Individual U.S. School: Indianapolis Kindergarten No. 4 (Indiana)

Figure 1.--This is Indianapolis Kindergarten No. 4. The children would have been mostly 5 years old. Notice that the building behind them is not a public school, it looks more like a house. The Indianapolis Free Kindergarten Society had been supporting Kindergarten since 1882. It was an effort to assist the working poor which included a growing immigrant community. This portrait was taken just at the beginning of the school year (October 1901). Notice the wide variety of outfits. Many of the boys wear sailor suits. we only see one Fauntleroy suit.

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. The CAS believed that in districts with high immigrant populations the kindergartens were 'invaluable towards the Americanizing of the older members, as well as the children'. Eventually the kindergartens were absorbed by the Indianapolis Public School system and the Indianapolis Free Kindergarten and Children's Aid Society disbanded (1952).


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Created: 6:15 PM 10/16/2017
Last updated: 4:09 AM 10/17/2017