A Valentine for Special Collections

Love it! A timely Valentine’s Day surprise arrived this week at the RSSC Center, just as we were puzzling over our blog post about the holiday. It was a box of Valentine’s cards belonging to a Davenport girl! Frances Helen Whalen received these sweet notes from friends and classmates at the Taylor Elementary School in the mid-1920s:

Luckily for family history researchers, the senders signed their full names (many of them have dates, or were dated later by the recipient). Among them are Frances Baker, Miriam Posner, Pauline Ragan, Alice Ramm, and Helen Strohkarck. These girls would have been about 10 or 11 years old, in 5th or 6th grade, in 1926-1927.

Frances Whalen’s autograph book also came to us with this delightful donation. It covers about the same period as the valentines, so we could pair the cards with the entries in the book for a few of the girls. Bonus photos in the first two!

Dorothea Westphal

“When you are married/and your hubby is cross/just pick up your broom/and say I’m boss.”

Margaret Stamer

“Always think of your friend, Margaret Stamers.”

June Ott

“When you get married/and live by the lake/remember and send me a piece of your wedding cake.”

Evelyn Houghton

“I wish you peace/I wish you joy/I wish you first a baby boy/and when his hair begins to curl/I wish you then a baby girl.”

With the exception of Mary Stamer’s simple message, the girls’ autographs are largely about marriage and motherhood. Bernard Haim was the single boy whose name appeared among Frances’ valentines (one was the same as Evelyn Houghton’s above; the other is below). His contribution to the autograph book was short but sweet: a forwarding address.

So Bernard was not to remain Frances Whalen’s valentine in later years. When she married Joseph Hardi in 1949, the ceremony took place just 3 days after Valentine’s Day!

We thank you, Frances Whalen Hardi,* from the bottom of our hearts, for saving your Valentine’s Day cards for others to enjoy in the future.

(posted by Katie)

*More on this fascinating figure in a future post!

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