See inside old school classrooms from more than 100 years ago

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Old school classrooms from the turn of the century
Take a peek into the classrooms of the Victorian age! Most of these photographs featuring children of all ages were taken in Washington DC during 1899, though some are also from Boston and Alabama.
The new idea of teaching children: old school classrooms

As followed in the public schools of Washington – Photography and described by Frances Benjamin Johnston

The boys and girls of today could teach many things to the boys and girls of past generations, but what they could demonstrate most forcibly would be the vast difference between the schooling of today and that of a generation ago.

The old-fashioned school was a school was for the imparting of information, where books were the authorities, With the dawn of the new education, the idea of teaching by means of books became subordinate to the idea of education through living facts or things.

This new idea in education has swept in a gradual but mighty wave has over the country, and has recently been embodied in several hundred photographs made in the public schools of Washington, D.C., by Miss Frances Benjamin Johnston, for the Paris Exposition of 1900.

The United States Commissioner of Education has pronounced this series of pictures as “the best expression, to date, of the new idea in education.”

Science lessons: Expansion by heat

Vintage school classrooms in 1899 (14)


History class, Tuskegee Institute, Tuskegee, Alabama (1902)

History class, Tuskegee Institute, Tuskegee, Alabama 1902


7th grade school pupils in DC (1899)

7th Division grade school pupils in DC 1899


Kids walking with beanbags on their heads

These little boys and girls were learning poise, posture and balance

Children marching around the classroom, Washington, D.C


Mathematics class at Tuskegee Institute (1906)

Mathematics class at Tuskegee Institute, 1906

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Students in a chemistry class conducting an experiment

Students in a chemistry class conducting an experiment


Vintage classroom – Conversation lesson: The chair

Vintage classroom - Conversation lesson, subject - the chair 1899


Kids relaxing before singing

The children in the picture are being given an exercise in relaxation and stretching preparatory to a singing lesson.

Each child is permitted to relax the entire body, and encouraged to give freedom to every instinct. In this way, the body is stretched and the muscles readjusted toward the normal, so that the child is in a more favorable condition to express himself in singing.

Vintage school classrooms in 1899 (2)


Old-fashioned carpentry class at school

Washington, D.C., public schools - carpentry class


Mechanical drawing class at Tuskegee Institute, ca. 1902

Mechanical drawing class at Tuskegee Institute, ca. 1902

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High school biology lab for girls

Vintage school classrooms in 1899 (6)


Throwing bean bags

This illustration shows a class of children in one of the primary schools receiving a lesson in arithmetic combined with physical training.

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The children are throwing bean-bags into rings. Each child writes upon the blackboard the number of bags which he or she succeeds in throwing into each ring. When all the children have played, a prize is given to the one who is most successful in throwing the bags.

Vintage school classrooms in 1899 (8)


Elementary school classes on American Indian culture (1899)

Elementary school class on American Indian culture, Washington, D.C. 1899

Vintage school classrooms in 1899 (1)


Anatomy class with students & teacher at the blackboard

Vintage school classrooms in 1899 (10)

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Teaching girls hand-sewing and hemming

Vintage school classrooms in 1899 (12)

Vintage school classrooms in 1899 (9)


Advanced lessons on stitchery & on sewing machines

Vintage school classrooms in 1899 (7)

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Class portrait of kids in Washington DC (1899)

Vintage school classrooms in 1899 (15)

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Learning about flowers, and how to write in cursive

Vintage school classrooms in 1899 (16)

 

Vintage school classrooms in 1899 (13)


Learning about birds

From specimens of living birds and mounted ones, these children are being given a lesson on birds. The youngest child soon learns the difference between birds which fly and those which creep. The lessons are supplemented by the study of birds at the Zoo.

Vintage school classrooms in 1899 (4)


Food science class

These girls are learning the science underlying all cookery — as, for instance, the boiling of water and its temperature, the action of heat on albumen, as shown in the white of an egg, and the effect of cold water in extracting meat juices.

Vintage school classrooms in 1899 (3)


Cleaning up after cooking

These young girls are putting the school kitchen in order after their morning lesson, so it may be ready for the next cooking class.

Vintage school classrooms in 1899 (5)

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