Old One-Room Schoolhouses

Many of our ancestors may have attended an old-fashion one-room schoolhouse. Several grades would be in one room with one teacher. Individual desks or a row of desks for the students would have been used. There was a chalkboard on the wall, and some type of stove to keep youngsters warm on cold days. The one-room schoolhouse was usually in rural areas or small towns.

These types of schools were not just in the United States but also in Prussia, Norway, Sweden, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Spain.

Many such schools still existed well into the 1920s-the 30s and 1940s. The one-room school would eventually decline due to more children attending school.

These school simple buildings were also used by a community for church service, town meetings or community or group affairs.

America’s one-room schools still exist, although they’ve dwindled from 190,000 in 1919 to fewer than 400 today. The bulk of them is in isolated Western towns or very rural Southern regions.

One aspect overlooked, is that these wooden school buildings were many times painted red using cheap iron oxide protective pain just like was used for barns.

The schools typically taught “the three Rs” (reading, writing, and arithmetic), history, geography, and math. The McGuffey Reader was the favorite schoolroom text in the 19th century, surpassing the influence of Noah Webster’s blue-backed speller.

Tuition was not charged to the parents by rather the school was paid using local taxes, so all shared in the costs.

These types of schools were essential and did serve a great purpose.

Photo: The Salerno Colored One-Room School, constructed in 1937.

Related FamilyTree.com Blogs:

School Life

Back to School for Your Ancestors

Teacher’s Day

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