By Kyle Rogers, VNP intern
The Virginia Newspaper Project is happy to announce its collaboration with St. Catherine’s School in Richmond to film and digitize three of the historic school’s newspapers—The Scrap Basket, Odds ‘n’ Ends, and Arcadian—now available online on Virginia Chronicle. Founded in 1890 and owned and operated by the Episcopal Church Schools Corporation, St. Catherine’s is the oldest private, all-girls school in the City of Richmond. It serves girls age three through grade twelve, and its three independently published newspapers collectively span over ninety years of the institution’s history. Readers can follow the hyperlinks embedded in the following paragraphs to go directly to available issues of each of St. Catherine’s newspapers on Virginia Chronicle.
Twenty-one issues of St. Catherine’s oldest paper, The Scrap Basket (pub. 1927-40), that cover the years 1930–1940 are available for reading on Virginia Chronicle. The Scrap Basket is a utilitarian but endearingly whimsical publication that kept St. Catherine’s students apprised of the latest events and developments at the school. On the front page of the 1 November 1930 issue, for example, the editors noted recent architectural changes around St. Catherine’s, reminded students of the strict criteria for celebration in the school’s Hall of Fame, and praised the theater department’s much-celebrated performance of “Alice-Sit-By-The-Fire.” With separate sections for the Lower School, Middle School, and the athletics department, The Scrap Basket offered interesting reading for students of all ages, grade levels, and affiliations. Editorial columns written by the paper’s editors (Upper School students) helped inculcate St. Catherine’s hidden curriculum in younger readers:
Do you ever wonder why you go to boarding-school … Have you ever realized just what you are doing here? “Learning lessons,” you say. Yes, you are, and more of them than you realize … A Southern girl’s instinct is to stick with her own kind. She doesn’t understand a Northerner’s point of view, she laughs at the way she talks, doesn’t realize that the other girl finds her just as odd and unaccountable. There is an opportunity to learn something right there. Be tolerant.
A valuable lesson, indeed, for young students, and it remains so even today. The Scrap Basket also served as an artistic forum in which students of all grade levels could publish their original work, such as poetry, book reviews, or editorials about student life.
Seven issues of Odds ‘n’ Ends, published between 1933 and 1941, have also been uploaded to Virginia Chronicle. A supplement to The Scrap Basket published by and for St. Catherine’s Middle School, the semiannual Odds ‘n’ Ends contained announcements and reviews of school events, as well as original work by St. Catherine’s middle-school students. The May 1933 issue posted short articles about a recent art exhibition, the Spring Festival and the annual school fundraiser, in which students of all classes participated. For historians, Odds ‘n’ Ends also serves as a comprehensive record of the various events held at St. Catherine’s and the students who made them possible.
For Arcadian, St. Catherine’s longest-running newspaper, 201 issues from the years 1940–2007 are available on Virginia Chronicle. As the issue, left, of May 2007 shows, Arcadian publicized important school information and highlighted the accomplishments of its students, like champion diver Annie Johnson. The same issue notified readers of the retirement of headmistress Auguste Bannard, as well as the anonymous donation of $3 million given to the school in Mrs. Bannard’s honor. Arcadian also served as a platform for St. Catherine’s students to create and share news that—in cases like the article from page four of this issue, entitled “Girls Fight Back,” demonstrates—sometimes broached difficult but important subjects.
I hope that readers enjoy exploring St. Catherine’s three fascinating newspapers on Virginia Chronicle. Together, they provide an elucidating women’s perspective on academic life in Richmond throughout the 20th and early-21st centuries that serves as a valuable addition to the Virginia Newspaper Project.