May/June Character feature

This issue's featured girl: Samantha

From the American Girls Club Handbook:

Project One: Pay a Proper Call

Pay a call just as Samantha might have done in 1904. Make elegant calling cards to bring with you, too! In Samantha's time, people set aside "at home days" to receive callers. Today, you should arrange your visit ahead of time.
1) Dress in your very best--a clean dress, shiny shoes, and a pretty hairbow. Make sure not a hair is out of place.
2) Do not sit in the best seat unless your hostess seats you there. Sit up straight and tall. No fidgeting!
3) Discuss only subjects of interest to everyone. It is not proper to discuss your health or clothing, politics, money, or diseases. Stay only 15 minutes.
4) A proper way to take your leave is to say, "Miss_______, your company is so agreeable that I am staying longer than I intended. But I hope to have the pleasure of seeing you again soon."

Make Calling Cards
You will need: scissors, magazines or greeting cards, glue, 5 unlined cards--3 by 4 inches, a pencil, black felt-tip pen, small bowl, foam paintbrush--1 inch wide.
1) Cut out small pictures from old magazines or greeting cards. Glue one picture onto each card.
2) Use a pencil to write your name lightly on each card. Trace over your signature with a black pen. Let the ink dry.
3) Squeeze a little glue into the bowl. Use the foam paintbrush to brush a thin coat of glue over each card. When the glue dries, you're ready to go calling!

Did you know?
Proper girls and ladies in the early 1900s practiced their elegant manners when they paid social calls, or visits, to friends and acquaintances. Why was it called "paying" a call? Women kept records of calls paid, received, and owed, just the way people keep track of paying bills. People left their calling cards in a special dish called a card receiver. Calls were always paid to the lady of a house, and they were an important way to show respect to her. If a call was not paid, the person felt snubbed, or treated with disrespect. Snubbing someone could be serious business. One Victorian woman remembered walking along the street and seeing a house on fire. Her first thought was to warn the owner. Then she remembered that the woman who lived in the burning house had owed her a call for some time, so she decided to continue on her way!

Project two: Make Petite Fours

Petit fours were a perfect way to end an elegant Victorian meal. Make these tiny iced cakes for yourself! (If you are young, have an adult help you!)

You will need: A frozen pound cake or sheet cake, 1 can (1 lb.) white ready-made frosting, 2 Tablespoons milk, food coloring, and decorator frosting in tubes.
Equipment: Sharp knife, mixing spoon, mixing bowl, measuring spoon, small bowls (one for each color frosting), waxed paper, cookie tray or large diner plate, and a spreading knife.

1) While the cake is still frozen, cut it into small rectangles, about 1 by 2 inches.
2) Spoon the frosting into the mixing bowl. Add the milk and stir until smooth and glossy.
3) Divide the frosting into small bowls, one for each color of frosting.
4) Sqeeze 1 or 2 drops of food coloring into each bowl. Mix well.
5) Place waxed paper on the cookie tray or plate. Arrange your cakes on the top. Space the cakes evenly so that they do not touch.
6) Spread the colored icing on your cakes. Try to make the icing cover each cake smoothly.
7) Place the iced cakes in the freezer for thirty minutes.
8) Use tubes of decorator frosting to decorate the cakes with squiggles, swirls, dots, and flowers!

Did you know?
In Samantha's time, dining with adults at a formal dinner was no simple matter. When Samantha sat down at the table, she first had to make sense of all the silverware. There were separate forks for fish, meat, and salad, and just as many knives. In addition, there was a butter knife, a soup spoon, and often a tiny fork just for raw oysters. And what would Samantha eat with all that silverware? At the turn of the century, French cooking was all the rage. Wealthy Americans wanted their cooks to make fashionable French dishes, beginning with soup and ending with nuts. In between, there were courses of fish, roast beef, salad, sometimes duck or pheasant, fruit, and several fancy desserts!

Want to know more?

Fiction books set in Samantha's time:

"Phoebe's Revolt" by Natalie Babbitt
"Hattie and the Wild Waves" by Barbara Cooney
"Fire!: The Beginnings of the Labor Movement" by Barbara Diamond Goldin

Nonfiction books about Samantha's time:
"Our Century: 1900-1910" by Janice Greene
"Ida B. Wells-Barnett: A Voice Against Violence" by Patricia and Fredrick McKissack

Movies set in Samantha's time:
A Little Princess
Mary Poppins
Meet Me in St. Louis

Music from Samantha's Time
"La Mer" by Claude Debussy
"Maple Leaf Rag" by Scott Joplin

Special places to visit:
Jane Addams's Hull-House Museum
800 South Halsted St.
Chicago, IL 60607
Jane Addams started Hull House to help immigrants in Chicago.

Susan B. Anthony House
17 Madison St.
Rochester, NY 14608
The birthplace of the famous suffragist.