Unfortunately we don't know much about this school. All we know for sure is that it was a Catholic school, commonly called a parochial school in the United States. There is no location or date available. We think it may be a California school, but we are not at all positive. The only hint from the photograph as to location is the wood plank construction of the school. Dating is a little easier because we can estimate it from the children's clothes. The boys wearing Fauntleroy outfits with ruffled collars is a good indicator of the 1890s or early 1900s. We believe that this portrait was taken in the 1890s, although the early 1900s is possible. We know it was a Catholic school because of the emblem on the wall and the nun in the portrait.
Unfortunately we don't know much about this school. All we know for sure is that it was a Catholic school, commonly called a parochial school in the United States. We know it was a Catholic school because of the Jesus shrine in the window and the nun in the portrait. It looks to be a small primary school, probably grades 1-8. That would mean children up to about 13 years of age.
Public schools began to develop in the early 19th century. They were controlled by protetant officials who in many cases were hostile to Catholocism. As large numbers of Catholic immigrants (primarily Irish) began to arrive in the 1840s, the Church decided to create their own separate Catholic schools. Suceeding waves of immigration from Catholic countries (especially Italy) greatly expanded the U.S. Catholic population. The Catholic schools at one pont were education more than 20 percent of American children. The Catholic schools unlike the state public schools insisted on a school uniform. I'm not sure why the Church made this decision, but may be due to the Irish and Italian influence or the fact that immigrant Americans were generally low income families and would be sensitive to preceived differrences in the clothing that poorer children might be wearing. The uniforms worn by the boys are usually white shirts and ties, sweater, and solid color--often blue pants. Usually the boys wore long pants, but many elementary schools now permit shorts.
There is no location or date available. We think it may be a California school, but we are not at all positive. The only hint from the photograph as to location is the wood plank construction of the school. The school portrait here was found with a photograph of an older nun, taken years later. There are brick buildings in the background. There is information on the back written in pencil that is somewhat difficult to read. I can read the following: Property of Ella Mae Veronica Donovan, Chautauqua Blvd. 1920." There is no asurance that the nun stayed at the same school for 20-30 years, but it is possible. Searchin for Chautauqua Blvd. we find a location in Los Angeles, Clifornia along Pacific Coast Highway and Valley City, North Dakota. The wood planls look more like northern California to us. We note a Chautauqua Catholic School in Dunkirk, New York, but there is no way to be sure just where the school was located.
Dating is a little easier because we can estimate it from the children's clothes. The boys wearing Fauntleroy outfits with ruffled collars is a good indicator of the 1890s or early 1900s. We believe that this portrait was taken in the 1890s, although the early 1900s is possible.
The children are all wedged in together so it is difficult to make out a lot of setailabout their clothing. Many of the boys wear suits, others hust blouses. Quite a few wear floppy bows. The only boys that we can see in more detail or the younger boys at the front. Several of them wear Fauntleroy suits with ruggled collars. They all seem to be wearing knee pants witj long stockings. The girls all wear dresses. Dark dresses seem particularly popular. A few girls wear pinafores, but not white ones.
Almost all of the boys have short hair cuts. The one exception is a younger boy at the front. He has elaborate ringlet curls which he wears with his Fauntleroy suit. This was somewhat unusual. We note quite a few boys wearing Fauntleroy outfits to school in the 1890s, but most boys had their ringlets cut before they begans school. The girls seem to have a wide ramge of hair styles.
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