Sunday, May 4, 2014

They received the Amidon Medal

From the Evening Star of January 7, 1871:
Last evening the pupils of the Fourth District Schools gave a grand concert, at Lincoln Hall, to aid in erecting a monument in memory of Mrs. Margaret Amidon, (formerly teacher of the female grammar school, fourth district.) They were assisted by the pupils of the second district and former pupils of Mrs. Amidon. The hall was crowded, and the duetts, choruses, and piano solos were well rendered. The choruses were under the conductorship of Professor Daniel. Miss Rachel Garrett presided at the piano. About seventy-five young ladies were on the stage. During the evening the Amidon medal was presented by Mr. J. O. Wilson, superintendent of the public schools, to Miss Susie Howison, with an appropriate address, which was neatly responded to.
Miss Howison was approaching her twenty-first birthday and so was older by several years than the rest of the winners whom I've been able to identify. Most of the young women were around sixteen. I think Susie Howison (later married to James Ratcliffe of Loudoun County, Virginia) was honored for her achievements in “amiability and scholarship” for the previous year or years.

The “grand concert” was not a recurrent event, but a singular one that inaugurated the Amidon Prize. After Susie Howison, all subsequent winners were announced by the District of Columbia Trustees in a regular fashion, together with a number of other prizes and scholarships, at the end of the school year in June, after the examination of the schools. Here are the names of the winners I've been able to spot so far, drawn from newspaper items or from annual Trustees' reports.

1871   Kate Maxwell
(became a teacher for a time)
1872   Martha Travis
1873   Isabelle Haliday
1875   Sarah C. Dulin
1878   Ella S. Cooke
1879   Eugenia Hilleary
1881   Marie Madeleine De Vote
(died June 8, 1888)
1882   Rose Mary McCauley
1883   Carrie McLaughlin
(1866-1949) wife of Harry Howser
1884   Mary Violet Petty
(daughter of J.T. Petty)

Nothing about the Amidon Medal shows up in the Washington DC news or reports in the years after 1884. How did the medal come to be discontinued? Was there no longer a need to encourage girls to be schoolteachers by this means? Did the funds for the prize dry up?

It would be terrific to see one of these medals. I count at least twelve of them: the ones given to these eleven young women, and one more, in bronze, which was presented to the Trustees.

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