Friday, April 1, 2011

Peeking inside a circa-1940 Shippensburg High gradebook

Did you ever peek inside the teacher's gradebook when you were in school?

I came across George John Miller's 1939-40 gradebook1 from Shippensburg (Pennsylvania) Senior High School and have had a chance to comb through its pages.

First off, it took a little sleuthing to confirm that it is, indeed, from Shippensburg High, because the word "Shippensburg" doesn't appear anywhere. The clincher: One of Miller's students was Jack Hargleroad, who was the editor of The 1940 Scroll, Shippensburg's high school yearbook (title page pictured at right).

The school year began on Monday, September 18, 1939. The subjects Miller taught were:
  • Mathematics: This was four days per week, with no class on Wednesday. There were 32 students2.
  • Physics: Five days a week, with class starting at 8:53 a.m. There were 27 students, including Hargleroad.
  • Trigonometry: Four days per week, with no class on Monday. There were 16 students, including Hargleroad, who sat front and center in the first row.

The grading system at the time called for letter grades of A, B, C, D and E (no F). In his Mathematics class, Miller handed out five A's, seven B's, 15 C's, four D's and one (presumably failing) E.

There's an interesting page toward the back of the gradebook (pictured at left) on which Miller has written a series of dates, followed by numbers that range from 1 to 4, in ½ increments. One day is marked as "Absent." I wonder whether Miller was keeping track of his "overtime" each day? (Presumably, extra time tutoring students before and/or after school.) Supporting this theory, there are also a couple longhand multiplication calculations on the page. In one, he computes that 34 times .30 equals 10.20. Another one: 38 times .30 equals 11.40. Was he computing his overtime pay, based on thirty cents per hour? That would seem to be in the right neighborhood, moneywise. In 1940, the average teacher made roughly $1,500 to $2,000 per year. (It varied somewhat, based upon the region of the United States.)

It looks like the gradebook was only used for that 1939-40 school year. Miller appears to have started using it for a chemistry lab that he was teaching (perhaps the following year), but abandoned that page in the first week.

Shown below are Miller's seating charts for his Mathematics and Physics classes.

Taking attendance
Here's a list of the names in Miller's gradebook. I figure that if this helps even one genealogist some day, then it was worth typing up:

MATHEMATICS: Hilda Adams, Esther Baker, Edwin Book, Esther Clough, Ray Martin, Dorothy Cressler, Stanley Cressler, Sarah Durff, Geo. Helfrick, Chas. Hockersmith, Morrow Holtry, Gus Jackson, John Koser, Maro. McCune, Alma Noaker, Sarah Neff, Anna Orris, Anna Perry, Bruce Perry, Robt. Rotz, Rich Schwenk, Jean Shannon, Evelyn Sheaffer, John Sherman, Maralee Sowers, Galen Smith, Ruth Smith, Helen Sufficool, Alice Yocum, Robt. Florig, Ruth Gearhart, Paul Hauk, and Edith Heavner.

PHYSICS: Louise Booz, Jane Clark, Marvin Cooper, Galen Currens, Jane Fleck, Rachel Foreman, Pauline Garling, Harold Green, William Grove, Dorothy Hall, Jack Hargleroad, Dorothy Hubley, Jean Morgan, Marg. Means, Dorothy Naugle, Rhetta Osuannessy, Elizabeth Reeder, Jerry Rohr, Garnita Seavers, Rebecca Sheaffer, Clara Jane Singiser, Jane Stewart, Thad Stover, Neva Walters, Lucille Werner, Helen Yocum, and Louise Zinn.

TRIGONOMETRY: James Cunkle, Galen Currens, Harold Green, William Grove, Jack Hargleroad, Jerry Rohr, Thad Stover, Jean Coffey, Marg. Davidson, Elizabeth Diehl, Rachel Foreman, Zelda Meiley, Dorothy Miller, Dorothy Naugle, Rosalyn Shearer, and Lucille Werner.

CHEMISTRY LAB: Thomas Beidel, Jean Burkhart, Robert Etter, John Fogelsanger, Ed Grove, Lee Hippensteele, Paggy Hargleroad3, Lee Hale, Harry Jacobs, Lester Kann, Lee Kohr, Leona Kegris, Wayne McBrid, Joe Miller, Rachel Miller, James Reddig, Merrill Reed, Dick Rine, Betty Stock, Virginia Squires, Edith Sheaffer, Charles Sowers, Ray Smith, Paul Smith, Park. Freidinger, and Dot Brenneman.

1. It's called "Continental Class Record" and was published by The Continental Press, Cameron and Kelker streets, Harrisburg. It employs WIRE-O BINDING, which is listed as "Patent Pending" on the front page. Looks like the patent came through, because I found this tidbit: "James Burn International and Spiral Binding/James Burn USA are the creators and only manufacturers of Genuine Original Wire-O® Binding Wire."
2. And they complain about class sizes these days!
3. "Paggy" is clearly what is written. But I wonder if the correct nickname is "Peggy", which would be short for Margaret Hargleroad.


  1. Just found this totally randomly while looking for a picture of the now-demolished school, which is where I went to JHS (a new high school had been built by then). Some 17 years after this gradebook was in use, Dr. Jack Hargleroad delivered me at Chambersburg Hospital. His classmate Dorothy Hubley was my elementary school principal, and several other people listed above were friends of my parents, who moved to town in the 50's and were professors at what is now Shippensburg University. Thanks for posting!

  2. My sister just sent me a ref showing that "Paggy" Wise's (nee Hargleroad) real first name was "Pague". I knew her as a JHS PE teacher and had always assumed it was "Peg". A quick check of a US first-names site lists just one living person with that first name.

    1. Thanks for adding these comments! I'm also happy when people find these posts through search and stumble upon a piece of their past. And you have added to the discussion/history with the information about Paggy/Pague. I would have never guessed that Pague was a first name. We've all learned something! ... .Thanks for reading and commenting.