A while back my interest was piqued when I read in the UDC about a presentation made to the Soroptimist Club concerning interesting women in Champaign County. When I recently read that “Interesting Women of Champaign County, Ohio Prior to 1960” would be presented on the Champaign County Library Facebook page, I made sure to watch.
Library employee Gloria Malone compiled the informative 30-minute program of facts gleaned from county histories, city directories, and archived newspapers. From these sources she added photographs and clippings in describing each of forty notable ladies.
For me, the most fascinating women were those with accomplishments involving cultural change and historical advancements, the kind we might take for granted these days. Sophia Holt, Alice Tracy, and Sarah Dupler served as physicians in the county in the 1800s. In 1870 Mary Lyons became the first woman clerk in Urbana, subsequently working forty years in the dress department of the Hitt & Fuller Dry Goods store, the current location of Legacy Park. Mrs. Golden Millice of North Lewisburg in 1937 became the first Champaign County woman to run for mayor. Luetta Curtis Eggleston, assistant manager at the Gloria Theater in 1943, was the first woman movie projectionist in the United States. During the 1930s Adelaide Lutz became the first married woman to work at the Citizens Bank. And Anna Bosler became the first woman sheriff in Champaign County when she succeeded her husband after his death in the line of duty in 1926.
I also enjoy discovering new nuggets of information. For example, I learned that during Harriet Milne’s years as librarian, the library was housed in the City Building. The summer home of Thyrza Furrow Kiser in St. Paris was called Garden Glow. The first black student honored as UHS valedictorian was Genevieve Allen in 1933. Harriet Day Bricker, formerly a teacher in Urbana, served as Ohio’s First Lady when her husband, John Bricker, was governor 1939-1945. And in 1956 Mrs. Harry Hoover became the Romper Room teacher at WDTN in Dayton.
And then there were the women whose names I recognized from having read them myself in the UDC as I was growing up: Ethel Botkins Redding, owner of Ethel’s Flower Shop; Grace Fern Heck, prosecuting attorney/municipal court judge; Kathryn Kerns, postmaster; Ann Roberts, probation officer/probate-juvenile court judge; and Blanche Rhea, city auditor.
The one picture in this video program, however, the one reference that set my fingers a-googling was the opening photograph. Some fifty girls in white dresses, posing in front of the library when it stood where the post office parking lot is now located, had successfully completed the Boxwell-Patterson Examination. As Ohio attempted in 1893 to raise education standards in rural schools, this exam served as a proficiency test. Eighth graders who passed it could attend any accredited high school. The last Boxwell exam was administered in 1914.
Originally, county examiners prepared exam questions and evaluated the answers. But in 1902 the State Commissioner of Common Schools assumed that authority. Classroom teachers used books of past exam questions to prepare students for upcoming tests.
By far, the most compelling results of my google searches were the actual test questions eighth graders were required to answer during the day-long examination. Here are a few examples, none of which are of the multiple-choice variety:
ARITHMETIC: “Take the two numbers 445.3 and .073. Find their sum, their difference, their product, and the quotient of the first divided by the second.”
GRAMMAR and COMPOSITION: “Write a sentence that will contain a noun in the objective case, a noun in apposition, a pronoun in the possessive case, and a descriptive adjective.”
GEOGRAPHY: “Draw a map of Ohio. Locate thereon your county seat, five important cities, and three important rivers.”
PHYSIOLOGY: “Describe the ribs as to shape, arrangement, number, attachment.”
HISTORY: “When was the Northwest Territory set apart? Name the states made from it, giving their capitals.”
Eighth graders also read aloud for the test examiners and copied a text in their best penmanship – I can envision students using fountain pens to record answers in their test booklets. By the looks of these questions, I think I am glad I just automatically passed from eighth grade to high school!
I remember my dad talking about the Every Pupil Tests during his school years. These diagnostic tests, administered twice yearly, were listed on Champaign County school calendars as late as 1960. I recall the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills my classmates and I took, also diagnostic in purpose. Nowadays, kids all over the state punch answers into computers during their high-stakes tests. Oh, how things have changed – and also stayed the same!
I congratulate the library and Gloria Malone for their efforts and recommend the video “Interesting Women in Champaign County, Ohio Prior to 1960,” available on Facebook and YouTube. At the moment, I am pondering who might be included in a sequel, should there ever be one.
By the way, Gloria Malone is also in charge of the library’s Imagination Lab. In 2017 $50,000 was donated to the library in memory of Karen Kerns Dresser to establish this Makerspace. The Imagine Lab allows patrons to learn and create with tools including a 3D printer, Cricut Maker, virtual googles, sewing machines, and a large format printer/cutter.
Thousands of books and these machines – all for learning, all in one place, right here in Champaign County. How interesting!
Shirley Scott, a 1966 graduate of Graham High School, is a native of Champaign County. After receiving degrees in English and German from Otterbein College, she returned to GHS in 1970 where she taught until retiring in 2010. From 1976-2001 she coordinated the German Exchange Program with the Otto-Hahn-Gymnasium in Springe.