Sunday, November 21, 2010


My copy of French Essence finally arrived last week and I was so excited to get it.  What a gorgeous coffee table book.  Vicki included a chapter on collections and in it she reminds us that "one simple purchase can start a collection."  Reading and looking at the photographs of collections made me start thinking about some of my collections.  The first thought that came to mind is my collection of old primers that I've had for many years. These primers aren't just any old primers.  They're from a school in my hometown and are a part of civil rights history.

I'm from a town that didn't even exist until the late 1940's but in 1949 a very strong black woman by the name of Pearl Stephens donated some of her own land so that a school could be built for the black children living in the community.  Before that black children would have to gather in local churches for school lessons because they weren't allowed to attend the schools built for white children.  The primers in my collection are books from the early days of Pearl Stephens Elementary School and are very beautiful in their own way. Click on Pearl Stephens to read about the history of the school.  Finally, thanks to Pearl Stephens, the black community "had its first tax-supported school, furnished with secondhand books. . . ."
Maybe it's because I taught school at one point in my working life, but I think these books are a treasure.  
Obviously the books were used over and over by generations of children and as the original binding wore out, they were lovingly restored using whatever materials that might be available.  I love being able to open the cover of one of the books to find wallpaper with pricing information. 

Textbooks are now being replaced by Kindle-type readers so I guess all textbooks will become a thing of the past but for now I love the old worn out primers that carry with them a part of American history. 


  1. Oh my gosh! Those are amazing. Lucky girl.

  2. What an wonderful collection it is-and to be from your area-such history-just love it!

  3. Hi!

    Thanks for your sweet comment!

    Wow, lovely finds!!!

    Hugs from Sweden

    PS your grand daughters are sooo cute..!

  4. What fun to own these books. They are charming! As a retired teacher I can so appreciate these treasures.
    Happy Day! ~ Sarah

  5. What a great collection! I am getting my copy of French Essence this week and I can hardly wait!

  6. Beautiful books...and what makes them even more beautiful is the remarkable story behind them. Hope you enjoy a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends.


  7. Can't wait to get mine! So excited.
    Thank you for stopping by. saw that you are interested in law. I have a masters in law and I am an advanced paralegal but have never used it.
    Have a great day.

  8. I seriously hope text books will never become a thing of the past. As much as I love the internet and technology I will never give my books away.

    I'm glad I found your blog.

  9. I adore vintage books of all kinds. There is something so enduring about them and I always wonder how many lives they influenced.

    Your primers are extra special!

  10. I agree with you; I was a teacher once too and I love the feel of old textbooks; I love old books, period. The feel of the pages, the large print and most of all the beautiful drawings and engravings. Indeed a part of American history, to be cherished as such.

  11. I should have known you were a teacher in another life, Jojo as well as a ballerina!

    This wonderful old primer is a real treasure! I grew up near the home of William Holmes McGuffey, author of the McGuffey Reader. Did you know he memorized the entire Bible?