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Viola Barnes, Student

Viola Florence Barnes was born in Albion, Nebraska, in 1885. She received a Bachelor of Music degree and a B.A. and M.A. in English Literature from the University of Nebraska, and a Ph.D. from Yale University in 1919. Miss Barnes was an instructor at the University of Nebraska from 1912 -1916 and at Mount Holyoke College from 1919 to 1952 where she was chair of the History Department and later chair of American Culture. She died in 1979.


The Barnes Family collection of the Nebraska State Historical Society includes both an autograph book belonging to Viola while attending school in Albion and two unique handmade booklets known as "mystic albums"

"Mystic albums" were composed of letters written by friends on sheets of stationery that were then folded so that the messages were hidden and tied with ribbon to keep them closed. Visible on the outside of each of the folded letters was the date on which it was to be opened and read. These dates were sometimes specific, sometimes relative, but always seemed to have a significance known at least to the author and the recipient of the note.

Open when you happen to think of me
Open on your next birthday
Open after you graduate in music
To be opened between 5 & 6 a.m. during the month of June in Albion
To be opened last of all

The letters are fairly typical autograph entries, although they are usually written in prose not verse, and are usually longer than the normal autograph inscription.

Dear little Sally:--
Yes I will write in your mystic album. When you read this I will be having my nineteenth birthday. Oh! I wonder if it will be spent at the dear old "Con". Probably it will not be hailed like Jessie's twenty-third.
I am beginning to realize that soon we must leave the "Con". probably never to return and possibly never to see one another again. A sadness creeps over me.The future is like this book "mysterious" and I hope it will be bright and fair for you.
Elsie Mengedoht Open Jan. 6 1905
1611 Kymer Ave.
Omaha Nebr.
June 14 1904



Hide Paintings and
       Ledger Books

Diaries and Journals
  J.A. Hill, Civil War
  W. Richards, Surveyor
  J.S. Morton, Statesman
  Sara J. Price, Teacher
       & Homesteader
  W. Danley, Businessman
  J. & E. Green, Farmers        & Homesteaders
  S. Buck, Farm Wife

Autograph Albums
  S. & E. Allis, Missionaries
  E. & L. Correll, Suffragists
  W.J. Bryan, Orator
  Lucy Drexel, Student
Viola Barnes, Student

  D. Canfield, Author
  Willa Cather, Author
  C. Calvert, Educator
  Fenton. B. Fleming,
  Myrtle Soulier, Student
  Verna Cort, Student
  Martha McKelvie,
       Movie Columnist
  Emogine Moor,
       Women's Army Corps
  Scrapbooking Today

Photograph Albums
  W. B. Watson, Porter
  Margaret and Edward
       Gehrke, Adventurers
  Nan Aspinwall,
  Frances M. Creech,

  Edith Withers Meyers,
  Sierra Nevada Bunnell,

Home Movies

Future Memories


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Last updated 15 April 2010  

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