A Girl’s Own Christmas

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Cover of The Girl’s Own Annual Vol. 39, No. 3.

In our latest adventures as graduate assistants, Rebecca Bramlett and I have been learning how to digitize serials for the FSU Digital Library. This process involves scanning materials in the Digital Library Center, editing them, uploading them, and creating metadata for each issue. Using metadata to describe important features of the serials – such as date issued, subjects, and summary of contents – will make them easier to locate through database searches.

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Illustration from The Girl’s Own Annual (1917)

For this project, we are digitizing Volume 39 (12 issues) of The Girl’s Own Annual, a British serial for girls and young women that was published from 1880 until the 1950s. Volume 39 was published in 1917-1918, during World War I, when the girls’ and women’s publications were combined into The Girl’s Own Paper and Woman’s Magazine. Each issue of The Girl’s Own Annual contains a mixture of serial fiction, recipes, knitting and sewing patterns, housekeeping advice, and articles on topics of interest, such as the royal family, women’s education, and women’s contributions to the war effort. The Girl’s Own Annual is part of the John M. Shaw Childhood in Poetry Collection and will be added to the Poetry in the Great War collection in the FSU Digital Library.

Since winter break is almost upon us, this is the perfect time to take a look at the 1917 Christmas issue of The Girl’s Own Annual (Vol. 39, No. 3). For your reading enjoyment, let me present you with:

Five Ways to Have a Girl’s Own Christmas:

  1. Curl up with a stack of serial fiction. It’s the early-twentieth century version of a Netflix binge. The Christmas issue is fourteen pages longer than usual and full of extra stories. There’s the first two chapters of “The White Towers” – the story of a mysterious artist and the young art student who captures his attention – as well as two chapters of the romance story “Cicely Ann,” “The Typewriter’s Story: Which Ends with a Wedding,” and several Christmas-themed morality tales. A cup of tea and a roaring fire are optional but highly recommended.
  2. Then read something a little more substantial. Once you’ve satiated your serial fiction needs, you might want to turn to something more informative, such as a discussion of future inventions by Alexander Graham Bell (predicting a time “when we may be able to talk with a man in any part of the world by telephone and without wires”) or the editor’s article on women working outside the home.
  3. Sketch a snowy landscape. Issue No. 3 contains “When Snow is on the Landscape: The Fifth Article on Sketching in Colour,” with advice for sketching in the snow for those who won’t be spending their Christmas in Florida. Just remember, “If you begin to feel unmistakably chilly, pack up straight away.”
  4. Cook an elaborate Christmas dinner. 
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    Children’s styles from 1917

    If you’re looking for a break from the usual turkey or ham, perhaps you could serve roast goose, venison, or pheasants? They would go well with potatoes baked with meat and mashed Jerusalem artichokes. And of course, no holiday is complete without old-fashioned Christmas pudding and a prune mould!

  5. Give everyone a homemade present. In a sea of mass-produced consumer goods, perhaps nothing says “I love you” better than a hand-crocheted cap or bonnet, a set of d’oillies with embroidery and filet crochet, or a homemade children’s coat (shown right).

Volume 39 of The Girl’s Own Annual is available to read online at the FSU Digital Library. Additional volumes from the 1880s-1920s are also available in the John M. Shaw Childhood in Poetry Collection and may be accessed through the Special Collections Research Center.

Katherine Hoarn is a graduate assistant in Special Collections & Archives. She is working on her Master of Library and Information Science degree at Florida State University.

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