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Details about  1917 Photo Album OGONTZ SCHOOL Abington PA -Amelia Earhart?! Lake Tahoe CA Trip

1917 Photo Album OGONTZ SCHOOL Abington PA -Amelia Earhart?! Lake Tahoe CA Trip See original listing
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Item condition:
Aug 10, 2012 19:32:37 PDT
Winning bid:
US $53.85
7 bids ]
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Item location:
Western North Carolina, United States


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Used: An item that has been used previously. See the seller’s listing for full details and description of ... Read moreabout the condition


This is an amazing original photo album which is loaded with photographs from the Ogontz School in Abington, Pennsylvania. The album dates from around 1917 to 1919, and the most noted celebrity alumni is Amelia Earhart, famed female avaitrix.

Amelia was not raised in the luxury enjoyed by most Ogontz girls. Though her maternal grandfather was a successful judge in Atchison, Kansas, where Amelia was born, her father had a checkered and botched career that kept the family on the move, and far from wealthy. After attending many schools, she graduated from Hyde Park High School in Chicago in 1916. Soon after, her mother came into some inheritance funds that offered an opportunity to send Amelia and her sister, Muriel, to private schools. With Bryn Mawr as her ultimate goal, Amelia entered The Ogontz School at the Jay Cooke estate that fall. She was 19 years old.

Part of a transitional class, she started her second year at the Rydal location. She would have graduated in June 1918 had she completed the year. But she never finished at Ogontz. Amelia was a headstrong girl, firm in her beliefs and willing to stand up for them. This led her to several clashes with the equally willful headmistress, Abby Sutherland, and sometimes, with her fellow students. Most widely known was a battle over the retention of sororities. Finding them too exclusive, Amelia—who was already a member of one—sought to have more societies created so that all girls could join. Miss Sutherland’s solution was to disband them entirely. Amelia wound up on an Honor Board, created in part to prevent the sorority girls from disobeying the rules and meeting in secret. Obviously a natural leader, Amelia was voted class vice-president as a senior. She also was secretary of the Ogontz Red Cross chapter—a group that knitted sweaters for the allied troops in World War I—and secretary/treasurer to a group called Christian Endeavor.

The senior class at Ogontz traditionally donned their graduation caps and gowns at Halloween, a night when class motto, class song, class sponsor, and honorary member were revealed. Also, photos in cap and gown were taken that day. Hence, a photo of Amelia wearing her cap and gown exists, even though she never graduated. At Christmastime 1917, she visited her sister who was at school in Toronto, Canada, and was moved by the sight of soldiers who had become amputees. She returned to Ogontz in January, but stayed only a few weeks. She had decided to become a nurses’ aide in the Voluntary Aid Detachment at a Toronto hospital.

**I have thumbed through the album, which has a multitude of different photographs of girls at the school, including group photos, Mayday celebrations, and other events, but I have not combed through the album thoroughly. There are a couple of photos which kind of jumped out at me, which showed a lady with some similar features as Amelia, but without a 100% positive identification, I am not going to make the claim she is in this album.....HOWEVER, this should be researched much more thoroughly than I have researched the album.

There are a staggering 249 photographs in the album, most with amazing clarity and quality. The photographs are glued in the album for the most part, with a few loose here and there. Some of the other photos of interest include Horseback Riding; October 1919 trip to Lake Tahoe, CA; The Bijou Inn at Lake Tahoe (larger photo measuring 4 1/4 by 6 1/2 inches); many photos of the girls / students around maypole for Mayfest celebration; Fatima Cigarettes sign on building; Street scenes; Photo of Ogontz School from slight distance down a wooded street; Quite a few beach / swimming scenes (likely taken at Lake Tahoe); girls in school uniforms; groups of girls in theatrical costumes; a young boy in aviation goggles; great photographs of an old roadster automobile; and so much more. This trip to Lake Tahoe likely took them through the Donner Lake area in Truckee, California as well. Again, an amazing piece of history, with or without Amelia Earhart, but the dates of the album would lead me to strongly believe that she was attending the school when these photos were taken....even if she is not in them. I would almost be certain the ladies in these albums likely knew her. The album itself is in very poor condition with extremely brittle pages, most loose, and missing front cover, but the photographs are almost all in excellent condition.

MORE ABOUT THE SCHOOL: For 100 years, the elite and prestigious school known as The Ogontz School for Young Ladies was a prominent force in female private education. Three locations served the school, each for about a third of its existence. The school had its beginnings in 1850 as The Chestnut Street Female Seminary, founded by two teachers, Miss Mary L. Bonney and Miss Harriette A. Dillaye, who had been classmates at the Troy Female Seminary, NY. The location of their "finishing school" was a stately four-story row house at 1615 Chestnut Street- surrounded by some of Philadelphia's wealthiest residences- but after several decades, the success of the school required a search for more suitable quarters "in the country." In 1883 the school rented the Elkins Park estate of Civil War financier Jay Cooke, named “Ogontz” for Cooke’s boyhood mentor and role model—a Sandusky Indian chief. With the move, the school assumed the name of the estate and became The Ogontz School for Young Ladies. By then misses Bonney and Dillaye had selected two associate principals from the school’s faculty, Miss Frances Bennett and Miss Sylvia Eastman. At the new location the four principals shared responsibility for a brief time, with Bennett and Eastman gradually taking over entirely. Sylvia Eastman became sole principal after Bennett’s retirement in 1900. For thirty-four years the school thrived in the Jay Cooke mansion, with a student body of about a hundred privileged young girls. n 1902 a young English teacher joined the faculty, Miss Abby A. Sutherland. She was to become Sylvia Eastman’s hand-picked choice as her successor. After four years of training, during which time Sutherland gradually purchased the school, she took over as principal in 1912—a role she was to maintain until the school closed. By 1916, the Elkins Park school was outgrowing its quarters. With expansion and modernization in mind, Miss Sutherland purchased fifty-four acres of land on “the rolling hills of Rydal” in suburban Abington Township. Here she built The Ogontz School into an empire that would eventually encompass a primary school from kindergarten to eighth grade (The Rydal School), a high school, and a junior college. The new location opened in the fall of 1917 and included Amelia Earhart as a member of its senior class. Changing times and changing fortunes marked the end of The Ogontz School in 1950 when Abby Sutherland gave the campus and facilities to The Pennsylvania State College, now The Pennsylvania State University. [CREDIT TO THE PENN STATE UNIVERSITIES LIBRARY WEBSITE FOR THIS HISTORICAL BACKGROUND INFORMATION.]

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