A Gift to the Archives: A Special Note from “Pansy”

                                     “Pansy’s” envelope advertising Rollins, 1888

We are happy to share this latest addition to the Archives:  an envelope featuring a Rollins advertisement, along with a note card from children’s author Isabella “Pansy” Alden, and a badge given to members of the Pansy Society. These items, donated by Gary R. Planck, J.D., and his wife, Prof. Carolyn R. Planck, provide a glimpse of both Rollins and its ties to the Alden family, who were part of the College’s earliest history. Mr. Planck has kindly provided the following look at this history (below, with photos from the Archives).


This is an original advertising envelope with a crossed out printed return address of “Rollins College,/Winter Park, Florida.”; a postmark reading “Jamestown, N.Y./Oct 22 2 PM/88”; and a cancelled two cent United States postage stamp with on the reverse of the envelope an advertisement for the recently founded Rollins College in 1885.  The envelope and enclosed note, the latter dated October 20, 1888, is handwritten by Mrs. Gustav Rosenberg (Isabella MacDonald) “Pansy” Alden (1841-1930) of 416 West 3rd Street, Jamestown, New York, to Lottie L. Snow (1877-1941) of West Chelmsford, Massachusetts, apparently received on October 28, 1888, according to a postmark on the reverse of the envelope stamped over a small portion of the Rollins College advertisement.

              Author Isabella MacDonald Alden, known as “Pansy” to her readers

Mrs. Alden wrote children’s literature-authoring some two hundred books, as well as doing article writing, magazine editing, and Chautauqua speaking.  It appears Miss Snow became an educator, living at 215 School Street (1940 Census) and serving as superintendent of a Chelmsford Methodist Church School as late as 1940. (Lowell Sun, 06/21). Mrs. Alden’s note to Miss Snow reads: “Dear Lottie: I warmly welcome/you to the P.S. that you may be one/of the brightest and best among the/5000 members and all for/Jesus’ sake, dear one. Keep/Jesus in mind daily, hourly./Will you, will you, dear, dear/Lottie, come what may? Aff/-Pansy-.” “P.S.” stands for “Pansy Society” with its whisper motto “For Jesus Sake” associated with Mrs. Alden’s magazine, The Pansy (1874-1896).

                                                           Pansy’s card to Lottie

                                        The Pansy Society’s satin membership badge

So how did this note happen to come to Miss Snow in a Rollins College envelope?  About 1887-1888 Rev. and Mrs. Alden built a house at the northeast corner of Lyman and Interlachen Avenues in Winter Park, wishing to live there at least part of the year for son Raymond MacDonald Alden’s health.  Rev. Alden (1832-1924) served as a Rollins trustee under its first president and son Raymond (1873-1924) attended Rollins Preparatory School from 1886 to 1890 and then Rollins College for two years before transferring to the University of Pennsylvania in 1894; therefore, the potential sources for the envelope. Because of the advertisement, the item has two significant aspects—its relationship to a very famous writer of the era and to the very early years of Rollins College.

                                        Pansy Cottage, the Aldens’ Winter Park home

As for the latter, one learns tuition was $33.00 Preparatory and $50.00 Collegiate, and room and board were $165.00 with “Cottages for Ladies and Gentlemen new and neatly furnished.”  Music tuition was $33.00, and instrument was $9.00, but calisthenics were free! Rollins College was said to be a Christian institution with fourteen instructors at that time.   Five references are provided—two from Florida, two from New York, and one from Massachusetts–and Dr. Henry B. Foster, M.D., proclaimed, “No place in Florida is more healthful or beautiful.”  Those interested in possibly attending the new school in the South could write Reverend Edward P. Hooker, D.D., (1834-1904), Rollins College’s first president serving until 1892.

Some testimonials from the College’s first catalogue, 1885 (click on the image to enlarge)

This Rollins College Advertisement with enclosures (note card and membership badge) purchased from Michael J. McMorrow in North Clarendon, Vermont, was acquired in May, 2014, by Gary R. and Carolyn R. Planck of Winter Park, Florida. For more information about Mrs. Alden and family visit www.isabellamacdonaldalden.com.


As Mr. Planck has noted, Pansy Alden was a very popular author.  A number of her books and several issues of Pansy magazine are available in the Department of Archives and Special Collections at the Olin Library.

                       A small selection of the “Pansy” titles in our Special Collections

We’re very happy and grateful to received these rare items for the Archives.  Thank you, Mr. and Mrs. Planck!

~ by D. Moore, Archival Specialist


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