Barbara and snopes, thanks very much for the "Rules for Teachers" page. Fascinating!
If you'll accept anecdotal evidence, I'd like to confirm some of those statements for you:
My grandmother, Caryl Oliver, was born in 1903 and received her teaching certificate in the late '10s or early '20s. She travelled by train to her first teaching job in the Midwest, where she did indeed teach in a one-room schoolhouse. (She still had a copy of the primer they used, "Singing Wheels," a story about a young man joining his family out West.)
When my grandmother married my grandfather in '28, she resigned her position because "married women could not teach school." (Direct quote.)
My mother's family moved to California in the late '40s/early '50s, and Gram resumed teaching in the late '50s. She retired for health reasons in 1968, and passed on in 1983.
She also used to tell a story about a young man who was a schoolteacher in a small mill- or mining-town. The fellow was a bachelor, "of course," and the town did not have a boarding house. The only place in town that sold meals was, unfortunately, also a tavern. So this poor fellow would have to come in the back door of the tavern for his meal, and eat it upstairs in the tavernkeeper's private rooms, because "A schoolteacher must never be seen patronizing a tavern or ale house."
Admittedly this is second- and third-hand anecdotal evidence; but my Gram was there. (And I wish you could have heard her great stories about corsets and feather beds!)
My Dad was born in 1902 (and produced me at 51, bless his riggish old heart) and was largely educated in a one-room schoolhouse. By the time he went to high school in a larger town, he had a good grounding in literature, mathematics, history, reading, writing, debate, and in chopping wood, carrying water, helping the teacher sweep the floors, and driving off curious cows who wanted to put their heads in through the window and distract the students. The schoolhouse was boiling hot or freezing cold most of the year, and if harvest or planting came at an unscheduled time, as they so often do, teacher would have to shut school so that most of her students could participate. She also had to be able to discipline boys who were twice her size, deal with teenaged pregnancy (not a modern invention), and stop pretty vicious schoolyard fights. It was a hard life for not much money. But my Dad thought well of his old teachers and that old schoolhouse, and he was certainly a well-educated man.
I remember seeing something very similar to this list way back when I was about ten or so (Okay, only 12 years ago) at the Tempe Historical Museum, in Arizona. I remember the display said the list was of the rules required for teachers in the town in the late 1800s, I think.
I recall several longer, more specific rules; including specific hours of the day when teachers were allowed to roam around town (curfew of 6 or something ridiculous), and that teachers were to be seen in the company of no males except her brother, father, or uncle.
When I was older and knew of dubious lists that Brunvand has included in his books, I had looked for the list again when I volunteered at the museum. Sadly, I could not find it.
quote:Originally posted by fenchurch: I recall several longer, more specific rules; including specific hours of the day when teachers were allowed to roam around town (curfew of 6 or something ridiculous), and that teachers were to be seen in the company of no males except her brother, father, or uncle.
I believe that very same list is in the schoolroom display of O'Keefe Ranch here. Everytime I go there, I wonder if that list is accurate. I'm pretty sure that it wouldn't have been enforced in our region, as there weren't enough people here yet to need an actual school.
Jenn, I think you make a good point. How many teachers could there be in a town that would make a separate list of laws/rules for these teachers even useful? I mean, why make a law if it only applies to one, two, five people in town?
Not that I'm doubting you, ladykat. Perhaps these were unwritten social mores; teaching was typically a woman's job (here I reference my readings of Laura Ingalls Wilder as a child), although women weren't supposed to work anyway. Once a woman was married, her "job" was to take care of the hubby and impending children. To keep teaching after marriage would have caused a negative reaction in the community.
Another minor detail that strikes me as odd from this list: why should the teacher be responsible for whittling her students' pen nibs, to the "individual tastes of the students"? I have been led to believe that past generations did not cater to childrens' whims so generously as to consider their "individual tastes" in making pen nibs; nor even to do this task for the children. I've been led to believe that for past generations, if you wanted something, you did it yourself.
Also, the "burden to society" bit---again I was led to believe that in, oh, say, 1872, when people got old they lived with one of their grown childrens' families----they were not a "burden to society" who in effect needed to save for retirement. The problem of being a burden to society, my American History classes taught me, was largely contemporaneous with the Depression...
Anyway, I'm probably wrong about a number of points, so don't hurt me. I admit that what I said is mostly speculation.
Here's an article about a female schoolteacher in Virginia who took her school board to court for the right to teach after she was married.
In the UK, leaving work on marriage was fairly common for (middle class) women: teachers were required to leave on marriage (I think that married women taught during WWI, but voted themselves back out of the workforce at the end of the war). The civil service also required women to leave on marriage.
In the vein of rules for teachers, though, here is another set, allegedly from 1915. I found it on the page of St Mary's School in Cambridge:
quote:1915 - Rules for Teachers: You may NOT: I. marry during the term of your contract II. keep company with men III. loiter down town in icecream stores IV. travel past the city limits without receiving permission from the chairman of the board V. travel in a carriage or automobile with any other man other than your father or brother VI. smoke cigarettes VII. dress in bright colours VIII. wear dresses any shorter than two inches above the ankle IX. UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES dye your hair You MUST: I. be home between 8 pm and 6 am unless attending a school function II. wear AT LEAST two petticoats III. sweep the school room floor at least once a day IV. scrub the floor with hot soapy water at least once a week V. clean the blackboard at least once daily VI. light the fire at 7 am, so that the room will be warm by 8 am
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV
Just a random question - if the women teachers were actually obeying all these rules, how did they ever manage to get married and hence lose their jobs? Unless they all married their uncles, perhaps?
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