Collection contains a scrapbook that details the experiences and correspondence of Edith Lee, a student at Fairmount Seminary in the 1910s in Washington, DC.
Scope and Contents:
This collection consists of the loose pages and covers of the scrapbook Lee created using materials from her time at Fairmount seminary and is extremely fragile. The pages are not in chronological order, but for the most part have materials from 1912 to 1916. The scrapbook is annotated by Lee and filled with her drawings. It contains a wide range of correspondence, including telegrams and letters, photographs, postcards, watercolor paintings and other drawings, dance cards (including a metal bangle with a dance list), ribbons and other textiles, and a variety of three-dimensional objects. There are cartoons and fashion sketches, as well as watercolor paintings that she made. The scrapbook mainly focuses on recording the events Lee attended and messages she received, though there are many photographs of her and her friends in casual and costume dress. It includes photographs of Rock Creek Park in D.C. It includes tickets and a program for a women's suffrage march held in 1913 in D.C. There is also a Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) pamphlet. The scrapbook offers a look at society practices between women in Washington at the time.
Although limited, the scrapbook does have information on Fairmount Seminary itself, mostly relating to its teachers. Assistant Principal Judith Steele is noted most often, and the scrapbook includes an image of her. It also has several programs and booklets pertaining to the Naval Academy, including copies of the Log of the US Navy. It also has programs and invitations for Winter Hops and Middies Dances held at the academy. It contains materials from Triple 6 fraternity's Christmas balls. It also contains Lee's short correspondence with John Sharp Williams, a Representative from Tennessee. The collection provides insight for research on girls' education in the early 20th century, particularly the culture girls developed at boarding schools. It also has a unique lens on early 20th century history of Washington, D.C. The collection may also be useful in the study of the history of the Navy Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.
The scrapbook is in poor condition as many of the pages are brittle, torn, and unable to support the weight of the objects attached. The pages are no longer bounded to the covers of the scrapbook. Scrapbook pages have been interleaved with paper to prevent the tranfer of acid from newspaper clippings, telegrams, etc. The scrapbook is also housed into two boxes to better manage the weight of the object. Researchers should handle the book with extreme caution and care.
Collection is arranged into one series.
Biographical / Historical:
This scrapbook belonged to Edith Youdale Lee and chronicles the time she spent at Fairmount Seminary in Washington, D.C. It was an Episcopal school for girls, offering two years worth of college work preparatory to college. It was located in Northwest Washington and ceased operation in the 1940s. For most of its life, the seminary was headed by Arthur Ramsay. Several influential figures spoke at the seminary during Edith's time, including Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan and eugenicist David Starr Jordan. The seminary offered women diplomas and certificates, with focus on literature, music, art, and some mathematics. It advertised itself as a "city school with country sports" where students would take trips into outdoor areas in Washington D.C. It also appears to have some loose connection to the Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD, as Fairmount students frequently attended dances and events at the academy. Fairmount hosted students from across the South, Northeast, and Midwest, as well as the odd student from California.
Edith Youdale Lee (later Brown) was born in 1898 in Memphis, Tennessee to Anna Youdale Lee (1860-?) and Robert Edward Lee. Her father died shortly after her birth in 1900. She was the youngest of three siblings, and her oldest brother Everett Dean Lee was involved in the cotton linting business. Her sister Louise (1887-1952) married Wilkie C. Thacker (1890-1956). She and her mother, Anna, lived in several locations in Memphis but spent extended time living in the Gayoso Hotel. Her mother is listed as the head of household for much of Edith's young life, and they were wealthy enough to employ a servant. In 1912, she began studying at Fairmount Seminary, where she graduated with a certificate in 1916. She met her future husband Midshipman Leon Fredrick Brown (1895-?) while living in D.C. They were married in 1917 and had a daughter, Edith, in 1918. Brown remained in the Navy for some time, before the family moved to Los Angeles, CA, where he worked for an insurance company. Information on Edith herself is unfortunately limited.
Materials in the Archives Center, National Museum of American History
Archives Center Scrapbook Collection, NMAH.AC.0468
Celia K. Erskine Scrapbook of Valentines, Advertising Cards, and Postcards, NMAH.AC.0136
Donated to the Archives Center in 2017 by Carol Jarvis, who acquired it from a family member, who acquired it from a thrift store.
Collection is open for research.
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Radar Collection [Blom], Acc. NASM.2024.0005, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution.