Caps Off! Graduations on Ohio Memory

Eight members of the 1948 graduating class of New Riegel High School in Seneca County, Ohio, each holding their diploma and wearing a ribbon pinned to their fronts. Courtesy of the Tiffin-Seneca Public Library via Ohio Memory.
Mount Carmel School of Nursing Class of 1948. Via Ohio Memory.

By the first week of June, school is out and lazy days spent poolside, basking in the summer sun are finally here. For our high school and college graduates, summer 2017 marks the transition from one stage of life to another step towards “adulthood.” This weekend, many Ohioans will attend graduations where family and friends come together to celebrate students’ accomplishments and hard work with traditional graduation ceremonies and rituals, many of which originated in 12th century Europe and live on today. In many ways, graduation sentiments are similar to those of the New Year, when we both reflect on our past and look forward to our future. For this week’s blog post, let’s reflect on some of Ohio’s past graduates.

Mount Carmel College of Nursing was founded in 1903 by the Sisters of the Holy Cross, with the first class graduating in 1906. In 1941, Mount Carmel became one of the few nursing colleges in the United States to receive accreditation due tothe institution’s continued commitment to education. The photograph above shows the ladies of the Class of 1948 dressed in their nurses’ uniforms, accompanied by Bishop Michael J. Ready, the namesake of Bishop Ready High School in Columbus, Ohio. Ready served as the fifth bishop of the Diocese of Columbus from 1945-1957.

Elminie Rickman hands diplomas to two kindergarten graduates, ca. 1953-1969. Via Ohio Memory.

Graduations are special occasions, and often inspire more formal, or even fancy, attire. On Ohio Memory, you can see a Venetian white lace gown belonging to Mina Miller–daughter of inventor Lewis Miller, and future wife of American inventor and businessman Thomas Edison–which was worn for her graduation from Akron High School in 1883. Miller married Edison three years later, in 1886.

Graduations aren’t only for high school and college students! The photograph at right shows Elminie Holland Rickman with two children dressed in caps and gowns for their kindergarten commencement from Rick’s Child Guidance Center. In the early 1950s, Rickman founded Rick’s Child Guidance Center, the oldest African American school and the second-oldest kindergarten in Columbus.

Rickman graduated from Benedict College in Columbia, South Carolina, with her Bachelor’s degree and a teaching certification for elementary education. In 1947, Rickman joined her husband in Columbus, where she began her kindergarten in her home starting in 1952; she later moved the school to 297 Woodland Avenue on Columbus’s Near East Side, where she had 100 students and five teachers. She continued to run the kindergarten until 1992.

Excerpt from “Teachers’ Wishes to Seniors” in the 1930 Hixonian, the Hicksville High School yearbook. Courtesy of the Defiance Public Library System Digital Archive via Ohio Memory.

As you prepare for graduation season, take a look at the graduate and class portraits from the 19th and 20th centuries, graduation invitations and programs in the Muskingum County Collection, and yearbooks from high schools throughout the state on Ohio Memory.With a turn of the tassel and a toss of the cap, congratulations Class of 2017!

Thanks to Kristen Newby, metadata coordinator at the Ohio History Connection, for this week’s post!



Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.