|Posted by Jenny Dressel on July 11, 2014 at 9:45 AM|
Okay, everyone! This is the moment I'm sure everyone has been waiting for with bated breath. Here are some amazing photographs of some of the young ladies who graduated with the Bridgeport High School class of 1889. The fashion is truly something to behold and would hardly be seen today, especially considering the heat. High collars and perfectly coifed hair was popular. Apparently poofy bangs are a popular fad that skips from century to century. Most of these girls (women?) are unsmiling as was appropriate for a photograph. These truly give a window to the past as we imagine what was going through their heads 125 years ago. Were they planning to go onto more school or settle down and start a family? Were they excited for graudation or dreading it? These are questions you can answer with your own imagination.
Edith Burr Palmer
Phebe Anderson Le Count
Lucy Bettie Josephine (Sunshine) Lockwood
These three young women were prominent in the graduation ceremony. Miss Palmer was the recipient of the Barnum Prize, a prestigious award that was granted as an award for essay writing.
In the 25 June 1889 Bridgeport Daily Standard, the two-column coverage of the graduation went into serious detail. Luckily for us, this means that the program we have can be interpreted. The orations and essays are narrated by the journalist with a play-by-play of each speaker, fully illustrating that night at the Opera House. The Valedictory by Miss Jenny Howe is written word for word. She ends her speech saying,
"If we forgive any little injuries we may think we have received and resolve to persevere in using for the right, the powers which have been developed and trained for our use, remembering where to look for unfailing help, we may hope to look back upon our school days as the happy beginning of lives neither entirely useless nor unhapppy, and God grant us strength to keep our resolves."
With these parting words came an address from the superintendent, Mr. H. M. Harrington, who told the graduating class to learn to think for themselves in order to become successful. "Thinking is hard work, taxing the mind, wearying the mind, wearying the brain and tiring the body, but it yields an abundant fruitage of power."
With the conclusion of the tale of the ceremony came the Graduation Gossip.
"Anything remarkable about your class?" asked a scribe of one of the 'sweet girl' graduates. "Well, I should think there was," she responded, "we have had more fights and quarrels than any other class," and the glitter that came into her eyes caused the reporter to hastily withdraw.
The rest of the column goes on to describe the scandalous events that surrounded this particular class. Seven deaths had occurred since the class entered high school. Three ladies were "unable to withstand the attractions of matrimonial bliss." Thirty had become employed, leading them to leave the school before graduation. One of the biggest points of gossip was what kind of celebration the graduating class would have and they decided on a promenade, of which Edith Palmer and Sunshine Lockwood were some of the hosts. Miss Palmer and Lockwood were both accomplished equestrians and frequented the Barnum boulevard. These shocking tidbits seem hardly shocking today but were apparently serious points of interest back in 1889.
The end of the article reports what each graduate's plans were after school. Many of the young ladies were going to become teachers, stenographers, and one was lucky enough that a "cavalier stands ready to carry her off." The majority of the boys, on the other hand, were ready to enter Yale, Wesleyan, Sterling, or join their father with the family business. While the young men and women were graduating from the same school, their future goals and plans were drastically different.
With the end of the article comes the end of a story. Looking back over a century, we see these lives as simpler while at the time they were being sent into a brand new world with modern technology, views, and expectations.
Categories: Intern's Corner