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Collections Cameo, August 2013

Ferry Hall Scrapbook of Katherine Percy, 1906-1912

By Kylie Mannion, Historical Society Summer Intern

This collection consists of the contents of a young woman’s scrapbook. Katherine Percy was born on September 4, 1891 in Galesburg, Illinois. Her father, Dr. James Fulton Percy, was born in New Jersey in 1864, and her mother, Josephine Percy, was born in Illinois in 1866. In 1907, at the age of 16, Katherine was sent to Lake Forest to attend school at Ferry Hall. Later she attended Knox College and Simmons College. In 1914, Katherine married Dr. Lewis J. Pollock, a prominent neurologist and professor at Northwestern University. The couple lived at 517 Hamilton St. in Evanston, Illinois and had one son, James Percy Pollock. Katherine died on May 15, 1971 in Chicago at the age of 80. 



This scrapbook highlights Katherine’s time at Ferry Hall in Lake Forest. 

It is interesting because it not only sheds light on the life of a teenage girl in the early 20th century, but also on the way of life at Ferry Hall and in Lake Forest in general. The various memorabilia in the scrapbook include letters, telegrams, calling cards, programs from concerts and plays, dance cards, Lake Forest College athletic schedules, drawings and illustrations, newspaper clippings, train tickets, candy wrappers, and more. 

Unfortunately the scrapbook is not in the best condition. Most of the memorabilia havee been removed from the scrapbook so some items are hard to contextualize or date, and there is mild water damage to many items. However many of the individual articles, such as dance cards and programs, are dated so we know that the scrapbook has items from 1906-1912. It is also lucky that Katherine captioned many of the items in her scrapbook. It is through Katherine’s commentary that the pages of the scrapbook come alive, and Katherine’s witty personality shines through over 100 years later. 



Examples from the collection:

There are many special items in this collection that shed a lot of light on Katherine’s life and the way of life at Ferry Hall in 1907 and 1908. I have selected a few that I find the most illuminating.

Katherine had many notes from Frances Hughes, the principal of Ferry Hall. Nearly all of them indicated that due to demerits Katherine was required to attend study hall on Saturday evenings.  Next to some of these notes Katherine wrote witty comments, such as, “The first of the season.”



















Katherine also had a large number of calling cards in her scrapbook. Calling cards were common during the early 20th century, and one would leave a card if they came for a visit. Next to one particular card Katherine wrote, “A cigarette off campus, and 36 demerits.” 










The most frequent occurrence in Katherine’s collection was dance cards. She attended a multitude of dances, a particularly large number at Northwestern Military Academy in Highland Park. The dance cards usually were small booklets with a list of the dances, next to which Katherine penciled in her dancing partner’s name. Usually a tiny pencil was attached by a cord for this purpose. Next to many of these dance cards Katherine wrote, “The time of my life!”