College Yearbook, 1925

Virginia Carten was born on March 23rd, 1903 in Beverly, Massachusetts. Her family moved shortly thereafter to Peabody where they had a dairy and cattle farm – known as the Carten Farm.

Carten was a talented artist and she attended Mass College of Art and Design, graduating in 1925. She worked as a commercial fashion artist for Jordan Marsh and R.H. White. She lived both in Boston and in Peabody.

During World War II, she joined the Women’s Auxiliary Army Corp (WAAC). She travelled around the world photographing the troops. She also had a series of articles published in The Boston Daily Globe detailing her experience and encouraging other women to join the WAACs.

Virginia Carten, May 1944, Photographer for the Air Force
The Boston Daily Globe,
February 8, 1943
The Boston Daily Globe,
February 9, 1943

Upon Virginia Carten’s return home, she continued her career as a commercial illustrator. Her drawings for The Boston Globe’s Cook Book for Brides displayed her wry sense of humor and talent.

The Boston Globe Cook Book for Brides, Edited by Nell Giles Ahern, Sketches by Virginia Carten, 1963
The Boston Globe’s Chicken Cook Book, Edited by Nell Giles Ahern, Drawings by Virginia Carten, 1954

She also illustrated children’s books including Busy Bodies: Busy ABCsWe went to the doctor and What’s in the dark?

We went to the doctor by Carl Memling, Illustrated by Virginia Carten, 1955
Busy Bodies: The Busy ABCs, by Clare Bowman, Illustrated by Virginia Carten, 1959

She lived in Marblehead for most of her adult life. She died on December 24, 1986, and the Virginia A. Carten Gallery was created at the Marblehead Public Library in her memory.