Thursday, August 11, 2011
Most of the 395 student records in my collection are fairly extensive, with four of five individual cards, most of them filled out on both sides, plus assorted additional paperwork. But some of the files are incomplete, and a few of them are barely files at all. The letter you see above is all I have for a student named Concetta Colozou -- that's the entirety of her "file."
As you can see, Concetta was receiving student aid (the Manhattan Trade School for Girls made a small weekly stipend available for extreme hardship cases) and was facing a series of dental procedures she could not afford. The letter was written by one of the school's employees -- it's not clear to me whether it was a teacher or another staff member -- and was addressed to "Miss Marshall." That would have been Florence M. Marshall, who was the school's principal from 1911 through 1937. (That photo is from an old yearbook.) Her response, written at the bottom of the letter, reads, "You arrange for this. It can be paid from student aid."
The report cards are full of paperwork like this. Letters from social workers and doctors, letters from parents, letters from the school to the students -- a treasure trove. More of them will be shown in the Slate series next month.