History Nebraska Blog

Early 20th Century Letters to Santa from Pleasant Hill School in Keith County

The NSHS Archives holds a collection relating to the Maunder family from Hastings, Nebraska. The bulk of the collection consists of diaries kept by Edith Maunder and two of her daughters, Vera Maunder and Ellen Maunder Ritchey. While the collection includes an impressive run of diaries dating from 1879-1979, we wanted to share a few other interesting items found in the collection. Ellen Maunder Ritchey attended Hastings College and became a school teacher. Here is the souvenir booklet she kept from her first year of teaching at the Pleasant Hill School in Keith County. Her photograph is attached to the front cover.

Souvenir booklet, Pleasant Hill School (RG5707.AM, B2, F18)


It's interesting to note that the only five students listed at the school were the children of the school officers.

Pleasant Hill School students (RG5707.AM, B2, F18)


Also included in the collection are a series of weekly school “newspapers” that Miss Maunder had the children create. The earliest issues are interesting because they are all handwritten and illustrated by the children.

Pleasant Hill Weekly, vol. 1, no. 1 (RG5707.AM, B2, F17)


Pleasant Hill Weekly list of staff (RG5707.AM, B2, F17)


With such a small class, each student had to take on many responsibilities at the “newspaper.” We especially enjoyed the “School News” and “Neighborhood News” sections.

School News, p. 5


Neighborhood News, p. 6


Because it’s that time of year, we wanted to share two more items from the collection. Miss Maunder saved letters to Santa Claus from each of her students. In this letter, in addition to the list of presents, Doris Ogle asks Santa Claus to end the war in Europe.

Letter to Santa Claus (RG5707.AM, B2, F18)


We just had to share this last letter because it seemed so sad! Dorothy Beckius tells Santa that she has “nearly outgrown childhood” and wants to write one last letter before she is “forgotten.”

Letter to Santa Claus (RG5707.AM, B2, F18)


We hope she received what she requested, and we hope you all have a happy holiday season!

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