Elaine M. Kilbourne Scrapbooks

Celebrating Anacostia Chemistry Teacher Elaine Kilbourne

The Anacostia Community Museum holds several collections related to Washington, DC educators. Most of these records document the contributions of women who distinguished themselves in their careers as teachers, educators, or administrators. Our Elaine M. Kilbourne Scrapbooks, 1924-2014, document the life and work of Anacostia High School teacher Ms. Kilbourne (1923-2014), and her impact on generations of students.


Ms. Kilbourne, Anacostia High School Chemistry Class, undated. 


Ms. Kilbourne taught chemistry at Anacostia High School in Washington, DC from 1948 to 1968. Throughout her long career, she earned a local and national reputation for excellence in her teaching  methods. In 1955, she received a special award from the Chemical Society of Washington for her excellence teaching. In 1958 and 1963, Ms. Kilbourne received Principal Awards for Excellence in Science Teaching by the District of Columbia. The American Chemical Society recognized her contribution to the STEM field with numerous awards, including the Second District James Bryant Conan Award in High School Chemistry Teaching.


Ms. Kilbourne created her scrapbooks in 3-ring binders, she used a combination of magnetic album sleeves and grid paper to affix her memorabilia. The scrapbooks contain correspondence, photographs, newsclippings, certificates, and copies of science projects she created while she worked as a Science Education Specialist at the Food and Drug Administration. 


All three Kilbourne scrapbooks in the collection are scheduled for imaging thanks to a Smithsonian Women’s Committee Grant to fund the digitization and promotion of select female-authored materials held within six Smithsonian archival units. The digitized materials will then be available in the Smithsonian Transcription Center for digital volunteers to transcribe. This will allow the public to discover and share the story of Ms. Kilbourne’s contribution to the STEM field.


Prior to deconstruction of the scrapbooks each page is photographed and numbered so we don't lose the original order during digitization and rehousing.


To learn more about the accomplishments of Elaine M. Kilbourne view: Ms. Kilbourne:  Chemistry Teacher Extraordinaire.

*This blog post was originally published on the Smithsonian Collections Blog