The following article appeared in a recent school newsletter, “eLink” from the Head of Junior School, Mr Donald Thompson:
Two weeks ago a former Girton College student presented the school with a small autograph album that belonged to her grandmother, Miss Elsie Filcock.
The album was from 1908 and contained a collection of sketches, signatures, paintings and sayings that were no doubt contributed by other students and acquaintances who were friends of Miss Filcock. The first entry in the album is by another student, Miss Florence Young. It reads “In your chain of friendships, regard me as a link, 19/3/08”.
The album is filled with thoughtful, witty and funny quotes written to Miss Filcock while she was a student at Girton College over 107 years ago. In amongst the writing, carefully drawn sketches and paintings there is a simple watercolour painted for Miss Filcock by another young Girton College student Ola Cohn. Ola went on to become a famous Victorian sculptor. Her work includes The Fairies’ Tree in Fitzroy Gardens.
When I shared the album and its contents with our children at assembly they were excited to see the work of students from so long ago, particularly the painting by Ola alongside some images of her work. While they were enjoying the images I posed the question, “What legacy will you leave behind for others to see?” In the digital age it is an interesting question.
In 1908 a simple Friendship Album provided not only a means of sharing friendship thoughts and well wishes, even in the form of drawings or paintings, but it also served as a time capsule for the student to reflect on in later life. Indeed we are still reflecting on these items 107 years later. With the popularity of social media I wondered aloud what legacy children today would leave for their friends to reflect on and challenged each of them to go home and write, draw or paint something for a friend. Whatever the product I am sure their friends will cherish the message behind it and reflect fondly when they are long past school. Perhaps the Girton students of 2115 will be fortunate enough to share these messages too.
Mr Donald Thompson Head of Junior School