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"The Academy Girls," Franklin, Indiana scrapbook

 Collection — Volume: V037
Identifier: V037

Scope and Contents

This collection comprises a scrapbook from "The Academy Girls" (later the Old Academy Girls' Association) in Franklin, Indiana ranging from 1905 to 1923 regarding alumnae from "The Old Academy." The scrapbook was created by Martha Coleman Johnson, first secretary and treasurer of the organization, and subsequent secretary, Lena Sauer.


  • 1905-1923


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Legal title, copyright, and literary rights reside with Rare Books and Manuscripts, Indiana State Library, Indianapolis, IN. All requests to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted to Rare Books and Manuscripts.

Biographical Note

Martha "Mattie" Abigail Coleman was born to Jesse Gouch and Nancy (Pritchard) Coleman on March 3, 1849 in Tipton County Indiana. Two years later, the family moved to Johnson County. Coleman attended the Franklin Academy (often referred to as "the Old Academy") and the Indiana State Normal School at Terre Haute. She also attended the Normal School in Oswego, New York in preparation for her teaching career. Coleman was a teacher from the age of 16. In 1870, she taught primary grade at the old North School (later Payne Elementary) in Franklin. She married Richard Menifee Johnson (1846-1902) in 1873 and they had 2 children: Emerson Meredith (1874-1899) and Marie (1884-1967). Mattie Johnson continued teaching after her marriage until 1884, for a total of 12 years. In the early 1880s, she became a suffragsit and joined the Equal Franchise League of Indiana.

Johnson and her family lived in Franklin until her husband was appointed to the U.S. Department of the Treasury in 1885 and they moved to Washington, D.C. They lived there until Richard's death in 1902, when Johnson returned to Franklin. When women received the right to vote in 1920, she served as the first Democratic vice-chairman of Johnson County in 1920 and organized the local women in the Democratic Party. Johnson also helped found the county's public library and served on its board. She was a writer and local historian, contributing numerous articles on pioneer history to the Franklin Star and contributed often to Kate Milner Rabb's column, "A Hoosier Listening Post," in the Indianapolis Star. Johnson also wrote a history of the Pritchard family in 1915. She was a member of the Women's Press Club of Indiana, the Women's Study Club of Franklin, the Civic League, the Old Academy Girls' Association, and the Daughters of the American Revolution. Johnson died on September 23, 1937 and was buried in Greenlawn Cemetery in Franklin.


Item in the collection. "Martha Coleman." 1850 United States Federal Census. Accessed July 24, 2023. "Mattie C. Johnson." 1880 United States Federal Census. Accessed July 24, 2023. "Mattie C. Johnson." 1920 United States Federal Census. Accessed July 24, 2023. "Martha C. Johnson." 1930 United States Federal Census. Accessed July 24, 2023. "Martha C. Johnson." Indiana, U.S., Death Certificates, 1899-2017. Accessed July 24, 2023. "Martha Abigail Coleman Johnson." Find a Grave Memorial. Accessed July 24, 2023.

"Mrs. R. M. Johnson, Former Teacher, Is Dead at Home Here."Franklin Evening Star, September 23, 1937. Accessed July 24, 2023.

Historical Note

The "Old Academy" in Franklin, Indiana was started in 1855 when school trustees purchased Lot 5 on East Monroe Street in Franklin. The building constructed was the first public school erected in the town. It was founded with the intention to teach more advanced courses of studies to male and female students in the area. The school operated for over 12 years until the North School building was built at North Water and Adams streets in 1970. The former academy building was sold to the Huber brothers, who used it for a furniture factory until it was destroyed in a fire in 1893. The South grade school building was later constructed on the location. Eventually the site became a part of Franklin College.


The Academy Girls were an organization of alumnae who attended the "Old Academy" in Franklin, Indiana from 1858 until its closure in 1870. It later became known as the Old Academy Girls' Association. They were formed when a group of 11 former students met on May 26, 1905 to organize a reunion. Sarah D. Sibert was appointed president of the organization and Martha "Mattie" Coleman Johnson, the secretary. Membership cost $0.10 to defray incidental fees for things like postage cards and stamps. They also formed a committee to create and print a souvenir card for their reunion.

The first reunion was held on June 6, 1905 at Greenwood Park, where 36 women attended. Each alumna received a souvenir card and a pink or white carnation upon enrolling and paying the memberhip fee. The attendees had dinner, followed by business and social programs in the pavilion. The reunion adjorned with the next reunion set for June 26, 1906 at Garfield Park in Indianapolis. It was actually held at Greenwood Park again in 1906. The fourth meeting was a joint reunion with the Old Academy Boys. Across the years around 150 "girls" were members and approximately 35-50 of them met at the reunions each year. The meetings continued annually until the outbreak of World War I in 1914. Reunions resumed on July 12, 1923. The daughters of members were also invited to attend and the eldest daughter was voted in as an active member upon the death of her mother.


Item in the collection.

"Academy Girls." Franklin Democrat, June 29, 1906. Accessed July 24, 2023.

"Fifty-One Academy Girls Attend 14th Reunion Thursday." Franklin Evening Star, July 6, 1924. Accessed July 24, 2023.

"Former Franklin Academy Pupils. Indianapolis Star, July 11, 1929. Accessed July 24, 2023. ProQuest.

"Old Academy Girls Meet After 7 Years." Franklin Evening Star, July 13, 1923. Accessed July 24, 2023.

"Old Academy Girls Meet Again July 12." Franklin Evening Star, July 4, 1923. Accessed July 24, 2023.

Rabb, Kate Milner. "A Hoosier Listening Post." Indianapolis Star, June 26, 1926. Accessed July 24, 2023. ProQuest.


0.1 Cubic Feet (1 volume)

Language of Materials



This collection consists of one item.

Custodial History

This collection was received by Rare Books and Manuscripts as a records transfer from Indiana Division on 2023/06/22.


No further additions are expected.

Historical Context Note

The Indiana State Library strives to provide extensive access to our diverse collections, in person and online. Materials within these collections appear as they were originally published or created and may include content that that some viewers find offensive or objectionable. These materials are preserved and presented to provide a true historical representation of their time and should be viewed in the context in which they were created.

Processing Information

Collection processed 2022/07/24 by Brittany Kropf. EAD finding aid created 2023/07/24 by Brittany Kropf.
"The Academy Girls," Franklin, Indiana scrapbook
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Rare Books and Manuscripts Repository

140 North Senate Avenue
Indianapolis, Indiana 46204 U.S.A.