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Collections Cameo, February 2012

February composition book by Helen Frye

This essay book by eighth grader Helen Frye, entitled “February,” was created as a school assignment in February 1926. The book is bound with a piece of string and features a drawing of a sailor on the cover. Its content includes the Gettysburg Address copied over in Miss Frye’s handwriting, a page of newspaper image cutouts of Abraham Lincoln, and essays composed by Miss Frye about Lincoln, Saint Valentine, George Washington and the poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, who was born February 27, 1807.

Excerpts from Miss Frye’s essays:

On Abraham Lincoln: “Lincoln had many debates with Douglas and later he was elected president which was on March 4, 1860. He was the fourteenth president of the United States.* And one of the best presidents we have ever had. He was shot by Wilkes Booth while attending a Theater. Abraham Lincoln the great man died April 15, 1865.”

[*Actually he was 16th – but Miss Frye’s teacher didn’t catch it, either!]

On St. Valentine: “St. Valentine a Roman Catholic Bishop was martyred in Rome in A.D. 270 on the fourteenth of February. This day has long been celebrated by everybody. Some say Valentine was accustomed to go around from house to house leaving food on the doorsteps of the poor.”

On George Washington: “At the age of nineteen he was six feet two inches tall and very gracefully built.”

On Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: “Longfellow wrote many poems. Some of his poems are Evangeline, The Children’s Hour and many other beautiful poems.”

Helen Frye graduated from Gorton School in 1926. The Historical Society has a collection of her school papers, including notes, composition books, report cards, and perfect attendance certificates.