The Anthony Medal in Rhode Island. Reprise, Since So Many of You Have Written

Graduation Day, 1954

Graduation Day, 1954

George J. West

George J. West

When I was at George J. West Junior High School, I wanted to win the Anthony Medal because it was the symbol of academic excellence. I did not win, but my dear friend Nick M. did.

I was reminded of it when, in our late Aunt Maria’s belongings, I found her Anthony Medal of 70 years ago. Because she was so proud of her accomplishment, as all winners should be, I researched the man  for whom the medal was named….Rhode Island statesman, Henry Bowen Anthony.
I was a bit surprised.
Henry Bowen Anthony (April 1, 1815 – September 2, 1884) was a United States newspaperman and political figure. He attended Brown University, graduating in 1833. He served as the editor of the Providence Journal. He was the Governor of Rhode Island between 1849 and 1851. He served from 1859 as a United States Republican Senator and was a strong supporter of Abraham Lincoln during the American Civil War.  He served as the President pro tempore of the United States Senate from 1869 to 1873. 
During his tenure as the editor of the Providence Journal, his anti-Catholic editorials whipped up the flames of hatred against the growing Irish and French Canadian communities in Rhode Island. Anthony won his election to the governorship on an anti-Catholic platform.
It not until the 20th century that Catholics would gain acceptance in Rhode Island.
Those who have won the Anthony Medal must and should be very proud of their accomplishments, notwithstanding the unfortunate misconceptions of Senator Anthony.
By | 2017-07-10T16:10:11+00:00 May 18th, 2015|Education, History, Stories of the 1940's and 1950's|51 Comments

51 Comments

  1. R. Jean Vallieres March 16, 2011 at 11:29 am - Reply

    I am please to state that I have a silver medal, The Senator Anthony Prize Providence Public Schools, that was awarded to Eleanor Rich Wall for Excellence in Reading, 1919, student at the Peace Street Grammar School. Quite a beautiful piece engraved with the grammarschool nameand name of Eleanor.

    • Edward Iannuccilli March 17, 2011 at 11:15 am - Reply

      You are so fortunate to have one as it represented a mark of excellence. We are proud to have my wife’s aunt’s medal.

    • Edward Iannuccilli June 11, 2011 at 9:20 pm - Reply

      Bravissima, Jean. To your great credit!

  2. Sandra Beaudry March 18, 2011 at 2:37 pm - Reply

    I am an Anthony Medal winner (1965, Central High School) and I still have my medal attached to a charm bracelet. At graduation (June 14, 1965) I had to read the essay that was awarded the prize and being a shy and self conscious person at that time, I nearly fainted from nerves. I enjoyed seeing your article about Henry Bowen Anthony as I don't recall being told much about the person that the medal represented.

  3. May Al Souz April 3, 2011 at 4:23 pm - Reply

    I read the article you wrote, It is interesting indeed …I am really proud to know such a person like you

  4. DENISE June 2, 2011 at 8:00 pm - Reply

    I WAS THE PROUD RECIPIENT OF THE ANTHONY MEDAL IN 1967 AS A STUDENT OF NATHANIEL GREEN JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOL INCLUDING 12 OTHER AWARDS AT GRADUATION. IT WAS A COMPLETE SURPRISE! THERE WERE SEVERAL STUDENTS WHO WERE GIFTED WRITERS AND WERE HIGH HONOR STUDENTS WHO PARTICIPATED IN THE COMPETITION. I DECIDED TO RECITE A BEAUTIFUL POEM, "THE PRAYING HANDS", AND ALTHOUGH I WAS A PROFESSIONAL SINGER AND WAS COMFORTABLE PERFORMING IN FRONT OF AN AUDIENCE THIS WAS VERY DIFFERENT. "EDUCATION IS AT THE ROOT OF YOUR FUTURE" MY MOTTO TO MY 3 CHILDREN TODAY.

  5. Sheena June 22, 2011 at 9:30 pm - Reply

    I have had my grandmother's medal from 1925 for a few years now, but have only recently became interested in its origins. The timing of your post was certainly fortuitous. I enjoyed readind and look forward to learning more as I continue my research. Thank you for your post, which has encouraged me to truly value an already treasured piece of my family's history.

  6. Angela September 17, 2011 at 11:39 am - Reply

    I was very interested in your research on the Anthony Medal, as I, also, was a very surprised recipient of The Anthony Medal at Nathanael Green Junior High in June of 1949. There was not a competition, at that time, and I was unaware of the medal, so it was a complete surprise. I was very shy, and my English teacher, Miss Rogers, encouraged me to write an original farewell poem and to read it at a graduation exercise. I was thinking about her recently, and remembering that I owed a great deal to her for her encouragement in so many ways. I began to wonder about the background of the medal and if it was presented at all the schools. My sister is the one who found your site and forwarded it to me. I am appreciative to my sister, and to you for your research. It answered amny of my questions. Thank you

    • Edward Iannuccilli September 18, 2011 at 6:53 pm - Reply

      What a wonderful story, Angela. Congratulations belatedly. You should be very proud. I wish I had won the Medal.
      Dr. Ed

      • Edward Iannuccilli September 21, 2011 at 11:08 am - Reply

        Yes, June, and i remember how they coddled that pasta after they made it. As if it were a new born baby.
        Thanks for your comments, always very much appreciated.
        Dr. Ed

  7. James November 27, 2011 at 8:42 pm - Reply

    Hello,I have a Senator Anthony Prize medal from 1897 in excellent condition.Would anyone know what they are worth?

    • Edward Iannuccilli November 29, 2011 at 3:33 pm - Reply

      Wow, I have no idea. You might try shopping it on Craigs List, but it is so unique to Rhode Island, I’m not sure. You might try calling the RI Historical Society.
      Thanks for reading and writing.
      Dr. Ed

  8. June's Daughter December 2, 2011 at 6:24 pm - Reply

    I was guided to your site by an article in today's ProJo, commenting on a misplaced Anthony medal. One of my favorite childhood stories concerned the Anthony medal awarded to my mother. Although she was hoping to start Classical H.S. that year, Mom’s teachers apparently persuaded her parents to keep her at the Gilbert Stuart Middle School for the 9th grade because they felt she had a very good chance of bringing the medal back to Gilbert Stuart. She did – I believe it would have been for the 1936-37 academic year. Winning this prize brought a lot of attention to this shy daughter of mill-workers, and the notoriety followed her to Classical, where much was expected of her. Although she was extremely proud of her accomplishment, Mom felt a lot of pressure to perform in high school, and curiously, felt she would have benefitted academically from that extra year at Classical! Still, she spoke of the honor with such reverence that I was filled with pride and secretly hoped I'd grow up to be just as smart. I’ve met a couple of other honorees in the years since, and as accomplished as they had become, they spoke of the city-wide recognition with similar reverence.

    • Edward Iannuccilli December 3, 2011 at 1:30 pm - Reply

      Thank you for sharing this wonderful story of modesty, pride and accomplishment. Have you seen today’s Providence Journal? There is a great Anthony Medal story there.
      I think it would be appropriate to publish your story on my blog with your permission.
      If you so agree, please let me know at e-mail
      edwrites@cox.net.
      Best,
      Dr. Ed

  9. Ted di Stefano December 4, 2011 at 8:24 pm - Reply

    Hi, Ed: My daughter just sent me this link re the Anthony Medal. I am the recipient of the Anthony Medal for the graduating class of 1955 at Mt. Pleasant High school. I recently had the medal put on a necklace as a gift to my daughter and she wears it often.

    I still love to write. Funny, though, I never thought that I would win the medal!

    But, I'm so glad that I did. Now it's a wonderful necklace for my eldest daughter. Ted

    • Edward Iannuccilli December 6, 2011 at 4:34 pm - Reply

      An accomplishment of which you should be most proud. What a great gift idea for your daughter. Thanks for sharing, Ted.
      Tante belle cose….

  10. Leo December 5, 2011 at 5:29 pm - Reply

    Dr. Ed, My grandfather Leo Meagher, won the Senator Anthony award for excellence in reading at the George C. West grammar school in 1918. I was named after Grandpa Meagher and it has been a source of pride for all in our family. My mother (Leo's daughter) gave me the medal at my college graduation with a fine silver chain and pocket watch. My family will be interested in learning what Sen. Anthony thought about Irish Catholics, which Grandpa was very proud of.
    Leo Sullivan

    • Edward Iannuccilli December 6, 2011 at 4:32 pm - Reply

      You must, and should, feel quite proud of your grandfather’s accomplishments, notwithstanding what anyone thought of the great and courageous immigrants who made it all possible for us. Bravissimo!

  11. Walter C. Caiazza October 15, 2012 at 8:15 pm - Reply

    Hello Dr. Iannuccilli: One of my friend from George J. West Jr. High, and Mount Pleasant High Jr. time, who also happens to be a Providence College graduate and to whom I told of my visits to the Italian classes at PC, sent me a link to your blog. I offer my comments on my Mount Pleasant “Anthony Medal” competion (1962-1965 Jan Class) as part of my book “Riardo, Sono Tuo Figlio” that I will finish someday. Enjoy! Best wishes to your Italian Class teacher and to all other classmates.
    Walter C. Caiazza, Moreno Valley, California 15 October 2012

    The Anthony Medal
    One competitive award at Mt. Pleasant was a contest to win the Anthony Medal. This was basically an English competition on who could write a better theme on a selected subject. I told my friends that I was thinking of entering the contest and in competing. My friends told me that since I was an immigrant and they were native born Americans, I had no chance against them. Hearing this, the challenge was on. I told them that I would enter and beat them. Well, I did. My theme was judged second best. I did not win the medal. Another classmate and good friend, Harry Hoopis, did. However, none of those American friends came close to winning. So, I had a field day enjoying my victory over them. A few weeks later, there was a mathematical contest. As revenge, they challenged me to enter. Knowing that at least one my friend was excellent in math and I hated it, I wisely did not accept the challenge. Sure enough, my friend, Edward Pitera, won that contest. He could only enjoy his winning but not bother me since I had declined to enter the contest. He also graduated in January 1965 and joined the Rhode Island Honor Society. He went on to URI and then to another school in Massachusetts. He and his girl friend (or wife) lived in Ludlow, Mass. while they were furthering their education. While on leave from the Air Force, I and the usual Jr. and High school, weekend gang of friends visited Ed several times at both locations. The last time that I visited Ed and his wife was at Hoffman Estates, around Chicago, Illinois. Both he and his wife had become Chemical Engineers and worked for Quaker Oaths Co. experimenting in making cookies. My wife and I “sampled” some of them in their house. They were good and fulfilling! Ed also became our best man at our wedding.

    • Edward Iannuccilli October 15, 2012 at 8:53 pm - Reply

      Walter, thank you so much for your wonderful stories. It is so ironic that you write me this week as we have planned a reunion of some neighborhood George J. West and Mt. Pleasant friends. So if your friend wishes to attend, please have him contact me.
      I appreciate your Athony medal story. What treasured memories.
      I would love to get together if and when you get back East.
      For now, keep writing…hurry, I cannot waith to read the book.
      Auguri,
      Ed

  12. Richard E. Brodsky November 7, 2012 at 6:39 pm - Reply

    Dear Ed,

    I won the Anthony Medal my junior year at Classical High School, in 1963. You had to write an essay and I wrote about the United States Constitution and, in particular, the Necessary and Proper clause. Later, when I went to law school, I learned that my understanding of the clause five years before was woefully inadequate, or let’s just say plain wrong. Nevertheless, I was very proud of winning. All that I remember of the ceremony was a picture in the Classical Yearbook showing me walking on the stage wearing my dark suit, white shirt, tie and WHITE SOCKS. I stumbled on your site and find it very interesting. I am allowed to look at it because although I am not of Italian extraction, most of my friends at Classical were!!

    • Edward Iannuccilli November 12, 2012 at 4:41 pm - Reply

      Great story, Richard. I would love to see a picture of you in the white socks. Why not send it, and I will put it on the Blog: that is…if you can muster the courage. Send it to me at
      edrites@cox.net

  13. catherine Hill Canty June 2, 2013 at 8:28 pm - Reply

    I too was awarded the Anthony Medal in 9th grade (1958) while attending Nathan Bishop Jr. High School. After graduating from Classical High School, I departed for college and left the medal with my mom. Unfortunately it has been lost due to death in the family; I have made many attempts to get information to replace my medal but to no avail.

    • Edward Iannuccilli June 3, 2013 at 10:02 am - Reply

      Congratulations, Catharine… a wonderful honor. By chance, we found Diane’s aunt’s Anthony Medal and never knew she won it. I wish I could tell you how to reclaim yours because the Medal itself is quite nice. Two suggestions… call the Providence School Dept. They might help. And call the Providence Public Library. They always help. Good luck.
      Thanks for writing.

  14. Jerry Kritz October 16, 2013 at 3:50 pm - Reply

    I just mentioned the Sen. Anthony award to my secretary and being curious she went on line and found your blog. I won the medal as a 9th grader at Nathan Bishop in 1969. I too thought my medal was lost until my folks sold their home last year. Each child was sent a box of stuff that our parents kept on us. Sure enough, there amongst the old report cards and other childhood memorabilia was my Sen. Anthony Medal. My thanks to you and all of those who have posted their thought and memories. Winning the medal meant a great deal to me at the time and reading these comments has really made me smile.

  15. Bob /Norma Conroy May 18, 2015 at 11:26 pm - Reply

    Ed Great to see how many comments you received about this article. keep up the good work

    Let us know if you have any talks scheduled .

    Bob Norma Conroy

    • Ed May 19, 2015 at 11:35 am - Reply

      Thank you, Bob and Norma. Will do.

  16. Anthony Capraro May 27, 2015 at 2:39 am - Reply

    I know I have told you this several times in the past but I read your tales of a life long gone and I have the feeling you were looking over my shoulder. I too was awarded “THE” Anthony Medal (1949 – Bridgham Jr. High School). I found it again recently after my mother passed away. She had kept it all those years. To make junior high school more relived, I too played in the school band. As a student of the accordian there was no place for me and my instrument but I just had to get a uniform so I was assigned to play the TRIANGLE. I couldn’t be prouder. Keep the stories coming.

    • Ed May 27, 2015 at 5:37 pm - Reply

      So many stories of those days are similar, Anthony. I am so pleased that you enjoy mine and even more pleased that I have ‘jogged’ your memories. In my presentations, I implore people to write their story for, if not, they will be lost forever. Please write yours, Anthony, and if you wish, I will publish them on my blog.
      And… congratulations on winning the prestigious medal

  17. Pam (Rossi) Maisano May 29, 2015 at 1:40 am - Reply

    ,My best friend, Pam Monjeau, was awarded the Anthony Medal, I believe the year was 1962. She had it all – Intelligence and a great wit. We share wonderful memories of our days at West. I’m happy and proud to be able to say we are still friends to this day.

    • Ed May 29, 2015 at 2:20 am - Reply

      Thanks for your comment, Pam. Was not West such a great school. And aren’t you lucky, as am I to have long time friends from those days. Congrats to Pam. The Anthony Medal is a great honor and one to cherish.

  18. Rev Dr James D. Curran August 30, 2015 at 12:08 pm - Reply

    I was awarded the Anthony Medal at Central High School in Providence in 1972. I gave it to my mom for safe keeping. Unfortunately she has passed away, and i cant seem to locate it. I wondered if you had any idea on how I could replace it. It is very important to me, and I would like to give it to my grandaughter, who is an aspiring writer.
    Any assistance you can offer would be greatly appre iated.

    • Ed August 30, 2015 at 12:17 pm - Reply

      Rev. Dr., I have an idea. Give me a day or two to check it, and I will be in touch.

  19. Edward N. Clarke January 5, 2016 at 2:18 am - Reply

    Hi Ed………….I go way back in time. I received the Anthony Medal at Oliver Hazard Perry Jr. High School in 1940, if my memory serves me properly. I also received the Anthony Medal at Mt. Pleasant High School in late 1942 or early 1943. The title of my winning essay at that time concerned Hitler’s fiction of a master race, and how we would defeat that fiction. I entered the US Navy after graduation from high school, during World War II, and became a young officer. My overseas service took place in the Philippines and on an attack transport shortly after the end of the war. I have an engineering degree from Brown University, two master’s degrees in Applied Physics and Engineering Science from Harvard, and a PhD in Physics from Brown. My interest in science was generated by a wonderful chemistry teacher at Mt. Pleasant. I helped to create the early US semiconductor industry and later served as an academic leader at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. I am currently approaching age 91 and continue to give occasional invited lectures on various topics in science. My dad was the manager of the Hope Club on Benevolent Street near Brown for many years. He lived with his intelligence intact until age 98. My wonderful wife, Vivian, and I have been married for 66 years. We have 4 children, 12 grandchildren, and 11 great grandchildren. I and many of our family live in Massachusetts, but much of our family lives all the way from Mozambique, Africa to Arizona to Wisconsin to New Jersey and Virginia.

    • Ed January 5, 2016 at 1:18 pm - Reply

      I LOVE this remarkable story, Dr. Clarke, and would love to meet with you. I will be happy to come to you. My telephone # is 401-253-2825. My e-mail is edwritesri@gmail.com. With your permission, I will e-mail you.
      Thank you for this wonderful comment and for sharing your remarkable resume.

  20. Sandy Rainone January 10, 2016 at 10:37 pm - Reply

    My Dad, Carl, is now 98 years old and was a recipient of the Anthony Medal when graduating from George J. West Junior High School many years ago. To this day he is so proud; that medal means a great deal to him. As the oldest of nine children born to Italian immigrants, he worked very hard to learn as much as he could in school. Receiving that medal proved to him that he could be successful in life.

    When reminiscing, he wondered about the Anthony Medal and the person it celebrated. “Look it up!” and I did, finding your article. Dad listened and smiled as I read it to him. Imagine someone looking back at a different time in his life through a stranger’s memories. How special! Yes, he truly enjoyed it, but even more, it gave him the opportunity to relive an important event from his early years. Thank you for sharing this story and memories you have written about growing up Italian in RI. Please keep sharing!

    • Ed January 11, 2016 at 4:42 pm - Reply

      I am so pleased to have rekindled your Dad’s memories. Congratulations to him! The Medal was not so easy to get so many years ago. I would love to see a picture of your dad with his medal. Sandy, where is your dad? Has he read my books? Are you subscribed to my blog? Thank you for sharing this wonderful story.
      http://www.edwrites.com

  21. Sandy Rainone January 11, 2016 at 6:53 pm - Reply

    I believe there is a picture, I will ask him. My Dad lives with me in Coventry. I know he has one of your books – again I will check with him. No I have not subscribed to the blog yet, but will. I did meet you a few years back – you were presenting for the Italian Historical group – I think. My aunt, uncle and myself sat at your table – three your aunts were there with you. We began talking and they actually knew my mother’s family – or new of them when they lived on Wealth Avenue. My Mom’s maiden name was Muscente. Such a small world! I will find out about the picture and let you know. Take care, Sandy

    • Ed January 12, 2016 at 3:31 am - Reply

      Thanks, Sandy. I knew many Rainones. Thanks for he update. Would love to meet your dad one day.

  22. Eleanor Golato June 16, 2016 at 1:09 pm - Reply

    I am 83 years old and received my Senator Anthony Medal in 1948 when I graduated from Esek Hopkins
    Middle school. I am.very proud of my medal and enjoyed reading all the stories of so many recipients.
    My daughter was always fascinated by the medal and she has it in safe keeping.

    • Ed June 16, 2016 at 8:58 pm - Reply

      Such a wonderful honor. Congratulations!
      We have our aunt’s medal… a.treasure.
      Thank you for sharing.

  23. Marion Wrye December 5, 2016 at 3:08 pm - Reply

    Hi Ed,

    I was just researching the Anthony Medal and happened to find your blog. I won the Medal as a senior at Hope High School in 1964 for an essay on President Kennedy who had been assassinated seven months before my graduation.

    I have just retired from teaching high school English during which time I mentored many young writers who achieved their own honors and successes in writing. For my work as a writing teacher I was honored by the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards in 2013 as a Gold Portfolio Teacher for which they gave me a thousand dollar check. I now have the full understanding of the dedication, passion, and hard work of the teacher behind the student.

    So I look back now with great gratitude to those who mentored me. Angela McDermott, Joseph Tocco, Bill McKenna, Mr. Bucklin, and Judge Frank Caprio are the great lights who most inspired me. I will never forget these delightful people who are represented to me by my (just polished and shining) Anthony Medal.

    • Ed December 5, 2016 at 3:37 pm - Reply

      So nice to hear from you, Marion. You have shared so many wonderful memories and accomplishments of which you should feel so proud. Thank you.
      Keep shining that medal. It is a prize of honor indeed. What a start!

  24. Dave Robberson December 24, 2016 at 12:35 am - Reply

    I won the Medal in 1964. Nathaniel Greene Junior High. I still have it.

    • Ed December 24, 2016 at 12:28 pm - Reply

      Congratulations. Would love to hear your story.
      Merry Christmas, Dave

  25. Dorothy MacGregor Clark August 20, 2018 at 5:07 am - Reply

    Greetings from a Providence born-and-bred native now living in Pasadena, California! I found this blog while I was looking for some history of Senator Anthony, about whom I had no information. Thank you for this historical sketch.
    I was thrilled win an Anthony Medal for academic achievement and received it at graduation from 9th grade in Samuel. W. Bridgham Junior High school in 1951, a school that was in the Federal Hill area, where I grew up. (The school building has been nicely converted into a senior apartment facility.)

    In 1954, to my utter amazement and joy, I also won a second Anthony Medal at my graduation from Hope High School, Providence. I still have these two medals and am so grateful for the very high quality public school education I received in Providence. I continue to benefit from it for writing skills. THANK YOU, PROVIDENCE SCHOOL DISTRICT!

    • Ed August 20, 2018 at 4:57 pm - Reply

      Wonderful accomplishments, Dorothy. Thanks for sharing AND … thanks for subscribing to my blog. Have you any of my books?

Leave A Comment