Sepia Sunday: Ronald & His Mother

This Sepia Sunday is a follow-up to my last post, “Military Monday: Honoring Ronald Brown’s WWI Service.” When the Lexington Historical Society contacted me about the exhibit honoring my grandfather, I learned that they had a photograph of him wearing his Army uniform, but they didn’t have this one of him posing in his uniform with his mother, Margaret Robertson Gunn Brown (1871-1924). I sent them a scanned copy, which, I am happy to say, they are adding to their digital collection.

Military Monday: Honoring Ronald Brown’s WWI Service

Ronald Dalrymple Brown’s WWI Memorabilia Displayed at the Cary Memorial Library, Lexington, Massachusetts, November 2018

At the beginning of November, I was contacted by the Lexington Historical Society about an exhibit they were working on to honor the military service of my maternal grandfather, Ronald Dalrymple Brown (1899-1985). The exhibit would be displayed at the Cary Memorial Library in Lexington, Massachusetts throughout the month of November as part of the Lexington Remembers WWI project to commemorate the centenary of the Armistice that brought to a close the War to End All Wars.

The Saturday the exhibit opened, the members of my family still in the area met for lunch and a catch-up before heading over to the Cary Library to view the exhibit. It is particularly fitting that the exhibit be held at the Cary Library because the library was originally designed in 1906 by Willard Dalrymple Brown (1871-1944), Ronald’s uncle.1

The exhibit came about in part because of a personality quirk: Ronald could never throw anything away. When he died in 1985, he still had his WWI uniform, his helmet, his mess kit, his canteen, his regimental photographs, and his field manuals. His second wife, Ethel Lavilla Wright Brown (1908-1997), donated the items to the Lexington Historical Society.

Ronald Dalrymple Brown’s WWI Memorabilia Displayed at the Cary Memorial Library, Lexington, Massachusetts, November 2018

Ronald Dalrymple Brown’s WWI Memorabilia Displayed at the Cary Memorial Library, Lexington, Massachusetts, November 2018

Ronald Dalrymple Brown’s WWI Memorabilia Displayed at the Cary Memorial Library, Lexington, Massachusetts, November 2018

I’d always wondered about my grandfather’s service in the Army because the dates coincided with his enrollment as an engineering student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. I figured he must have participated in some kind of an R.O.T.C. program. The information accompanying the Lexington Remembers exhibit confirmed this suspicion and gave me those all-important search terms to find out more:

In June 1918, following his graduation from Arlington High School and Phillips Exeter Academy, he joined the Reserve Officers’ Training Corp (R.O.T.C.) in Plattsburg, NY.

On October 1, 1918, Ronald was inducted into the United States Army. He was a student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and therefore became a private in the Student Army Training Corps (S.A.T.C). He was honorably discharged on December 9, 1918.2

My new search string, “Student Army Training Corps,” yielded over 300 hits on newpapers.com. The September 18, 1918 edition of The Boston Globe provided the conditions under which Ronald entered M.I.T. in the fall of 1918:

[Massachusetts Institute of] Technology is particularly fortunate in that its president, Dr. R. C. Maclaurin, is also chairman of the War Department’s committee on the Student Army Training Corps, the new plan which provides that a large proportion of the 18-year-old boys who come under the draft laws may get a college education before they are called into active service.

For the coming year Technology will be one great military barracks, with the students living under military discipline and studying a course constructed to meet the requirements of the War Department.

A boy of 18 who has registered will enter as usual on the first day. Then, if he can pass the army physical tests, he will be given voluntary induction into the Student Army Training Corps. Instead of paying tuition, he will be given quarters, private’s pay, uniform and subsistence by the Government. He will live in barracks, have military drill every day and live the life of a soldier, except that he will be getting what few drafted men get, a technical education.

When his turn comes to be called into active service, around next July, if he is 18 at entrance, he will be dealt with according to his military and scholastic proficiency at the Institute.

The best men will be detailed to the Institute to finish their intensive course to become engineers, chemists, health officers and the like. Men less fitted for hard technical study, but still first-class students will be sent to an officer’s training corps. Others will go to a non-commissioned officer’s school. The least promising will be sent to camps as privates.

. . . .

Every student in this Student Army Training Corps, which will exist in 400 colleges and technical schools in the United States, will have also a thorough training in the history of the causes of the war and the issues at stake for the United States. This course has been given successfully this Summer in the 150 training detachments where drafted men have been detailed for technical and mechanical instruction by the War Department.3

Fortunately for Ronald and his descendants, the War ended before he was eligible to be called for active service in July of 1919.


1“History of Cary Memorial Library,” Cary Memorial Library, accessed November 11, 2018, https://www.carylibrary.org/history-cary-memorial-library.

2“The items in these cases belonged to Ronald Dalrymple Brown of Lexington and Arlington, Massachusetts,” (Lexington, MA: Lexington Historical Society, 2018).

3“Tech as a War College,” The Boston Globe (Boston), September 15, 1918, Sunday edition, 28.

10th Annual Great Genealogy Poetry Challenge

I came across the 10th Annual Great Genealogy Poetry Challenge on Janice Brown’s, Cow Hampshire: New Hampshire’s History Blog. Genealogy poetry challenge? Count me in! The poetry challenge is sponsored by Bill West of the West in New England blog. You can find the particulars of the challenge here.

I have been researching my grandmother Velma Jane Moore’s early life in Economy Point, Nova Scotia for the past year, so I went to the Poetry Foundation website to see what I could find on the subject of Nova Scotia. “Two Winds on Nova Scotia” by Marshall Schacht called to me immediately as the voice of my family’s experience in the region.

The Moore family had been in Colchester County since William James Moore’s arrival in 1769. By the first quarter of the twentieth century, four Moores from my great-grandfather’s farm in Economy Point had been wooed by the wind from the south to leave Nova Scotia for Massachusetts: Jane Melissa (1870-1950), Esther Leila (1875-1962), Fred Laurence (1894-1971), and Velma Jane (1897-1975).

The Moores Together in Economy Point before They Heard the South Wind’s Lusty Song (c. 1901)


Sources

Gauffreau, Katharine Brown. The Ancestry and Life of Velma Jane Moore Brown. Unpublished manuscript, December 2013.

Schacht, Marshall. “January 1938: Two Winds on Nova Scotia.” Poetry Foundation. Accessed November 4, 2018. https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/browse?contentId=21912. Originally appeared in Poetry: A Magazine of Verse, Vol LI, No. IV, January 1938.

Work Day Wednesday: Honoring the Factory Girls

“A little spinner in the Globe Cotton Mill. The overseer admitted she was regularly employed there. Augusta, Ga.”

“Rhodes Mfg. Co. Spinner. A moment’s glimpse of the outer world. Said she was 11 years old. Been working over a year. Lincolnton, N.C., 11/11/1908”



Honoring the Factory Girls (and Boys)

When this poem from the American Academy of Poets came across my e-mail the other day, I was immediately moved by it–not only by the factory girls’ stolen childhoods but also by the speaker’s acknowledgment of her own role in the plight of these girls and her kinship with them.

The poem prompted me to wonder how many of us have ancestors who had to help support the family by working in the factories, mines, and fields as young children. This is an area I haven’t thought to explore, but I think I should. I do know that during the Victorian era, my Brown ancestors had moved to Massachusetts, gone into business and done quite well for themselves. Their little girls were the recipients, not the makers, of the fripperies churned out by the factories in Waltham and Lowell. My Gauffreau ancestors, on the other hand, lived in Brooklyn during that time period, and I daresay some of their children contributed to the family income by working in the factories.

So, I leave you with this poem and two wistful photographs in the hope of honoring all of our ancestors who sacrificed their childhoods for the survival of the family. They will not be forgotten.


Images from National Archives:

“Little spinner”: National Archives Identifier: 523149 Local Identifier: 102-LH-490 Creator(s): Department of Commerce and Labor. Children’s Bureau. 1912-1913 (Most Recent) From: Series: National Child Labor Committee Photographs taken by Lewis Hine, ca. 1912 – ca. 1912 Record Group 102: Records of the Children’s Bureau, 1908 – 2003

“Rhodes Mfg. Co. Spinner”: National Archives Identifier:523106Local Identifier:102-LH-249Creator(s): Department of Commerce and Labor. Children’s Bureau. 1912-1913  (Most Recent)From:Series: National Child Labor Committee Photographs taken by Lewis Hine, ca. 1912 – ca. 1912 Record Group 102: Records of the Children’s Bureau, 1908 – 2003

 

In Search of Velma Brown [Moore]’s Toronto Days

Velma Jane Moore, Winifred Barnstead, Winnifred Reynolds in Toronto, 1921

Our Starting Point

I’m going to start the search for my grandmother’s Toronto days with my mother’s account:

I never knew that Velma lived in Toronto until I saw pictures of her Toronto days. I assume she went there after graduating from Dalhousie. An article in a New Brunswick local paper about Ronald [Brown] and Velma’s visit to Ronald’s Aunt Ann Worden during their honeymoon says that Velma was a graduate of Ontario University Library School. She then worked at the Toronto Public Library. A picture of her and the head of the department she worked in said 1919-1922 on the back. . . . I don’t know if those are the years she worked under the woman or the years she worked at the library. Velma attended a Bible class from 1920-1921. Velma had a very good friend, Winnifred Reid (married name) and fellow worker at the Library. Winnifred and her husband, Jim, ended up in Hamden, Connecticut, where Winnifred worked in the reference department of the Yale Library. They and Ronald and Velma visited back and forth through the years. I used to take Liz to visit them when we lived in New Haven. I don’t know when Velma left Toronto or if she spent time in Economy before going to the States.1

As you can see, there were significant periods of Velma’s life that her descendants knew nothing about until we had the opportunity to go through The Family Archives when my mother’s sister Margaret died in 2009.

Jim Reid, Baby Liz, Winnifred Reynolds Reid, Hamden, Connecticut, 1956

Leaving Economy

After Velma’s brief career as a teacher in Colchester County, Nova Scotia from September 1918 – June 19192, she was hired as an assistant in the Cataloguing Division of the Toronto Public Library in Ontario, the only assistant hired in 1919.3 At a distance of over 1,000 miles, the move from Economy to Toronto would have been no small undertaking for a young woman of twenty-two in 1919. Finishing the school year at Colchester West on June 30, 1919, she would have moved to Toronto sometime between July and December of that year.

The immediate question, of course is, why? Weren’t there libraries in Nova Scotia? With a little digging, I soon learned that Ontario was at the forefront of public library development in Canada at that time; Ontario was also at the forefront of library training, along with McGill University in Montreal.4

The Dalhousie Connection

Also in the frame are two Dalhousie University connections, which I suspect may have prompted the move to Toronto. The Winnifred Reid my mother mentions in her account of Velma’s Toronto days was Winnifred Reynolds before her marriage, one of Velma’s Dalhousie friends. Winnifred graduated from Dalhousie with the Class of 1919.5  She worked as a cataloguer at the Toronto Public Library from 1920-1922.6

Velma’s boss at the library, Winifred Barnstead, was also a Dalhousie University graduate, Class of 1906.7 In reading about the history of Canadian librarianship in the first part of the twentieth century, I discovered that Ms. Barnstead was a very influential figure.8 Velma learned from the best!

Winifred Barnstead, Velma’s Boss in the Cataloguing Department of the Toronto Public Library from 1919-1922

Winnifred Reynolds Reid

Winnifred’s critique in the Dalhousie Gazette shows her to have much in common with Velma; it’s easy to see how they would have been friends:

Stately and dignified, in cap and gown with a scroll in her hand, Winifred [sic] Reynolds will not be recognized by many. Quiet, but nevertheless possessing a deep sense of humor, Winnie was exceedingly well liked by those who knew her, but she was hard to get acquainted with. She took her studies seriously with good results.9

As my mother’s account indicates, Winnifred continued her career as a librarian. I found her listed in the 1955 edition of Who’s Who in Library Service10:

Winnifred retired in 1964 as the Head cataloger and Research Associate at the Yale Law School Library.11

More to come about Velma’s Toronto days! I’m also sorting through information about the public library system in Toronto that might be interest to other family historians looking for social context for ancestors who lived in Toronto in the early part of the twentieth century.


For additional information:

Oral history of Winifred Barnstead, recorded at the University of Toronto in 1974, the year she died: https://play.library.utoronto.ca/aUBKrGlYlUZY

Article describing Winifred’s Barnstead’s role in the establishment of librarianship education at the University of Toronto: https://www.exlibris.ca/lib/exe/fetch.php?media=wiki:newsletters:elan_special_summer_2004.pdf


1Kay Brown Gauffreau, “The Ancestry & Life of Velma Jane Moore Brown” (unpublished manuscript, December 2013), 25-26.

2E-mail from Harold Stewart, Little White Schoolhouse Museum, Truro, NS 11/19/17.

3Annual Report – Toronto Public Library, 33rd ed. (Toronto: Armac Press, 1920), 74.

4Mary Ellen Quinn, Historical Dictionary of Librarianship (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2014), 72.

5“Convocation,” Dalhousie Gazette L, no. 11, 12, 13 (July 11, 1919): 11.

6Dorothy Ethlyn Cole, ed., Who’s Who in Library Service: A Biographical Directory of Professional Librarians of the United States and Canada, 3rd ed. (New York: Grolier Society, 1955), 404.

7“History: Biographies,” Ex Libris Association, last modified February 10, 2016, accessed October 14, 2018, https://www.exlibris.ca/doku.php?id=history:biographies:barnstead_k.

8 Diane Henderson, “University of Toronto: Faculty of Information Studies,” ELAN: Ex Libris Association Newsletter, Summer 2004, 8-9.

9“Critique,” Dalhousie Gazette L, no. 11, 12, 13 (July 11, 1919): 7.

10Cole, Who’s Who in Library, 430.

11American Association of Law Libraries, Biographical Directory of Law Librarians in the United States and Canada (St. Paul, MN: West Pub., 1964), [snippet view accessed in Google Books].