Place of publication: Richmond, VA
St. Catherine’s School, Richmond, VA, was established by educator Virginia Randolph Ellett (1857–1939) by 1890. Originally named the Virginia Randolph Ellett School for Girls, St. Catherine’s was incorporated into the system of Church Schools in The Diocese of Virginia, Inc. in 1920, and named to honor Saint Catherine, the patron saint of philosophers, scholars, and young women.
Virginia Ellett is credited for bringing the Bryn Mawr College Entrance exams to Virginia in 1906. She valued English as the most important subject in the school’s curriculum, and emphasized reading, writing, and theatrical performance in the girls’ education. She believed that a woman’s “freedom of the personal spirit” was “largely measured by the ability to express itself in spoken and written words.”
In 1927, Miss Ellett’s tenth-grade students founded the school’s first newspaper, The Scrap Basket. The following year, they published news, poems, and short stories representing the whole school, grades K-12. During the School’s 50-anniversary year, 1940, students voted to change the paper's name from The Scrap Basket to The Arcadian. “Arcadian” refers to an arcade on campus that links the central building with other divisions. The name change cited confidence in the newspaper’s content. Students experimented with other publications as well, notably Odds ‘n’ Ends for the Middle School from 1932 to 1942.
Despite a dedicated staff of 16, student editors in 1944 decided the May issue would be the last Arcadian, due in part to the strains of WWII. Campus news was again in print by 1961, and in 1978, the Arcadian won a First Place Certificate from the Columbia Scholastic Press Association. Several issues in the collection are called Arcadian-Forum, deriving from the newspaper’s merge with The Forum, first published in 1993 as a venue for the expression of students’ views on timely issues and printed separately for 10 years prior. The Arcadian continues as a literary activity for St. Catherine’s students today.