order. 

The Washington Post covered the parade with some thoroughness. The descriptions of the NAWSA preparations* were fairly helpful as I attempted to discover the truth behind Mrs. Getty’s cape, but only in a general sense. Yes, there were many women riding on horseback – called the “Petticoat Cavalry” – and yes, some members of the cavalry were supposed to wear different colored capes, coordinating with the different parade divisions.  There were frequent mentions of “Washington society girls” and “prominent women” planning to take part, but Mrs. Getty’s name was not specifically mentioned.  A few articles noted that participants would include students from the National Park Seminary in Forest Glen – which the donor herself was attending in 1913 – but again, the Getty name was not mentioned. Our Seminary collections include some material from the early teens (and some was given by Miss Getty), but a quick survey did not reveal anything clearly related to the parade. 

The weekly Montgomery County Sentinel did not mention the parade at all in the issue following the event.  The week prior it said only, at the end of an article about the upcoming presidential inauguration, “On March 3rd, the suffragists will have a procession on Pennsylvania Avenue. . . . The novel scene will attract many to the city to see it.  A large number of persons of this county anticipate viewing the parade, providing the weather on that day is pleasant.”

The various authors of the Annals of Sandy Spring (1863-1962, six volumes) recorded the activities of residents of that neighborhood.  The work of Mrs. Caroline H. Miller in the formation and leadership of the Sandy Spring Women’s Suffrage Association (later the Woman Suffrage Association of Maryland) was duly noted.**  Knowing this, I checked the Annals for 1913 and indeed, there are several paragraphs about the “unique event” held on March 3rd.  Ten Sandy Spring residents, men and women, attended the parade.  The author decried the lack of police protection “which marred the effect of what otherwise would have been a wonderful pageant. [Altogether it was] an effective procession in which some of the finest women of the country took part.” 

Mrs. Getty, 1898. MCHS Library.

Thus we know that some Montgomery County residents took part in the parade, but there’s still no definite proof that Mrs. Getty was one of them. She was known to be a good rider, who raised and trained her own horses; she was a member of Grace Episcopal Church in Woodside; she belonged to the Silver Spring Home Interest Club – but of her personal politics we have no evidence, other than this cape. My predecessors’ catalog notes are helpful, but we don’t have quite that perfect chain of paperwork proving that we didn’t get the story wrong somewhere in the translation. I don’t really disbelieve it, but I want proof! So the search continues.

Reading the Post’s articles about the March 3rd parade was very, very interesting.  Even the various uses of “suffragist” and “suffragette” did not follow my expectations, as at least one leader declared that she preferred the seemingly-derogatory “suffragette.”  Organizers were concerned that all participants make a good impression, as they knew that the eyes of the world – many of them eager to find fault – would be upon them.  Nor was participation taken lightly; some women were afraid they’d lose their jobs, and others – many of them related to government and military officials – marched in spite of family objections. Counter-protests and pranks were planned ahead of time by those who wanted to see the cause, or just the women themselves, fail.  The descriptions of the march itself are downright harrowing; the women faced verbal and physical abuse from some of the crowd, but the marchers “for the most part kept their temper” as they passed “through two walls of antagonistic humanity.” 

One-half of a stereograph view of the parade, from the Library of Congress collections

* Unless otherwise noted, all quotes are from articles in the Washington Post, January – March 1913.  Many but not all come from “Suffragists Take City for Pageant” (March 2) and “Women’s Beauty, Grace and Art Bewilder the Capital” (March 4). Citations available if you need ‘em.

** Upon the group’s formation in 1888, the author of the Annals noted that it “started with a smaller membership than the well-known feminine independence of Sandy Spring would lead one to suppose possible.”