Monday, September 12, 2011


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The letter shown above appears in the file of a dressmaking student named Lillian Greenberg, who attended the Manhattan Trade School for Girls in 1915 and ’16. It's a little hard to read, so here's a transcription:

May 7, 1923

Dear Miss Inglee,

No doubt you will be very much surprised to hear from me. I am a graduate of the dressmaking department in the year of nineteen hundred and sixteen. In all these seven years I have been connected with three firms which you have record of in your files. As my record is of excellent standing, I am taking the liberty of asking your advice in the following matter.

I am connected with the firm of Jos. Echstein for the past two years and due to the fact that there is going to be a change in the staff of the firm, I would not care to remain there any longer.

What I am desirous of asking your advice on, is just what are the qualifications for teaching a dressmaking class in the school.

If convenient, would ask that you kindly let me know by return mail as soon as possible, and would ask that you kindly do not get in touch with my present firm, as I would not want them to know that I am contemplating a change.

Hopeing to have the pleasure of hearing from you soon and thanking you in advance, I beg to remain

Very truly yours,

Lillian Greenberg
303 Broome St.

Interesting! I believe this is the only example of a student in my report card collection asking for a teaching position at the school. It's not clear if Lillian was hired. Personally, I doubt it (among other factors, she was about to turn 22 years old -- far younger than the school's other instructors), but a note at the top of her letter reads, "Wants her to come in Thurs.," so apparently her request was taken seriously.

My collection does include a case of a student who circled back to the school for a different reason, with a different request. It's one of my favorite storylines in the entire report card collection, but I'm saving it for the Slate series -- which, incidentally, starts one week from today.


  1. The one thing I noticed straight away was the quality of the letter she wrote. Maybe I'm a cynic, but the average working-class 22-year-old today likely wouldn't be able to use the word "desirous" in a sentence.

  2. That letter is Baroquely proper. wow