The Millicent Library
Longtime Fairhaven educator Mabel Hoyle Knipe (1906-1997) taught in the town for 46 years. From 1931 through her retirement in 1974, Mabel taught at Fairhaven High School, where she directed 21 school plays, initiated the school newspaper, and became English department head. In her retirement, Mabel began the Fairhaven Star Research Project at the Millicent Library, repairing and indexing back issues of the weekly town newspaper, the Fairhaven Star.
Longtime Fairhaven educator Mabel Hoyle Knipe (1906-1997) was born in Manchester, England on September 18, 1906, the daughter of Roland and Clara (Gill) Hoyle. She emigrated to the United States with her parents in 1912 and lived in Haverhill, MA. Mabel graduated from Haverhill High School in 1924. In 1928, she received a B.A. from Tufts University, where she was a member of Phi Beta Kappa honor society. Mabel earned an M.A. from Boston University in 1936. She married Paul Knipe and the couple took up residence at 37 Oxford Street in Fairhaven.
Mabel’s entire 46-year teaching career was in Fairhaven, a town she fell in love with. She began teaching at Rogers Elementary School in 1928. From 1931 through her retirement in 1974, Mabel taught at Fairhaven High School, where she became head of the English department in 1946. She directed 21 plays and initiated the school’s newspaper, The Spray. Mabel made a remarkable impression on both students and faculty throughout those years. Her passion for learning and commitment to quality had a lasting influence even on those who did not have her as a teacher. Mabel was lauded for her many literary and educational endeavors. In 1975, the main auditorium of the original Fairhaven High School was named the Mabel Hoyle Knipe Auditorium.
In her retirement, Mabel continued to share her passion for the history of her beloved town. She gathered some associates and began the Fairhaven Star Research Project at the Millicent Library. This project involved repairing and indexing back issues of the weekly town newspaper, the Fairhaven Star, published from 1879 through 1967. Mabel described the Star as having “letters motivated by avarice, political aspiration, sarcasm, patriotism, testiness, resentment and joy … providing an invaluable record of the thinking and the emotional convolutions of scores of Fairhavenites.” The digital archive of the Fairhaven Star was made possible in 2016 by the Community Preservation Act and the Millicent Library.
Mabel wrote several research booklets and pamphlets on Fairhaven history, notably Some Fairhaven Women in 1985. This booklet highlighted about 30 historical women, their exploits and legacies. The project was dedicated to Rita Steele, then librarian at the Millicent Library, whom Mabel referred to as “One of the Best of Them.”
Mabel died at her home on December 28, 1997, after a lengthy illness and was buried in Riverside Cemetery in Fairhaven. In 1998, the Mabel Knipe Scholarship Fund was established from her estate.
- Charpentier, Debra, Millicent Library Archivist
- “Obituaries.” SouthCoast Today, 31 Dec. 1997, https://www.southcoasttoday.com/article/19971231/news03/312319914.