Figure 1.--French school boys after World War I less commonly wore the over the shoulder book bags and more commonly carried portfolio type book bags.
French children seem to have had a lot of home work. We notice many of them with book bags or satchels. Before World War I they seem to have had the type worn over the shoulders, similar to the German styles. After the War, the portfolio ype carried with a handel seems to have been more common. We are not entirely sure just what French boys carried in these satchels. The French term is " cartable d'écolier " a child's school book bag. One says simply " Cartable ". Another reader tells us, "In French satchels are called either 'cartable' or 'sac à dos' (back bag or over shoulder bag) or 'sac d'école' or 'serviette', the latter being generally used for school hand bag for teenagers.
French children seem to have had a lot of home work. We notice many of them with book bags or satchels. A French reader tells us, "The French school program, especialy after the second year, was heavy and demanding. The children had school from Monday till Saturday, except for Thursday which [? had dispire that one or two hours lesson to learn this day]. Tursday was also day for catechism lessons. Each evening, after school we had half or one hour of homework, exersices and learning lessons."
Before World War I they seem to have had the type worn over the shoulders, similar to the German styles. After the War, the portfolio ype carried with a handel seems to have been more common. A Frenchbreader tells us that in the kate 1940s and eraly 50s , "My brother had both the back and hand bag model. My sister and I only had the hand model .
We are not entirely sure just what French boys carried in these satchels. In France dufring the inter-war period (when this [hotograph was taken) and in the immediate post World War II era, the school children don't bring any lunch or food to school. They studiedf from 8:30 am until 11: 45 am and then went home for lunch. Most mothers did not work. A few schools had cantines. Then they went back to school and classes continued from 1:00 pm until 4:30 pm. When they got home they had a " Gouter " meaning bread, jam, and a drink or something similar. Of course there have been a lot of changes in France since the 1950s. A reader tells us, "As far as the content of school bags is concerned, younger boys of primary levels did not have heavy things. Some home work necessating two-three exercise-books and related books. Maybe if so required by teacher take to school some newspapers or pictures or small objects for illustrating a lesson. Possibly a bit of chocolate or a decent reserve of marbles... For the pupils of secondary levels however, as all books, exercise-books, pencils etc were not supplied by school but had to be purchased and kept at home, there was obviously the necessity to carry to school everything needed for the various lessons of the day."
The French term is " cartable d'écolier " a child's school book bag. One says simply " Cartable ". Another reader tells us, "In French satchels are called either 'cartable' or 'sac à dos' (back bag or over shoulder bag) or 'sac d'école' or 'serviette', the latter being generally used for school hand bag for teenagers. kids.
Over shoulder bags were for younger primary school pupils and had several advantages, the first being to avoid distortion of vertebral column that occurs when carrying quite heavy satchel with same hand. Another advantage was to leave the kid with both arms free,
allowing the usual running - jumping -dancing etc of young children. Elder pupils (as from 12 ) with start of secondary school would have the hand satchel. The change from the back bag to the hand bag had about the same meaning as jumping from short pants to
long trousers: you are growing older.
As far as the content of school bags is co
A French reader tells us, "Since middle 1940 , I perfectly remember the school bags and even what in was inside. When I was school boy, I always had one. I normaly bring it to go
to Paris or to travel. Even during my small Hollydays I was obliged to study one hour each day not including others activities."
>An account of a French school boy's life in the 1890s recalls the consideration at home concerning a school bag: "There was much discussion at home over the choice of a sack for Paul's books. (Like all his
school-mates, he had to carry home his books every night.) Paul preferred the kind of sack that you hung over one shoulder by a strap and carried under the arm. But his mother objected; the boy would grow all one-sided, with one shoulder higher than the other. A military sack strapped on the back was preferable. When packed with care it would oblige its wearer to stand straight. That opinion carried the day. Paul was provided with a soldier's sack of black and white calfskin of the finest effect. He also had a black lacquer box for his pens, with a Japanese landscape painted on the lid. Perhaps it was a bit too fancy for so severe a school, but if any one objected he had only to say it was a gift. Paul felt very important and grown up to have so many new things all his own. A reader and a history book full of pictures and famous phrases in black letters of kings and great captains. A
geography with maps of all colors and France and its possessions standing out very big and tinted a vivid rose pink. And so many copybooks--for spelling and arithmetic and geography and composition and penmanship and dictations. Quite a heavy load for a boy of 7 to carry back and forth in the handsome calf-skin sack."
Least you think Paul's parents in the 1890s unreasonable, consider some current research. Some researchers now believe that the weight and size of book bags pose Related Chronolgy Pages in the Boys' Historical Web Site Related Style Pages in the Boys' Historical Web Site
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Created: February 6, 2003
Last updated: February 21, 2003
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