Proctor School students visit Northborough Historical Society Museum
By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
Northborough – Third-graders from Fannie E. Proctor Elementary School took a field trip June 18 to the Northborough Historical Society Museum, where they learned more about the town as well as their school’s namesake. The museum features a classroom setting with a college photo of Proctor dated 1904-1905. Another photo captures Proctor with her first-grade students.
A mannequin represents the teacher wearing a circa-1890 blouse with leg-of-mutton sleeves and a tailored wool skirt. The attire prompted a student to comment, “She’s dressed fancy for a teacher.”
Guiding the students’ tour were Historical Society members Ellen Racine, curator; Linda Corbin; Jo-Ann Sullivan; and Bob Ellis, historian.
“They were attentive and raised their hands to ask questions,” Ellis said of the visiting third-graders.
An inquisitive student asked, “What does the ‘E’ stand for in Fannie E. Proctor?”
The tour guide was stumped. A showcase containing Proctor’s teacher employment contract was checked. However, the contract states only the initial of her middle name.
According to Principal Margaret Donohoe, the middle name is Ethel.
“Some time ago we did a research project on her, so the information was investigated then,” she explained.
Another student’s curiosity was piqued when noticing a sign that reads: “Goods made by Josiah Proctor’s shop.”
“Yes, they were relatives,” Ellis confirmed of Josiah and Fannie. “The Proctor family was prominent in town for quite a long time.”
Josiah Proctor’s shop was located at the property now occupied by Sawyer’s Bowladrome at 13 Blake St.
Ellis particularly enjoyed the students’ reaction at what could have been their first glimpse of a non-digital cash register. Displayed at the museum is an old-fashioned cash register used by three generations at the Shattuck Pharmacy, which was established in 1898 at its original location inside the old Town Hall.
“They always get excited about that cash register,” Ellis said. “It’s interesting seeing them trying to connect that world when things were so different to their world now.”
Another item that caught students’ attention was a Chet’s Diner menu, dated 1944. Several of them shared that their families have taken them to the diner, which opened in 1931.
“One of the best aspects of doing this is seeing people make connections,” Ellis said. “Maybe now they understand a little more about the town than they did before.”
For more information about the Northborough Historical Society, which was founded in 1906, visit northboroughhistoricalsociety.org.
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