U.S. School Clothes: Individual Schools--The 1840s

Figure 1.--This is a rare daguerreotype of a unidentified school, we believe in the 1840s. The boys and girls were strictly separated for the portrait. Here we see the girls. They wear dresses, pinafores, and pantalettes.

We have been able to find few school portraits from the 1840s. Photographs were Dagurreotypes and these were mostly taken in studios. This meant that not many school portraits were made. There may be a few, but we suspect they were very rare. We would be very interested in any such images readers may know about. We note boys wearing jackets and long pants. Younger boys wore tunics. We see girls weating dresses with pinafores and pantalettes. This is an especially interesting period, because it is the decade in with Mark Twain's classic Tom Sawyer is set. Unfortunatelythere are not many photographic images.

Unidentiied Northeast School (1840s)

This rare daguerreotype shows a school group outside their school. We do not know where the school was located, but the date and wood frame suggests somewhere in the northeast to us. The dag is not dated, but was probablt taken in the 1840s. The 1850s is also possible. It does not look to be a small rural school. It fact it looks to be a substantial wood frame building. Note it is pintd white and not red. Girls are on the right, boys at the left, flanked by the two women teachers. There seem to be only two teachers for over 50 children. Although the windows are almost symmetrical, the camera seems to have been positioned more to the right, as the girls are larger and clearer than the leftmost boys. It is a plate daguerreotype in a decorated mat, nice full case with floral design. Early images like this are important additions to education history as the American public school system was only beginning to develop.

Dennis Children (1849)

This is not a school portrait per se, but it does show children at home doing math sums on a slate board. The girl wears adress and the boys seem to be wearing plaid tunics. We assume this is whatvthe children wore to school, although in thec1840s it is possible the children would hsve been schooled at home. We are not entirely sure where the children were from. We thought at first England, but have since come to think that it may be America. Perhaps readers mih\ght have some thoughts here.


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Created: 5:33 PM 2/14/2008
Last updated: 5:33 PM 2/14/2008