Velma: Twentieth-Century Student

I have spent more than a decade researching and writing and fact checking and editing, so you know I couldn’t just dive into French lessons from 1913 using my great-grandmother’s college textbook without looking some things up. Like, for example, the fact that she went to college during World War I.

I grew up one town over from Mansfield, so the university was always on my radar, even if I only visited it a handful of times. I was surprised to learn it had been founded as a seminary in 1857, but it quickly became a “normal,” or secular, school in 1862. In 1902, Mansfield started offering a three-year program like universities did instead of the two-year normal school program. In 1926, it was granted status to hand out college degrees, so in 1927 it became Mansfield State Teachers College.

That’s what my great-grandmother Velma Rose Smith was there for: a teaching degree. According to records I found on the internet, she graduated from the normal school in 1920. So she was attending school when my great-grandfather, Arnold, sent this postcard from Paris, where he was stationed in 1918.

On the back it reads,

Dear Friend,

Your letter rec’d about 10 days ago. Was sure glad to hear form you. I suppose you will be going back to school soon. Everything is going good over here. I am OK and hope this finds you the same.

Your friend, A. Smith

We are not a terribly sentimental people.

Velma graduated with a degree in education either in 1926, which is what her 1999 obituary said, or in 1925, which is what I found on the internet. Either way, she was edcuated and certified to teach.

There are little things tucked into the book; Grandma Smith always saved things she found pretty. As I work through the lessons and find them, I’ll post them. In the meantime, it’s on to the first lessons in articles: definite and indefinite!