Latin School of Chicago

Latin Magazine Fall 2016

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Page 58 of 59

Looking Back 1871 census (top); 1930 census (bottom) all Canadian census records through 1881. e first U.S. census she appears in is the 1900 census, living on Scott Street. (She definitely would have been in the 1890 census, as she founded Latin in 1888, but those records were destroyed in a fire in the 1920s). So Mabel's clearly Canadian, right? e plot thickened when I found her birth record: Mary Isabella Vickery, registered in Winchester, MA, born September 13, 1854. But that directly contradicted all census records that named Nova Scotia as her birthplace. After a lengthy phone conversation with an archivist at the Massachusetts State Archives, a likely scenario emerged: In the 1850s, and through most of the late 19th century, the border between Canada and the U.S. was extremely fluid. It was not uncommon for a family to register Canadian-born children in the U.S. Mabel was likely born in Nova Scotia, but sometime during her first year her parents crossed the border and registered her in Winchester, MA. e family clearly spent the majority of their time in Canada, as evidenced by census records, but once Ms. Vickery was in high school, they began spending more time in the U.S., as evidenced by newspaper articles, and even sent Mabel to a high school in Massachusetts. And it was in the U.S. that Mabel finished her education and learned and promoted the Quincy Method, on which Latin is founded. So was Mabel Canadian? is we know for sure: In the final years of her life, Mabel maintained that she was born in Canada and she spent the majority of her childhood in Nova Scotia. And I finally did track down Ms. Vickery's grave. While looking through Mabel's letters in the archives, I came across a short, handwritten note from alumna Josephine Wilkins, (Class of 1907, long-time friend of Mabel and the first female student admitted to Latin) which simply read: "Ms. Vickery was buried in Lindenwood Cemetery, Stoneham, MA." After I contacted the cemetery, a caretaker sent us pictures of Mabel's stone and family plot, and this past summer colleague Stephanie Seweryn detoured on a family trip to visit her gravesite. We have plans to honor her final resting place when the Alumni Office visits Boston in the future." Latin Magazine ยป Fall 2016

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