Barr's Post Card News

Cover Feature: November 25, 2002

[Barr's Post Card News]

[Unfortunately, Barr's Post Card News doesn't archive their back issues, and the original link to the article eventually disappeared. But this is the text of the article, and the picture displayed.]

[1904 Class Baby]

Mount Holyoke Story Front Cover

I have a large collection of Mount Holyoke College postcards, but this one is precious to me. It was created in 1909 for the 5th reunion of the class of 1904, and it's the only reunion postcard I've located to date. It shows a photo of a toddler running with her fists waving in the air, and also a portrait of mom and daughter in Victorian finery. The toddler was the first child born to someone in the class of 1904, and thus was honored with the title of "class baby."

The mother in the photo is Grace Esselstyn Webb, class of 1904. She and her husband were missionaries in Japan. She had a son that was born and died in 1910, and she also died in Japan in 1910; from these clues, it seems likely she died in childbirth, and Ruth, the little class baby, became motherless at approximately age 3.

Ruth's father ended up remarrying in 1914; he married another Mount Holyoke woman, Elizabeth Wilson Pettee in the class of 1905. She was also a missionary in Japan, and they had a son in 1920. Ruth Hanna Tenny, the 1904 class baby, went on to become a Mount Holyoke woman too; she was a Phi Beta Kappa member of the class of 1929, and she taught at Mount Holyoke after her graduation.

The card was sent by Alice Knighton Betts, a member of the class of 1904 and a Pennsylvania teacher, to her classmate Grace Elvina Hadley, who was a Latin teacher at Mount Holyoke but for some reason was not attending the reunion. Alice sent the card when she returned home to Pennsylvania because she wanted to make sure that Grace had a copy of the postcard for her collection.

This postcard delights me in several ways. It is hand-colored and the photos used to make the postcard were charming. The postcard was made in Japan; it has a Japanese inscription stamped on the card stock by the publisher. The Mount Holyoke stories woven in the images, the inscription, and the people involved are tragic, sweet, friendly, and touching. And it was sent by one postcard collector to another, saved for 90 years until it came to my collection with a small stash of Grace Hadley's other Mount Holyoke postcards.

I hope your readers are charmed by this postcard as much as I am!

Donna Albino East Bridgewater, MA

I think Grace Hadley would be very pleased that her small stash of Mount Holyoke postcards found a good home with yet another appreciative post card collector - 90 years later!! What a captivating post card and story. It's no wonder this hobby is so enjoyable. Thanks for sharing part of your interesting collection Donna.

If you would like to share your favorite, prettiest, ugliest, or most unusual post card you hold in your possession, with an explanation of why it is, we will feature it on our front cover. You can send it through the mail or scan and send it over the internet. We will return the card in the same condition as received.
- Editor