** United States -- individual schools chronology 1880s

U.S. School Clothes: Individual Schools--The 1880s

Figure 1.-- Here we have a cabinent card portrit of a school class. The school is unidentified, but we believe it is a private school. We know it was located in or near Colfax, Illinois. The photographer was J.L. Shawl. The portrait is undated, but the mount and boys' clothes suggest the late-1880s to us. The early-90s is possible, but the late-80s seems more likely. It looks like a class group pictured with their teacher. Notice that there is a mix of knee pants and long pants and that we only see hats rather than caps.

We begin to see many more school portraits in the 1880s but the number sees still relatiely limited. We are not entirely sure why this did not occur earlier. We suspet that the tehhnology of operating outside studios was still fairly compliated This made the portraits still fairly expensive. Portraits seem more common at private schools than public schools. This presumably reflects the fact that the school portrait was still a fairly new feature and boys at private schools were more avle to pay for it. We see boys wearing a range of outfits, but mostly suits. Knee pants were becoming more common, but not yet commonly worn by older boys. Girls all wore dresses, often wih a pinafore.

Unidentified Buffalo School (early-1880s)

Here we have an a class at an unidentified Buffalo, New York school. It is a very large class of over about 45 children. They look like 2nd graders, meaning about 7 years old. Their tightly corseted teacher stands at the side. They are posed in front of their substantial brick school. They hold two boards which no doubt tell us all about the school, only unfortunately we can't make out the writing. Based on the clothing , it looks like the early-1880s just before the onset of the Fauntleroy Craze which began in 1885. The boys all wear suits, both collar-buttoning and cut-away jackets. Several boys have detachable collars. Many boys wear boys, but none have the huge floppy bows so popular in the Fauntleroy era. Because of the jacket we don't see much of the blouses that they are wearing. The girls wear dresses. We don't see any girls wearing blouses and skirts, but several girls wear pinafores. The cabinet card is unusuall as not only does the image cover the enite card but it is 4.25 X 7.25 in, larger than the standard cabiet card. There is no studio information on the front, but a stamp on the back identifies the studio as Waterman & Co. in Buffalo. Copies cost $0.25.

North School (early-1880s)

We are not entirely sure about the name of the school, but we think it is the North School. We are sure that it was school near Seattle. It looks to be in the country, but Seattle was not a large city in the late-19th century. The photograph is not dated, but it looks to us like the esrly-1880s, even the 70s. Outdoor school photographs at the time were not common so we are not sure about the date. The clothes look like the early-80s to us, but we welcome reader assessments. Notice the rounded crown hats and lumberjack caps. We do not see any of the pore modern styles like peaked and flat caps. And note the long pants most of the boys wear. Many of the girls wear pinafores. This a little unusual. Normally the childten are lined up neatly in front of the school. The school marm looks to be standing to the right of the door. There is a lot of children for one teacher, but we don't see any other.

Unidentified School (early-1880s)

Here we have a school portrait without any identufying information. It is a kind of cabinet card, but there is no studio imprint or writing on the back. The clothing I think fairly certainly suggests that this class portrait was taken in the 1870s or 80s. We say that because many of the boys are wearing long knee panrs or even long trousers. CDVs were more common in the 60s and knee-length knee pants in the 90s. Also we do not see any Fauntleroy-like collars or bows. The boys seem to hve small collars anmostly suit jackets with high lapels. Thus the early-80s seems most likely. Boys in rural areas might wear long pants or older styled knee pants, but this we think is clearly a school, perhaps even a private school, in a fashionable city. We think it may be a private schools because the boys are dressed so smartly. While we think this is the early-80s. We load these unidentified images in part because we welcome reader comments to help date them.

Lancaster School (early-1880s)

This cabinet card portrait shows an unidentified group of boys and girls about 10-11 years old. All we know for sure is that the portrait was taken in or near Lancaster, NewHampshire. We fo not know the name of the school, but suspect it was called the Lancaster chool. We suspect that it was taken in the town. It looks like a school group, probably a clss group. They are probably standing in front of their school. but ee think the older children in the school. Perhaps not the oldest children as we suppect tht the school went up to the 8th grade which would be children 13-14 years of age. Such a large class group suggests a town rather than a rural school. There are about 35 children, the girld outnumber the boys two to one. This suggests many boys drpped out before reaching the upper grades. We suspect that they dressed up for the occasion because they were told the photgrapher was coming. The boys wear suits, but we do not see ties. Most of the jackets are collar, buttoning styles. One boy has a crisp Eton collar The boys wear hats not caps. We see amix of knee pants and long pants. There is no hint of Fauntleroy styling which suggests the early-80s. The boys are too old for actual Funtleroy suits, but boys this age diring the Dauntleroy era beginning in 1885 did often wear Fauntleroy items like ruffled collas and floppy bows. The girls seem more fashionanly dressed than the boys. The girls all look to be wearing their best dresses. There are no pinafores. And we do not see any hairbows.

Holderness School (1882)

The Holderness School was founded in 1879. The photographs from the 1880s show the schools at an early point of its operations and the boys seen in the images were some of the first boys to attend the school. The photograph here shows shows an early group of Holderness teenage boys gathered in their dormitory before going to bed. They all wear white nightshirts that come down almost to their ankles. The date of the photograph is a bit uncertain but a history of the early years of the school places it about 1882. Notice that the nightshirts have openings in front down to about waist level but are worn buttoned all the way up to the neck, probably because New Hampshire winters were cold and because there may have been only minimal heat in the sleeping quarters.

Onarga School (1882)

This school photograph was identified as "1st Intermediate" from Onarga, Illinois. We know nothing about the town at this time, but notice the substantial red brick school building in the background. We are not sure what the name of the school was, but as the photograph was taken in Onarga, we are guessing that the name of the school was the Onarga School. The photograph was taken about 1882. The photograph is of interest for several reasons.

Geneva College (1880s)

This photograph was undated, but we believe was taken in 1889. It was taken at Geneva College, a Phrespetryian school north of Pittsburgh. The boys were mostly children of the teaching staff. The younger boys wear knee pants, single breasted suits, and long black stockings.

Skinner School (1885)

The Skinner School was located in rural Illinois, perhaps rural Illinois. The photograph was taken in 1885. Unfortunately the image is not very high quality, but it does show the kind of small school many children atended in rural areas. Note that the boys wear long pants. Boys in an urban school in the 1880s would have more likely worn knee pants.

Notre Dame School (1885)

The French were the first Europeans to reach what is now Chippewa Falls. French explorer Pierre-Charles Le Sueur discovered the Chippewa Spring near the river (1700). Chippewa Falls is a city located along the Chippewa River in Chippewa County in central Wisconsin. It was incorporated as a city (1869). Chippewa is drived froim the Ojibwa Native Americans. Chippewa is an alternative English pronunciation of Ojibwa. Chippewa Falls began as a lumber town that became a railroad town. The originl railroad line of the West Wisconsin Railway went through Eau Claire, about 10 miles to the south (1870s). Thaddeus C. Pound founded the Chippewa Springs Health Club (1887). The springs were developed to bottle water which continues today. Many Germans emigrated to isconsin, including Catholic Germans. his began before the Civil War (1861-65). They were one of the few Catholic groups that did not settle primarily in growing cities. Because of the substantial Catholic school we see parochial schools opening in Wisconsin. The first Catholic school in the area was the Notre Dame School. It was supported by the Notre Dame Church founded (1851). Father Smidink built the first small school which was gradually expanded. We note a substantial brick building (1885). Unlike the public schools, the genders were separated in the Catholic schools.

Unidentified Group (1886)

Here we see an unidentified group of children. All we know for sure is that the photograph was taken in 1886. The dealer assumed that it was a school portrait. This may well be, but there are other possibilities such a a sunday school, but you would have thought that at least one Bible might be seen. A school is proably the best guess, but there are some concerns here. First the building with its large porch does not look like a school. It could be some sort of private school which uses a private residence, but private schools were usually single gender schools. Second the age mix does not seem right for a school. The younger children are missing. Most of the children seem to fall into the 10-16 year age range. School or not, this seems the best place to archive the image. It provides a good clear example of popular fashions for boys and girls at the time. Most of the boys wear suits, but two younger boys wear some younger. It is a little difficult to tell, but we only see three youngr boys wearing knee pants.

Hygienic School (1886-87)

The Hygienic School was a historic Afro-American school in Pennsylvania. The photograph was taken in 1886-87. The school was located in Steelton, Pennsylvania near Harrisburg. Steelton was a the name suggests built around the rising iron and steel industry of the area. The steel mills at the center of the city rose to be a major industrial complex aftervthe Civil War. The mills attracted workers in large numbers, among which were blacks primarily from the South. Low wages over time resulted in industrial strife. One of the company's strategies for dealing with labor unrest was to hire blacks and went into the South to recruit black workers. They were thought to less likely to strike and white workers often did not want to bring them into the trade unions they were attempting to form. The primary company was the Pennsylvania Steel Company which in 191 became the Bethlehem Steel Corporation. The recruiters they sent into the South were successful in finding willing black workers who had few prospects in the Jim Crow South. Once a black community was established they attracted family and friends. This began before the Great Migration beginning during CWorld War I, but increased during this period. The first blacks were housed in barracks built and operated by the company. The first recruits were mostly young men. As families formed, a black shantytown developed the old Pennsylvania Canal and along Adams Street. Other ethnic groups (Croats, Slavs, Germans, Italians, and others) attracted by the jobs gradually assimilated into multi-ethnic society, a pattern repeated elsewhere in the industrial Midwest. The prevailing racism of the day, however, kept Steeltown's blacks in their own separate community. And this included a separate school.

Peabody School (1887)

The Peabody School was a public elementary school in Little Rock, Arkansas. Little Rock is the capital and largest city in the state. We see a class at the Peabody School in 1887. Thecsource said it was a 1st grade class, but some of the boys look older. Some boys wear suit jackets and other boys just blouses. Some boys have bows. All the boys seem to wear knee pants, Some with long stockings, other boys hare barefoot. This was a public elementary (primary) school. Unlike the northern states, the Southern states did not have important public school systems before the Civil War. This was one of the complaints of white Southeners about Reconstruction--higher taxes to finance public schools. We do not have any history of the Peabody School. Being located in Little Rock, it might have been founded before the Civil War. Arkansas only entered the Union in 1836.

Utica Free School (1887)

Utica's original public high school was the Utica Free Academy which was founded in 1814. This was in the middle of a war. It was before the term 'public school' and 'high school' was in vogue. Academy convey the idea of a ecomndry school. At the time the idea of free public education was being wellestablished through the system of public lan grants creted by the Northwest Ordinance (1787), Northwest at the times meaning the Mid-West east of the Misissippi. This was rimrily aimed a primary schools. The idea of free secondary education was ot well established. Thus the Utica Free Academy was one of the earlier free secondary schools in America. As such it must have an important history. The number of students were very small. A search of internet, unfortunately offers many alumni siyes, but virtually nothing about the Academy's history. We have found a few notable tidbits. George C. Sawyer (1835- ) played an especially important role in the Academy. He graduated from Harvard (1855) became Principal of the (1858-96)m serving in that position 38 years. During the Civil War, the Academy was desrtoyed by a fire (1865). A new building was opened (1868). There were only 143 students with 7 teachers. Utica school authoritie made manual training (for the boys) and domestic science (for the girls) part of the educationl program obligatory in the middle grades (1896). This was optional in the Academy. The number of students gradually grew and a new builfing on Kemble Street was opened (1899). The schhool authorities bragged that "It is believed that in many respects this is superior to any other High School building in the State." The Utica Free Academy about 1900 has a reference library of over 2,000 volumes for the use of pupils.

Unidentified Maine Primary School (1888)

Here we have a portrait from an unidentified school in Maine in 1888. It looks to be an older primary school class. Many of the children are holing slates on which they have written their names, but few or clear enough to be made out. The school is a substntial brick building. This is only one class, we would guess children about 10 years old, meaning 5th graders, So there were several different classes. We would guess at least six and probanly eight classes. Many primary schools had 8 year programs and another less clear class portait shows children who look to be about 13 years ols or 8th graders. All of the boys here wear suits. he few boys we can see are wearing long pants. We suspect boys this age in big cities were more commonly wearing knee pants in 1888, but this was not the case in rural areas and towns away from the major cities. The girls all wear dresses, mny with crisp white pinafores. The boys all have short hair. One boy has close-cropped hair. The girls mostly have long hair. we notice one girl with short hair who looks like a boy, but as she wears a pinafore, she must be a girl. There are three adults, a young woman and two men. One must be the classroom teacher and one must be the principal. We are not sure ho the other man is.

Colfax School Private School (Late 1880s)

Here we have a cabinent card portrit of a school class (figure 1). The school is unidentified, but we believe it is a private school. We know it was located in or near Colfax, Illinois. The photographer was J.L. Shawl. The portrait is undated, but the mount and boys' clothes suggest the late-1880s to us. The early-90s is possible, but the late-80s seems more likely. It looks like a class group pictured with their teacher. Rhey loook about 13 tears old. Several of the boys holds their hats--incuding a bowler. A few of the boys have wide collars. All of the boys wear suits, some with knee pants annd others with long pants.


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Created: 7:44 PM 3/26/2007
Last updated: 6:36 PM 2/4/2022