Among the Portland Room’s many treasures are five scrapbooks, each one the color of dirty dishwater with a title embossed in gold on the front. The titles are: Cutting, Folding, Sewing, Weaving. (The fifth scrapbook is missing its cover.)
Cover of one of the workbooks
All that we know about these books is that they are called “Kindergarten Teacher Training Workbooks” and that they were created by Marion P. Dana. Once you get past the unassuming covers, there are aesthetic delights inside: brown and yellow paper woven into intricate, geometric patterns in the Weaving scrapbook, simple stitched outlines of shapes in the Sewing book.
Page from the workbook titled “Sewing”
Marion Dana was born in Westbrook. After attending Wheaton College, she taught kindergarten, then went on to obtain both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in education from Columbia University in the early and mid-1920s. She taught for over 20 years at the teacher’s college in Buffalo, NY.
Were these notebooks created for one of Dana’s classes at Buffalo, for her own studies at Columbia, or during her days as a kindergarten teacher? We simply don’t know.
Page from the workbook titled “Weaving”
We do know a little bit about the recommended curriculum for kindergarten students in the early 20th century, thanks to a 1919 booklet published by the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Education (http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED541152.pdf). Teachers were expected to explore the following topics with their young scholars: Community Life and Nature Study, Manual Activities, Art, Language, Literature, Plays and Games, and Music. Cutting, weaving, and sewing are among the manual activities discussed. Sewing, for example, “is occasionally introduced for the production of articles which can be used by the child; for example, a pocketbook for the store play, a postman’s bag, etc. The simple overhand stitch is used. … The needs of the kindergarten dolls furnish a most natural and interesting motive.”
Dana’s workbooks are now on display on the Lower Level of the Main branch. When not on display, they are housed in the collections of the Portland Room. If anyone knows more about Marion Dana, we would love to hear from you. Please contact us at (207) 871-1700 x747 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Martin Luther King Jr day inspires curiosity in myriad directions. Dr. King was a prolific writer and thinker and leader, offering many pathways to follow. In recent years, MLK Jr day has been claimed as a “Day of Service,” inviting us to give our attention to our communities in whatever ways we can. King’s work for social justice was premised on the ideals of nonviolence, inclusion, and freedom. At times, these values can jostle with each other, can need our attention in different ways as we seek to create and sustain communities which embody the full vision of King and others who led the Civil Rights Movement.
The Choose Civility initiative invites you to consider your most sacred values, your deepest wishes for your community, and your commitment to enact social justice when and where you can. On Saturday January 24th, we will host our 3rd and final (for this season) “Portland Public Conversation” on the topic Picturing Portland.
We hope that you will make time to join us in this “design-thinking” inspired session which will help us consider how we take our best ideas and bring them to fruition. This will be a highly interactive session!
Although registration is not required, we would love a sense of #s for planning our lunch menu, so please do RSVP if possible, just by sending a quick email to email@example.com or “join” via facebook.
Here’s a sense of how our time will be spent:
10:00 am Library opens, we will have coffee, treats, and books to peruse
10:30 am Welcome, ice breaker, a bit of information about what we’ve learned from our Choose Civility programs thus far
11:00am The “Head-Heart-Hustle,” facilitated by special guest Sara Shifrin from Gould Academy’s IDEAS center, is designed to help us understand our own commitments, passions and capacity to contribute and to find themes among us that help us consider where we might best “Choose Civility” in 2015
12:00 pm Final thoughts & an invitation to continue participating in Action Groups supported by Lift360
12:30 pm Closing … Lunch will be offered after the formal closing of the program and will allow for more conversation and forming of action groups
We also invite you to browse the Choose Civility collection as well as the wonderful books and films that honor Dr. King’s life, that explore the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s & 60s or that engage us in questions about the status of Civil Rights today.