Nineteenth century text messaging

Written by: Andrew Lundeen

Primary Source: The Special Collections Provenance Project at MSU

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Nineteenth century text messaging:Two pupils use a blank leaf in their Latin textbook to pass notes about school, girls.  The messages are dated Oct. 22, 1877, and offer some insight into the concerns of students nearly 140 years ago (note: they were much the same as they are today).

A: What do you think about graduating? You won’t catch me being examined.

B: They don’t do it in other schools. The hateful old thing don’t want us to graduate.

A: No he don’t. And we won’t do it either. They don’t in other schools; of course not.

A: Is that lady after Charlie XXXXX or he after her?

B: Both after each other I guess. We were over there yesterday and I got some acquainted with her. She is real pleasant what I saw of her. She is one of Clarks pupils in Granville.

A: Clark [?] says that all those who expect to finish school this year will be required to pass a thorough examination before finishing, in all of the studies they have been over. That is, I suppose, all the studies we have studied in this room.

B: How nice that will be. How you all will enjoy it.

A: he won’t do it; I don’t care enough about graduating to do it.

Several of the volumes in our 19th century textbook collection feature notes and conversations between schoolchildren penciled in their margins or flyleaves. A clever way to pass notes in class without the teacher being the wiser, perhaps?


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Andrew Lundeen
Andrew Lundeen, a Special Collections Librarian at MSU, is a recent master’s graduate in Library and Information Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (‘14). Since September 2013, Andrew has spearheaded the MSU Provenance Project, an effort to document marks of ownership and marks of use in rare books at MSU.
Andrew Lundeen

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