School Clothes: Individual U.S. Schools--Grafton School

Figure 1.--This class portrait at the Grafton School shows a typical class of American second graders at a public school in 1955-56.

The Grafton school is a public elementary school in Grafton Massaschestts, a northeastern state. From the beginning it appears to have been a coeducational school. As with other public schools, there are no school uniforms. We have no information about the school, but we do have photographs taken over many years which provide a wonderful record of changing American boys' fashions over time. One notice about cahnge over time is how American boys used to dress up to go to school, but gradually began wearing casual clothes.


HBC has one image from the 1985 Grafton "farm school". The children lokk to be about the same age, 8-9 years. So they appear to be one class from a larger schoool. Children that age would be in the 3rd or 4th grade. The boys here have their hats which is relatively wear in these portraits.


Boys in the 1890s dressed up to go to school. As many boys wear jackets it appears to be a portrait takebn in the fall or spring. The younger boys might even wear large ruffled collars. All the boys wore kneepants, most with long dark stockings. Some boys wore sailor suits.


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 id 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 bnoys wear quite a variety of outfirs including two sailor suits.


Yonger boys in 1912 did not wear suit jackets to school. Most boys wore shirts and blouses, buttoned to the collar. One boy wore a ruffled collar. One boy wore a bow and another a necktie. One boy had a smart sailor suit. Boys wore knickers, including some above the knee styles, with dark long stockings. The boys have short hair cuts, contrasting to the long hair worn by mot of the girls. Hair bows were very popular with the girls.


The boys in the 7th and 8th grade at Grafton School wear knicker suits. They appear to be mostly single breasted suits. The boys all wear long over-the-knee stockings. Kneesocks were still not common. Only one boy appears to be wearing long trousers. A few boys wear canvass sneakers. The boys wear ties with suit jackets. Neck ties are common, note of the boys wear bowties. Quite a few girls, but none of the boys, wear middy blouses.


The boys are all dressed quite casually by the 1950s. All the boys at the Grafton School in 1956-57 are wearing long pants, many wear jeans. One boys wears jeans and keds. Even the 2nd graders wear long pants, nearly the youngest boys at the school. This is how I remember American elemeentary schools in the 1950s. Boys at most schools always wore long pants. The girls are also dressed casually, but all wear dresses.

Christopher Wagner

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Created: June 3, 2001
Last updated: June 7, 2001