Helen P. Young's Sketchbook
About fifteen years ago, a small sketch pad done by a high school girl named Helen P. Young, "Class of 1896", was found among my grandfather's effects.
Helen may have been a student at the high school in Chillicothe, Ohio, from which my grandfather graduated, one of graduating class of sixteen, in 1898.
These pictures would probably never be called great art; the work is fairly rudimentary, although gracefully done, and seems to be largely copied from illustrations from periodicals such as "The Century" magazine.
But the mystery of the sketchbook's semi-anonymity, and the simple charm of the sketches themselves on the yellowed paper, and the interest in history they may inspire, make these little pictures worth keeping. For example, the sketches of the British J-Boat Valkyrie III and the Herreshoff-designed Defender, opponents in the 1895 America's Cup Races (the Defender won) may be of interest to sailors and amateur Cup historians.
The sketchbook could have easily been lost or thrown away more than a century ago- it could have been seen as of no significance.
Fortunately, it was saved, in accordance to Helen's written notice: "High School Work Keep", at the top of the cover page.
Whoever Helen P. Young was, she likely has descendants. There is no doubt she has a story, although I know nothing of it. She probably died years before the Internet, and home scanners and digital imagery, and never dreamed that, after an intervening century and more, her high school work would be kept, and be put into a kind of virtual world museum, on line, for all the world to