[Nebraska and Wyoming. 1916-1930]. 155 black-and-white photographs ranging from to 3 x 1 3/4 to 5 x 7 inches, all but ten mounted, plus four preprinted pages filled with handwritten sentiments, and a few ephemeral items. Oblong folio. Contemporary brown leatherette, string tied, with gilt-embossed seal of "Grand Island College Nebraska" on front cover. Moderate wear, creasing, and soiling to covers. Internally clean. Very good. Item #WRCAM56218
An annotated vernacular photograph album memorializing the education and professional teaching career of Mary Lou Davis, a young woman in the American West during the Roaring Twenties. Many of the album leaves contain detailed handwritten captions, some with lists identifying those in the pictures, including Davis's various school classes. Hailing from Bridgeport, Nebraska, the album begins by documenting Davis's own education - first her middle school and high school time beginning in 1916 in Bridgeport and later Northport and Chadron, Nebraska, and then her university days at Grand Island College. The latter includes portraits of numerous identified classmates, and a theater program and dinner menu from her college days. After college, Davis became a primary school teacher in Shawnee, Wyoming, and almost a third of the album is devoted to this time in her life. At the time, Shawnee had a population of thirty-six, and the album records Davis's days among the schoolchildren and the hamlet itself, including many playful and candid images featuring a young woman in the wide open American West. As with the earlier photographs, many of the Shawnee images are annotated in manuscript, including a few listings of the faculty and school board (between four and seven people, total) and a couple of lists of every resident in the town; Davis notes that the population dipped down to thirty-four after she left her job in 1930. The album concludes with a smattering of photographs showing Davis back in Nebraska, teaching in the town of Sidney in the 1930-31 school year. Another piece of ephemera present here is a membership certificate for the Delta Kappa Gamma Society, awarded to Mary Lou Carpenter (née Davis) in 1958, by which time she had apparently returned to Wyoming. A rare peek at pedagogy in the American West from the point of view of a young student and later schoolteacher in Nebraska and Wyoming in the early 20th century.