*** United States schools -- individual schools chronology 1900s

U.S. School Clothes: Individual Schools--The 1900s

Figure 1.--We have an image from the Cain School in 1902. We can not make out a lot of detail in the photograph. We do not that two of the younger boys are wearing large ruffled collars. We suspect that the children may have dressed up for the portrait.

We have just begun to assess the school photographs that we have collected from the 1900s. Most of the images we have collected show the children dressed up for schools. Mostly boys wear suits, commonly kneepants suits. Several younger boys wear sailor suits. Some of the younger boys also have ruffled collars added to their suits. Most of the suits seem to be kneepants suits worn with with black or other dark long stockings. The girls all wear dresses, some with pinafores. They also wear long stockings, although not all are black long stockings. What we are not sure about if the outfits shown were what the children wore to school normally or if they dressed up for the portrait. We note relatively few images of children wearing overalls to school in the 1900s, although we begin to see boys wearing overalls at some rural schools by the end of the decade. It was not until the 1910s, however, that they became common.


Unidentified Maryland School (1900)

Here is a wonderful photograph of the interior of a classroom with the children sitting at their desks. The boys in the bck row had to go stand with their teacher at the frontb of the class. The teacher has written the date on the blackboard for us-- Oct 11, 1900. Quite a few girls wear hirbws, but not the large ones we see in the 1910s. Many also wear pinafores. Sailor outfits seem populr, but mote fir the girls than boys. The boys and girls are all mixed up. Often they were separated. There's a stove in the center of the room and a portrait of George Washington on the wall. The school is not identified, but the photograph came out of Carroll County, Maryland estate. Overall size of this cabinet card is about 8" by 10". The actual image is about 4.75" by 7.9".

Unidentified School (about 1900)

This is a unidentified urban school, we believe in the Northwest. We are not entirely sure about the date. We think it may have been taken anout 1900, but the late 1890s is a ral possibility. All we have to go on is the fashions the children are wearing. It is clearly an urban school. We see what must be a substantial brick building in the background. The photograph shows one class at the school. We think it may be the freshman vlass at a high school. The finishing 8th grade class at a primary school is possible, but some f the students look lije thet might be 14 years old. The boys all wear double-breasted suits. One reaso we think the photograph was taken in the very ears 1900s or late 1890s is the diversity of neckwear. As you get unto the 1900s you begin to more and more boys wearing standrd neckties. The girls where both dresses and white blouses and skirts.

Urk School (1900)

The Urk School here is an example of a one-room school at the turn of the 20th century. We know that it was located in the Middle School District which we believe is located in upstate New York. A source identified the image here as being taken in 1900. This may, however, have been an estimate rather than a precise date. Here we have a photograph of both the inside and outside of the school.

Nesbitt School (about 1900)

We know very little about this school, but we believe it was located in upstate New York. Given the size of the class it was presumably a one-room country school house seen in the background. The photograph we have is undated, but we believe it was taken about 1900. It is especially interesting because the children are wearing headwear. Usually the children in these class photographs have taken off their caps and hats.

Calvert School (1900-05)

The Calvert School in Baltimore is probably the most famous elementary (primary) school in America. The school was a kindergarten through 8th grade coeducational school located in Baltimore, Maryland. Elementary schools for grades 1-8 were fairly standard t the turn of the 20th century in rural areas. Schools wih grades 1-6 were more standard in cities. The addotionl Kindergarten was a innovation. The school was founded in 1897. The school developed a homeschooling division which has made the curricvulum available to home schoolers around the country. Virgil Hillyer, a Harvard-trained scholar, became the Head Master of the School. He decided to sell the curriculum developed at the school through a Baltimore bookstore. The idea of home school was not as developed as it is now. People at the time had more confidence in the public schools. Many mothers, however, were interested in preparing their children for 1st grade. Kindergartens were just beginning to appear. Thus the Schools Kindergarden curriculum proved very popular. The popularity of the curriulum developed after advertising in the National Geographic magazine. The original cost of the curriulum was $5.00. This class portrait was taken at the Camvert School in Baltimore. It is indated, but from the clothing we can tell it was taken at the turn of the 20th century, probably around 1900-05. It has been colorized.


Indianapolis Kindergarten No. 4

Indiana was a leader in the free public school movement. The Indiana General Assembly became the first state to appropriate public monies for free public kindergartens (1901). It was not enough to fully fund a state-wide kindergarten program. Local tax funds were needed as well as public subscriotions. In Indianapolis, the capital and largest city in Indiana was aleaser in in kindergartens. The Indianapolis Benevolent Society as the city grew with the arrival of manybimmigrants, decided to focus its efforts on the care of poor children (1882). Many of the poor children were immigrant children. They changed their name to the Children's Aid Society (CAS) decided that the best way to confront poverty was through education at an early age. They opened the first trial Kindergarten (1882). They formed the Indianapolis Free Kindergarten Society and began establishing free kindergarten schools throughout Indianapolis. The CAS assisted with 33 free Kindergartens throughout Indianapolis. Kindergartens were established for immigrant children (including Italian, Slavonic, and Austro-Hungarian students) as well as programs for orphans and sick children. The CAS kindergartens were located in a variety of places including leased houses, community churches, and institutions such as the Children's Guardian Home. This is one of these Kindergartens. Notice that the building in the background does not look like a city public school.

St. Martin's School (1901)

Here we have a school from a German community, perhaps in the upper-Mid West. The school was opened in 1876. The 25th anniversity was held in July 1901. We believe it was a kind of reunion as well, although we suspect that most of the 1876 students were still living in the community. There is a script describing all of this. We think we see 'Jugend' (youth), 'St. Martin's S. Schule' (School). (We are not sure why there are two S's.) St. Martin was a popular saint in Germany. A German reader tells us, "Saint Martin is a saint of the Roman Catholic church. It is said that he split his mantle (jacket) by his sword and gave one part to a freezing beggar in about year 340 AD. In Germany, I don`t know about elsewhere in the world), Catholic St. Martin's Day is celebrated in November. Children stroll through villages singing old songs to honor and to remember St. Martin and asking for a gift." Both German Catholics and Protestants emigrated to America, the largest numbers were Protestants (mostly Lutherans called the Reformed Church in Germany). This seems to be a German Catholic community. The school is St. Martin's, Is appears to be a Catholic prochial school. There is a large building in the background. It does not look much like a school. There are no windos. But we think the script does specify Schule. The people infront of the school look to be students currently at the school in 1901 as well as grown up students who may have attended in the 1870s. The cabinet card portrait does not show much detail of the people and their clothing, apparently so as to give a good view of the school. We can see, however several boys with outfits showing Fauntleroy styling.

Meredith Village School (1901)

Here we see the Meredith village school house in 1901. The boys sitting in the front row would seem to be about 8th or 9th-graders, i.e., about 12 or 13 years old. The older boys standing at the back look like high school children, i.e., 16-17 years old. The boys are quite formally dressed for the photograph, probably more formally than they actually would have been for daily classes. They wear jackets and ties, and most seem to be wearing suits. The younger boys all wear knee pants with long black stockings and hightop shoes. At least one of the boys in the front row (the third from the right) seems to be wearing long underwear under his stockings (note the somewhat lumpy appearance). This was probably quite common at the time, especially in chilly New Hampshire. The children are grouped on the front steps of the local Meredith schoolhouse. Meredith is a still a fairly small town so the school house could have been only a one-room affair.

Tuder School (1901)

Here we see the Tuder Schoolm although the plaque is a little difficult to read. Unlike many schools, the name does not seem to come from the name of a town, but rather the Tuder family which was prominant in the county. That was rather unusual to name a school after a family, but Texas like other southern stastes was slow to develop a public school system. The school was located in northeastern Eastland County, Texas. This is a rural county with both ranches and oil fields. There is no town with that name, but this is a rural school so it might have been a very small place. We notice a Tudor Cemetary. While a rural school, it was not a real small school. We notice about 75 children. The photograph was taken on April 29, 1901. A reader thinks the children were dressed up for the occasion. Apparently they are their parents were old in advance that a photographer was coming. We see a few little boys wearing Fauntleroy ruffeled collars. It is a little difficult to tellm but it looks like only the younger boys were wearing knee pants. It is likely that some of the older boys would be wearing knee pants in a city school. Afew of the youngerest children are barefoot. Quite a few boys have hsts, some of the boys in front are wearing them. There is mo longer a Tuder School in the county.


Cain School (1902)

We are sure about the name of this school, but we believe that it is the Cain School. We know nothing about the school itself at this time, except where it is located. We do do know that it was located in Harrison County Missouri. We have an image from 1902. We can not make out a lot of detail in the photograph. We do not that two of the younger boys are wearing large ruffled collars. We suspect that the children may have dressed up for the portrait.

Mount Thorp School (1902)

We do not know of a town named Mount Thorp, but there is a mountain located in a wooded rural area east of Seattle in northwest Washington. The school was presumably located near the mountain which was we think a logging area. Today popular hiking trails run through the area. This cabinet card portrait shows the school which appears to have been constructed of mud bricks. Perhaps readers will have a better idea of that. The photograph was taken in 1902. We count about 30 children and two teachers. The school looks like it could accomodate more than one classroom. There are two doors. We are not sure about the purpose. The children look well dressed, not formally but with sturdy clothing. Some of the children wear heavy jackets. Several girls wear sailor dresses. Almost all of the boys wear long pants. This was at a time that knee pants even for older boys were nearly universal in cities and towns. This was the case throughiut the 1900s decade until about 1908. We see one boy wearing overalls. We think overalls became common in factories, mining. and logging areas before being worn by farmers. We don't see farm children extensively wearing them until the late-1900s decade.

Wood School (1902)

Here we sse a rural primary school. It is the Wood School in Bedford County, Tennessee. The schools usually taught children through grade 8. That would normally be children about 13 years old. Often at these schools there were older children because some of the boys took a little longer to get through the program because of demands on the farm. Some of the boys look like older teenagers. We have a portrait froim 1902. The boys came to school in shorts and pants. We only see a few blouses with with large collars, a popular style at the time. The boys wear long ants and knee pants. At a city school the children would have dressed more fashionably, most of the boys would have worn knee pants. Notice that none of the boys wear overalls.

Phoenix Indian School (1902)

The Phoenix Indian School was one of the Federal Government schools founded to serve Native American children. It was operated by the Department of the Interior Bureau of Indian Affairs. It was situated in Encanto Village located in the heart of Phoenix, Arizona. There was an 160 acres campus. The school was a boarding school for children, often taken from the reservations in contrary to the wishes of their parents. It was established as aan elementary (primary) school (1891). We think that meant hrades 1-8. In subsequwntly was changed to a high chool for secondary-age children (1935). The high school program was intended to focus on vocational education. As jobs dried up during the Depression, more attention was given to agiculture as the children tened to return to the resrvations. The Federal Government closed the school (1990). it was the only non-reservation BIA school in Arizona, but the BIA operated everal other non-reservation schools in several other cities. The purpose was to incourage assimilation by removing the children from the reservations and their parents. Eventually this and Native American education in general became a controversial issue.

Charles City High School (1902)

The boards held by the children in a 1902 portrait clearly identify the 7th grade class of Charles City High School. Unfortunately there are several towns in America named Charles City. We believe this was probably the Iowa Charles City, in part because there continues to be a Charles City High School in the Iowa town. It is sited on the location of a Winnebago Indian village for the identical reasions, the Cedar River as well as nearby timber lands--a rarity in Iowa. For a small town, Charles City has an impresive history--the birth place of the tractor. This was a new term, a combinatiion of the word traction and power Iowa. Production began about the same time that the portrait was taken. The company continued producing tractors until 1993, a Rust Belt victim as the U.S. Government failed to protect its manufacturers. The school is an impressive stone and brick building. The photograph highights the girls in the class, placing them in the front. They wear both dresses and blouses and skirts. Four girls wear sailor dresses. Two girl hold impressive hats. For some reason, many of he boys are holding their caps. All of the boys wear different styles of suits with lapel jackets--mostly high set lapels. Many of the boys wear ties. No sailor suits. Only bone boy has large collar. All of the boys we can see wear knee pants. Both the boys and girls wear long stockings. The 7th grde would mean most of the children were 12 years old. Generally high schools were 9-12th grade. As Charles City was a small town, the school included 7th and 8th graders.


Grafton School (1903)

One available photograph from the school in 1903 is composed mostly of girls, but there are a few younger boys. It may not have been a class group. It is marked a Christmas portrait, but HBC thinks this is highly unlikely as an outdoor portrait without coats woud have been a very chilly experience in Massachusetts. It looks to HBC more like a late spring portrait. The boys wear quite a variety of outfits including two sailor suits.

El Monte (California)

Teachers in the 19th century were mostly men, except for dame schools. As public education expanded, school districts sought to save money by hiring young, umarried women who were willing to work for less money than men. One they go married, hiwever, they had to resign. It was expected that married women should devote their attention to theor husbanfs, home keeping, and children. Here we have a snapshot of a teacher's class at the El Monte which she took after resigining in 1903. We see the boys wearing blouse, sailor suits, suits, and overalls. Many re barefoot. The girls weair dresses and hair bows. White dresses seem ppilar. Unlike the boys they wear long stockings and shoes.


Tumwater School (1904)

The Tumwater School was located in Thurston County, Washington. It was rural school. A 1904 school photograph shows the children sitting on the front porch of the wooden school building. The children wear a wide rabge of clothing. Most boys wear long pants. One boy wears kneepants. Several boys wear suits. One boy has a ruffled Fauntleroy collar. Anoyher boy wears kneepants overalls, a rather unusual style. Several boys are barefoot.


Emmerich Manual Technical High School (1905)

Here is the Emmerich Manual Technical High School Football Team, Indianapolis, Indiana, in 1905. The uniforms are quite different from modern football uniforms. Notice that there is no padding at all. The boys wear light-colored shorts (maybe white), and black sleeveless jerseys with the highschool initials on the chest, almost like basketball uniforms. Their coach stands in the back row wearing a white shirt, tie, and suit. Their captain is at the right wearing a long-sleeved black and white striped jersey. Black and white seem to be the school colors. I m not positive, but this appears to be the uniform that they used for football. Interestingly, for 1905, the team is racially integrated. Segregation at the time was not limited to the South. I'm not sure just what the system was in Indianapolis.

New York Public School (P.S.) 62 (about1905)

Most American public schools have names. New York and some other big cities just numbered their schools. New York did this by the different buroughs. We have very little information about the school. We know the number. P.S. 62, but we do not know which burough. The boys seem to belong to a boys' club organized at the school. It is fairly easy to estimate the date. It would have been some time in the 1900s, probably about 1905. We are not sure about the type of school. The children look to be about 13 years old. This could mean an 8-year elementary (primary) school. Or it could be a junior high school. The boys all wear knee pants suits. There was no required uniform nor do we think there this was a special dress up event. This is just how the boys dressed. we also seen some of the girls. All of the children wear long stockings.

Unidentified School (1905)

Here we have a class portrai taken at the end of the school year in a city, but we have no idea what city. We do know thanks to the slate that the portrait was taken (May 1905). We don't have the grade, only room number 6. There are quite a range of age groups here. We suspect that this was a small town, probably including rural areas. Often farm boys miss months on end and can take longer to finish school. That may be why some older boys are in this class and look to be about 11 years old, that would mean the 6th grade. The boys that age are all sitting together and wear knee pants suits with black long stockings. The older boys wear long pants suits. So perhaps the room number meant 6th grade. At the time primary school often meant an 8-year program. This was particularly true of rural or smll town schools attended by rural children. Towns with secondary schools might have 6 year primaries, called elementarty schools. We see the teacher. There is a man in the background, perhaps the principal. We don't see boys wearing overalls which is often a signal of rural students, although we see tend to see overalls mostly later in the decade. Notice that the girls are not weaing hairbows. They would become more common in the 1910s.

Unidentified School (about 1905)

All we know about this school is what we can deduce from the photograph. There is no accompnying information. We can tell by the clothing that the photograph was taken in the 1900s decade, probably about 1905, but not much later. We do not know where the school was located, but we suspect somewhere in the northeast. The children are very well dressed, better dressed than the average public school, but the mixed gender means that it was probably not a private school. The children seem to be about the same age which means that this was probably a class and not the entire school. This was a little surprisinmg given that the school in the background soes not seem to be a large school. It is not a small one or two room school, but not look like a school with many classes this size. The girls wear dresses. The boys mostly wear standard suits. Some boys wear blouses and several wear sailor suits. They are mostly wearing knee pants which help to date the image because about 1908, American boys began wearing knickers. The children look to be anout 10-11 years old which would mean about the 5th grade.

Scroggin School (1905?)

Here we have a photograph from the Scroggin School which looks to be a rural school located in Logan Co. Illinois. The source believes that the photograph was taken about 1905. This is possible, but we believe that it may have been taken a few years later. The children are wearing different style clothing. Some boys wear blouses and knee pants. Others wear overalls. We are trying to determine just when overalls became standard for school wear in rural aeres. Other images we have found show overalls being worn beginning about 1908-09 which is why we are unsure about the date here. If it rally was taken in 1905, it is the earliest image we have archived showing overalls being commonly worn. You can see from the clothing here that this was a transitional period. With some children wearing blouses and kneepants common in the 1900s and others wearing overalls common in the 1910s. Most of the boys are barefoot, but the girls wear long stocings and shoes. One boy seems to have hurt his foot and has wrapped it in a cloth.

Mount Zion School (1905-10)

The Mount Zion School was a small one-room school in the Florida panhandle. It was attended mostly by Dominicker children. The Dominickers were one of several small multi-racial isolates in the Southeastern United states. We have a photograph from about 1905-10. Florida schools were segegrated at the time. So we assume that the school would have been part of the black system.

Unidentified High School (about 1905)

This cabinet card portrait has no accompnying information. It looks to us like a high school in a small town. We are not entirely sure, but it is the most likely guess. At the time high schools cold be quite small. At the turn of the century, it was quite an achievement to go to school. Most children finished their education in primary school some where beteen 6th and 8th grade. The style of the cabinet crd and the clothes suggests the mid-1900s to us. We can see the classic stone building behind, complete with ivy. The students would have been about 14-18 years of age. A few of the boys in front look a little younger, but like the older children in an elementary school. Of course kids at the turn of the century look a little younger than modern children.

Unidentified Primary School (about 1905)

This cabinet card portrait also has no accompnying information. It looks to us like a public primary school, but we are not sure just where, other than it is probably not a big city. We might guess the South, but we are not at all sure, but it is the most likely guess. The clothing strongly suggests the 1900s decade as does the mount. We woild guess it was takenb about 1905, but not much alter. Unfortyunately many of the new mounts after the turn of the century do not have the studio and city informatioin that was standard in the 19th century. We generally choose schools for the individual school section when wevhave the name of the vsvhool mor a denfinite date. This school image is especially interesting because of the diversity of the clothing. We see boys dressed in smart suits and ties with shoes. And along side or other boys just wrearing blouses and suspenders are barefoot. The number of boys with suspenders is notable. We have nice clear images of many major 1900s styles. The school itself can be see in the backround. It is a good sized school as we see a class here with over 30 children and there would have been at least 6 or 8 such classes. which suggests a school of at least about 180 children. This `particular school looks like a 2nd grade glass. We want to archive these many images in the 1900s Amnerican school garments section and needed a page for the school to base it on. Unfortunateky we know nothing about the school other that which can be gleaned from the image.

Bandon School (about 1905)

This is an cabinet card portrait of a wonderfully well lit primary school classroom. The banner by the door reads 'Bandon School - Step by step'. We believe this is from Bandon, Oregon but we cannot be sure. There are a number of Brandon schools and there is no studio information. The portrait is undated, but the card mount and children's clothes suggest the 1900s, probably the early- or mid-1900s. That may be a portait of President Roosevelt above the chalk board. The boys look to be wearing knee pants suits and the the girls dresses. This would have been a public school, but it seems a prosperous community. All the children have dark long stockings. The children seem to be about 11-12 yeras old. That would be the oldest chiidren in a 6-year elementary school, but in the 1900s there were many 8 year elementary schools. We get a good look at the desks and seat arrangements. This was almost universal at the time, all the desks facing forward toward the teacher's desk. These desks could nit be easily moved as they were connected to the desk behind. We can see the teacher at the back. Lady teachers were more common in America than in most other countries at the time.

Racine College (1905-10)

The Protestant Episcopal Church established a college at Racine, Wisconsin in 1852--Racine College. There was a grammar school associated with the College and may have even preceeded it. Racine College functioned as a college in the sence of a small university for 40 years in the 19th century. It subsequently became a preparatory school with both secondary and older primary-age boys--the Racine College Grammar School. We are not sure about the nature of the original grammar school, but by the turn-of-the 20th century it was not a grammar school in the normal sence that the term is used in America--that of a primary school. The Racine school was more like a British grammar school in the sence of a secondary, but with entry at about 11-12 years of age. I am noyt sure what age the Racine College Grammar School accepted, but we see quite young boys as well as younger teenagers. ike the College, the Grammar School was a boarding school. We note boys wearing military uniforms in the early 1900s, but we also see them wearing suits so we are not sure what the dress code was. This prep school finally evolved into a military school. It closed in 19??. The buildings are now used as a community center.


Vinyard Haven? (1906)

This photo is dated 1906. The precise location of the school on Martha's Vineyard is uncertain. It may be Vineyard Haven. The boys wear knee pants with black long stockings. Notice that several boys are wearing military-style naval jackets, double breasted with what look like brass buttons, with matching knee pants. This appears to have been a popular style for gradeschool-age boys. These children are probably in the second or third grade and would probably be about 8 years old. A girl (perhaps from the class) has used the photograph as a Christmas card at some later point in her life and has written on the photo, "Merry Xmas. To find the best girl in town."


Vinyard Haven (1907)

This is a primary school class picture taken in 1907 at Vineyard Haven. The boys all wear knee pants with long stockings. Most of the stockings are the standard black color, but one boy wears lighter colored stockings (probably dark tan). Notice the Eton collars.

Unidentified Urban School (1907)

Unfortunately we do not know the name of this school or where it was located. We do know when this wonderful class portrait was taken--May 1907. It looks to have been taken right outside the school building, but facing down the street. It is a nice clear, but rather informal portrait of the boys and girls. For some reason they have hand held flags. We are not sure why. The children seem rather dressed up for the portrait, but this may be just normal schoolwear for the time. The boys all wear knee pants or knickers suits, its a little difficult to tell. The boys all look to be wearing ties. with ties. The girls wear a variety of dresses, most with high collars. All the children seem to be black long stockings. The hair is interesting. Many of the girls wear hair bows. Note that several bows have center parts and girls side parts, a reversal of the more common part conventions.

Lafayette School (1907)

This photo shows a schoolboy in his classroom. It is an interesting photiograph because most images of rural schools were taken outside the school. The unidentified boy is reading aloud in front of the class. The children probably took turns reading. He looks to be about 10-years old. He is standing near the teacher's table, where we can see the the classic school bell, some books, and a cheerful bunch of flowers which suggests the late spring, probably June. The photo was taken at Lafayette School, in Tompkins County, New York. It looks to be a small rural school, but it is difficult to tell. The photograph was taken inside the school room during 1907. On the wall hangs a picture of President Theodore Roosevelt which was fairly common. It helps to date the photograoh even if we didn't have a date. The boy is quite well clothed. He is wearing a dark knee pants suit, but without a tie. Hnd his bare feet don't give any appearance of poverty. Going barefoot was very common seasonally at the time. It is near the end of the year and the temperature has warming up, explaining the flowers.

Lebanon School (1907-08)

We are not sure about the name of the school here. We know the school was located in Lebanon, a small village in southeastern Red Willow County, Nebraska. We suspect that the school was called the Lebanon School. Here we have a school photo taken in Lebanon in 1907 or 1908. It is interesting because of the great hats the children are wearing. Another interesting observation is that only two boys are wearing overalls, and one has covered them with a jacket. By the 1910s we see many American children wearing overalls to school. It seems that this was about the time that overalls began to be worn to school in rural America.


Bryant Station School (about 1908)

We have a photograph of the Bryant Station School during the 1900s decade. Notice the fanncy Fauntleroy blouses, but only the youngest boys wearing them. Unfortunately the portrait is not dated. It was surely taken around the turn-of-the 20th century, probably after 1905. We do not think it was taken in the 1890s. One inducator is that two boys wear overalls. That was not very common in the 1900s, except at the end of the decade, but became virtually standard un the 1910s. Thus we susopect the opiortrait was taken about 1908. The school was located at Bryant Station in Maury County, Tennessee near the line with Marshall County. It was a typical one room school. These schools were very common in Tennessee and other rural areas at the turn-of-the 20th century. The teacher was Miss Haynes of Lewisburg. Many of the teachers in these one-room schools were young, unmairred women. The younger bys wear fancy blouses and knee pants. One boy wears a Fauntlroy blouse. Only one boy wears a large floppy bow. A younger boy wears a plain dress. We are not sure why such a young boy was at school. It looks to us as if the portrait was scheduled and the children dressed up for the occassion. Perhaps he was a brother of one of the older children who tagged along for the day.

Saltillo Primary School (1908)

Here we have an image from the Saltillo Primary School located in Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania. That is between Altoona and Harrisburg. The portrait is from the 1908-09 school year. The photograph is not as clear as we would like, but we can make out some of the clothing styles. The boys are dressed up as was common at the time. The boys wear a variety of jackets. A few of the younger boys wear tunic suits. At least one boy wears a sailor suit. One girl wears a sailor dress. Several girls wear pinafores. Hairbows wre popular with the children

Indianoplis Public School No. 29 (1908)

Many public primary-level schools were known by their numbers. For many years they were not named. We know nothing about the school, but it was clearly a substantial school. Here we see a graduating class of 8th-graders. This is Public School 29 in Indianapolis (1908). At the time most American children finished school in the 8th grade. Only sme of the children went on to high school, although a larger proportion then in Europe. Notice the ribbons that the students wear in their lapels, the sign that they are graduating. The boys wear dark suits with white shirts and ties, knee pants, and long black stockings. For some reason these 8th-graders look slightly older than the children in the 1907 class at a different school. We suspect that this schools was located in a little better neighborhood.

Monticello School (1908)

We believe this is the Monticello School. We know it is an elementary school in Monticello, the county seat of Jasper County, Georgia. The community was named after Thomas Jefferson's home in Virginia. The county was named for Revolutionary War officer, Sgt. William Jasper. An image from the school in 1908-09 shows the boys wearing knickers or knee pants. Almost all are coming to school barefoot. Here going barefoot does not seem to be a matter of poverty because the boys are otherwise quite well clothed (some even wear suits and ties). The photograph is the 4th grade class, in 1908-09. Notice how the boy wearing shoes has been placed in the middle of the group. The girls are all in the back, most outfitted in white dresses.

Craley Secondary School (1908)

Here we hve a class portrait at the Craley Secondary School in 1908. It was located in Wison, York Pennsylvania. We believe this means York Country in southeasten Pennslyvania, in between the Civil War Antitem and Gettysburg battlefields. We are not sure what Wilson means, presumably a small town, but we cannot find Wilson in York County. We are not sure why it is called a scondary school and not a high school. The postcard back postcard shows a class of younger students, we would guess 14-year olds which would nean 9th graders. There is a board placed in front of the boys, but it does not tell us anything but what is written on the back, the name of the principal, L.D. Hains, and the name of the school. The inscription on the back tells us that the portrait was taken in November 1908. There are 22 students and their teacher who may be the principal. The boys wear suit jackets, some with overalls which were just beginning to appear in schools. The boys wear knee pants and long stockings. Notice that we do not yet see knickers. The only long pants we see are overalls. This suggests a rural area of the county. The girls wear dresses or blouses and skirts, but not pinafores, Several have hair bows. The footwear is lace-up high tops, an indicator of the 1900s.

Lovington School (1908)

The mame of this school is not identified, but we know it was located in Lovington, Illimois. This is a town ib centrl Illinois, meaning that it was a farming community. Lovinmgton was a small town of only about a 1,000 residebnts. Lovington was still groeing t the time this photoigrapoh was taken, but vwsas adversely affected by the farm deopession of the 920s thtbpreceeded the Great Depression of the 1930s. Given that Lovingtom was sych a mall town, the school was surely was called the Lovington School. It was am elementry (orimary) school and substantial brick building. The photograph we have is a postcard-back class portrait taken in 1908. It looks like an 8th or 7th-grade class posed on the front steps of the school with the lady teacher (Bertha Lechner) is placed in the center of the class. The names of the children and teacher were written on the back of the card.. The boys mostly wear knee pants and black long stockings, but unusually we see two of the boys with some kind of leggings. We are not sure what that was all about. It does not seem a particularly cold day. One or two boys wear knickers. This is precisely the time that knickers for some reason began to replace knee pants in the Unitd States. One boy wears long pants. The girls wear a mix of dresses or blouses and skirts, also with black long stockings. Notice that hair bows are not nearly as common as they would become in the 1910s. Also interesting is that a high school (secondary school) was opened in Lovoimgton the yeraftr this potrait ws taken (1909). Such small high schools were not uncommon in America at the time. This is interesting because a town of 1,000 people would not have had a secondary school in Europe. America at the time was expanding its secondary school system far beyond the level of that in Europe.

Hearst Grammar School (about 1908)

This school was the Hearst Grammar school. We are not sure where it was located, but New York seems a possibility. The portrait is the 7th grade B class. Grammar school in America meant primary school. (They were also called elementary or grade schools. Most were six grades, but a few had 7th and 8th grade as well. Many of these children would finish their education with the 8th grade. A minority went on to high school for the 9th-12th grades. There were no tests involved, it was entirely a matter of whether the child needed to bring in an income to help support the family. The boys mostly wear knee pants or knickers suits with black long stockings. Notice the one boy wearing long pants does not wear a suit. The girls mostly wear white or light-colored dresses. One girl wears a sailor dress.

Blackhawk County School No. 8 (about 1908)

This is a wonderful example of a rural one-foom school. It even has the classic shape with a bell at the top that the teacher can ring from down below. All we know for sure is that it was School No. 8. But as the photographer was in Waterloo, Iowa, we assume that it was School No.8 in Blackhawk County. There are 11 children who mostly look to be younger children and their teacher is posing with them. The photograph is not dated. Nor do we know when the school was built. Over the door, however, it tells us that it was painted in 1898. It looks like it could use a repainting. The postcard-back AZO stamp box (four triangles up) and children's clothes suggest that the photograph was taken about 1908. (Note here we are using our knowledge of clothing styles and postcards to asess the date, so this page should not be used as a defimitive statement of 1908 styles.) Two of the boys are dressed up for the portrait. Notice the boys' knee pants and theone boy wearing overalls. we see knickers and overalls appearing about the same time--about 1908. The girls wear pinafores. And everyone is wearing long stockings. And over to the right you can see the flat, treeless landscape for which Iowa and the Great Plains are so well known.

Boys' Industrial School (Late-1900s)

This photo postcard shows the brass marching band from the Boy�s Industrial School. Unforttunately we dob't know where the school was located, but we would say the Mid-West. Posed in front of the brick schoolhouse are; the band leader, a young child and 3 rows of teen band members holding their instruments. The AZO card is undated, but the stamp box indicated it was taken sonetime from 1904-17. We would guess some time in the 1900s. rather than the 10s. It is postally unused but does have writing on the backside. It states: �Another �smut� exhibition. Wouldn�t know me, would you!� I'm not too sure what the boy meant. Nor I am entirely sure what an industrial school was. This may have meant a school that focused on manual arts rather than academics. It may have meant a reform school, I'm not yet sure.

Unidentified City School (about 1908)

Here we have a cabinet card portrait of a city school. Weare not sure about the type od school. The studenys could be 8th graders in an 8-year promary or 9th graders at a junior high school. They look to us to be about 13-14 years old. All we know or sure about the school is that it was built in 1897 which helps to date it. The cabinet card mount sugggests it was taken in the late-1900s or the early-10s. We think it was taken about 1908 because this as whem knickers began replacing knee pants suits. By 1910 we mostly see knickers. The situation was mixed (1908-09). An here it looks like the boy on the left is wearing knee pants and the boy on the right knickers, although it is a little difficult to be sure. If both boys are wearing knee pants than it would be earlier in the 1900s. If they are both wering knickers, the 1910s is more likely. Notice the girls middly blouses and long skirts. Alsp notice that less half of the girls have hairbows.


We have quite a few 1909 images to provide an excellent idea about popular clothing styles in 1909. Girls mostly wore dresses to school By the end of the decade we see sweaters and hairbows becoming popular. We see varied headwear in thev900s decade, but by 1909 we increasingly see flat caps being sorn by school age boys. City boys wore suits to school. Neckwear varies, but the tie was becoming increasingly common. By the end of the decade we see sweaters. In rural areas, overalls began to appear in kage numbers. Until 1908-09, American boys mostly wore knee pants suits. Amd we still see knee pants in 1909, mostly with younger boys and smaller towns. Knee pants or jnickers were stndard for boys, even yonger teens. By 1909 we begin to see more long pants, especilly in the secondary schools. This all depenbded on the family. Boys in the South still commomly ent bto school barefoot. Very quickly we see the transition to knickers. We do not know who are what was responsible for this change. We are surprised the transition occurred so rapidly. but by 1910, knickers were becoming standard throughout the country.

1900s Schoolwear Trends

In addition to the information on individual schools presented above, HBC-SU has also developed information on 1900s schoolwear trends which offers addirinal information on fashion trends during the decade.


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Created: 9:36 PM 7/19/2005
Last updated: 9:27 AM 3/28/2023