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Girls' reward of merit ephemera

 Collection — Box: BW 56, Folder: 001
Identifier: MSS 16785

Content Description

This collection features seventeen merit reward cards given to girls and women in the late nineteenth century. These cards are printed on one side and have "Reward of Merit" printed at the top, accompanied by a decorative illustration, the handwritten student's name, and the teacher's signature. Six cards are addressed to Martha Warren, three to Nelly Whitenack, two to Florence Pomery, and other cards are addressed to presented to Cynthia Williams, Elizabeth Brookholder, Ida Meckly, Beatie Allen, and Ella Solm. Another card is illegible except for the first name Electa. Two of the cards are dated. The cards vary in illustration and typography.


  • Creation: Majority of material found within c. 1872-1876

Historical note

In the early part of the nineteenth century, very few girls received an education and those who had the option attended dame schools, which started in the eighteenth century and focused on basic literacy. It was not until the Common School Movement of the 1840s and 1850s that girls could take their education further, being permitted to attend town schools, though usually at a time when boys were not in attendance. Merit cards, founded in the late 18th century, were created to motivate children toward religious values and were later mass-produced in the middle of the 19th century to encourage academic work.


0.03 Cubic Feet (One letter-sized folder)

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

This collection was purchased from Max Rambodby the Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia on March 8, 2023.


Guide to the Girls merit reward ephemera
Rose Oliveira
June 1, 2023
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library Repository

Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library
P.O. Box 400110
University of Virginia
Charlottesville Virginia 22904-4110 United States