Learning School History

NAPS Freshmen Class, 1927. Dorothy Partridge is one of these girls in the photograph.

Yesterday I had a visitor by the name of Dorothy Partridge. This was interesting in more ways than one. She is the namesake of the original Dorothy Partridge (1912-1927) who was attending the North Avenue Presbyterian School (NAPS) and was in the 9th grade in the 1926-1927 school year.  She originally came to the school in the 8th grade. (NAPS was one of our predecessor schools and had changed its name to The Westminster Schools in 1951.)

Lois Partridge, 1937 (NAPS ’40)

One afternoon, after getting off of a streetcar in downtown Atlanta, she was struck by a drunk driver and was instantly killed. Her parents created the Dorothy Partridge Memorial Cup in 1928 “as an award for the most unselfish service among her classmates” and the award is still given today to a ninth grade girl. The original cup is engraved with the names of the winners from 1928-1998. Today, the awardee is given an engraved silver bowl. Dorothy’s sister, Lois Partridge, was given the award in 1937, and according to her niece Dorothy, “was one of the highlights of her time at NAPS.” She was very proud that she had earned that particular award.

Dorothy Partridge holding the Dorothy Partridge Memorial Cup, honoring her Aunt Dorothy.

Ms. Dorothy Partridge was a very engaged researcher, and we visited for over an hour. She was able to provide me with more background on her aunt and the family in general. The archives does not have a good photograph of Dorothy Partridge, as the class pictures in the yearbooks at that time were of everyone, with an alphabetical class list on the following page. I provided the current Ms. Partridge with a jpeg of that yearbook page, so that she can work with the family and figure out which girl is actually Dorothy.

The archives and the library will be closed for renovations this summer, but we have made plans for her and her sister to come back in August 2013, complete with family photographs of Dorothy as well as letters that she wrote in her short lifetime. She apparently even wrote one letter to a family member on the same day she was killed. I can’t wait for this family to come back and share their knowledge. Ms. Partridge has already completed quite a bit of research on her aunt and will bring that as well.

I am finding that one of the perks of the job, especially in a relatively “recent” school, is speaking directly with family members of students, faculty, or staff who have made a difference in the life of the school. As an archivist and a historian, I enjoy hearing directly from the family and finding out information that is not yet written down anywhere. I encourage you to reach out through your alumni office, through social media, and through your school’s website to “get the word out” about your collections and hopefully can reach those family or friends who can provide more depth to your school’s history.

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