Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Collection Highlight : Rural School Souvenir Cards

While cataloging the latest batch of goodies to be added to the Bess Britton Michigan One-Room Schoolhouse Collection, I came across several more school Souvenir Cards, a somewhat rare and unique piece of rural school history.
Souvenir cards were typically bi-fold, sometimes quad-fold, perhaps with ornamentation along the edges and a corded tie.  They were a formal presentation from the teacher to the community, oftentimes with a picture of him or her on the front. 

Inside are listings of the currently enrolled students and sometimes names of the presiding school board members or Board of Directors. 

These type of school memorabilia were created from the late 1800's well into the twentieth century, providing a "snapshot" of rural school history that in some cases may not survive in any other form.  Surviving school attendance, census, and operational records are scant for most Michigan rural schools, and what has survived may very well still be in private hands or in antique shops.  Unfortunately, many of the school ledgers and records have been destroyed or lost. 

Souvenir cards are very useful in the quest to identify Michigan's 7,000+ rural schools, almost all of which are now gone or converted to other uses.  Did you or your parents/grandparents attend a rural Michigan school?  Do you have one of these Souvenir Cards in your attic chest of prized mementos?  Consider donating a color copy (or the original) to the Bess Britton Michigan One Room Schoolhouse Collection, an archives of Michigan school memorabilia representing 4,500+ schools, housed at the Van Buren District Library

To view the collection and search it's every-name index, visit the library anytime during its regular business hours.  For more information about how to donate Souvenir Cards or other rural school history, contact the Local History Department.