Friday, August 31, 2012

Wonderful illustrations from two old school textbooks

If this morning's word problems were a bit too taxing for you, I'll wrap up back-to-school week with something nice and easy.

Check out these wonderful illustrations from two old textbooks — 1872's "Osgood's American Fifth Reader for Schools and Families" by Lucius Osgood and 1942's "Language Readiness for Grade Two" by Florence K. Ferris and Edward E. Keener.

First up is the Ferris/Keener workbook...

  • It doesn't look like Betty is thrilled about her visit to see Ruth and Bob.
  • It doesn't appear that Betty was wearing any kind of seat belt.
  • What kind of person do you think Betty's mother is? Discuss.

  • There I go with illustrations of young women on the telephone again.
  • What's up with that? Discuss.

  • His outfit.1
  • Discuss.

And now the Osgood reader...

Note: Can you find all seven children in the above illustration?

Note: The alternate title for "The Barefoot Boy" was "The Barefoot Boy with the Alarmingly Disproportionate Head."

Note: And, finally, we conclude back-to-school week with this illustration of a schoolhouse from the 1872 textbook. Are your old schools still around? Share your memories of them in the comments section below.

1. Is his outfit better or worse than this outfit. Discuss.

Try these word problems from 1900's "School Arithmetic Advanced Book"

This is the cover of the 1900 math textbook "School Arithmetic Advanced Book," which was written by John M. Colaw and J.K. Ellwood.1

It was part of the Johnson Series, which also included a 271-page, 35-cent Primary Book.

The book's ambitious contents include:
  • Notation and Numeration of Integers
  • Tests of Divisibility
  • Aliquot Parts
  • Measures of Value, Capacity, Weight, Extension, Volume and Time
  • Longitude and Time
  • The Metric System
  • Profit and Loss
  • Simple Interest, Annual Interest and Compound Interest

There is also a section on Practical Measurements, including discussions of using mathematics for painting, plastering, measuring lumber, brick work, stone work, carpeting and papering. Handy stuff!

Now, as we're getting back into the swing of the school year, try your hand at some of the word problems featured in the textbook.2 The answers are down below, under the footnotes.

A. A farmer bought two cows, giving $29.50 for one and $36.75 for the other. He gave in payment a wagon worth $42.25, and the rest in cash. How much money did he give?

B. If 20 bushels of wheat produce 6¼ barrels of flour, how many bushels will produce 100 barrels?

C. If 9 compositors can set up a 6-page paper in 8 hours, in how many hours can they set up a 20-page paper?

D. Sixty men can grade a street in 40 days. After 24 days, one third of the men are discharged. In how many days can the others finish the work?

E. A farm is worth 10% less than a store, and the store 20% more than a lot. The owner of the lot exchanges it for 80% of the farm, thereby losing $850. What is the farm worth?

F. A man has a library of 1,600 volumes. 14% are biography, 62% are history, and 83½% of the remainder are fiction. How many volumes of fiction in his library?

1. Here's a neat inscription from 1902 on one of the book's first pages:

2. I realize that barraging readers with a series of math word problems is probably not the best way to encourage them to return to Papergreat. But I'm trying to mix it up. It can't be all about fluffy chickens and root-beer advertisements here. We need some variety!

A. $24
B. 320 bushels
C. 26⅔ hours
D. 24 days
E. $6,750
F. 320 volumes

Thursday, August 30, 2012

"Remember the Golden School Days and the fun we've had together..."

As back-to-school week continues, here is the story of one of my favorite inscriptions I've come across.

First, about the book:
  • The title is "Lippincott's Mental Arithmetic, Embracing the Principles of Analysis and Inductions" by J. Morgan Rawlins. It was published in 1899 by J.B. Lippincott Company in Philadelphia.
  • The inside front cover indicates that John Brake of Greenville, Virginia, acquired this book on October 18, 1980.1
  • The first page features the names of (presumably) two former students who used the book:
    • Virgie E. Combs, Mine Spring School, Oct. 5, 1912.2
    • Davis G. Delawder, Dec. 4, 1919.
  • Tucked away inside is an undated newspaper clipping featuring an advertisement for a six-year subscription to The American Review and the Weather Prophet for just $1.3
All of the above is wonderful and good, and could have made for a suitable blog entry by itself. But the gold mine comes on the second page of the book, shown here:

Here's my best attempt at transcribing the cursive writing:
Remember the Golden School Days and the fun we've had together Virgie Combs. Written by Mary N- Dec. 4. 1919.

Those being present at school to day Feb. 19. 1920 are the following. Boys. Clyde Miller. Cecil Bradfield. Adolph Combs. Hopewell Bradfield. Mons [?] Miller. Harry Combs. Ruel Funkhouser. Glen Combs. [?] Combs. Perry Miller. Walter Miller. Guy Combs.

Mary Nilkins. Virgie Combs. Marie Funkhouser. [?] Miller. Lee Bradfield. Grace Miller. Essie Funkhouser. Cushia Miller. Teacher Rev. L.H. Miller. At school to day. Feb. 19. 1920. Thursday. after first recess. they are having the first reader now.
Some notes on the names:
  • Could "Mary N" and "Mary Nilkins" be "Mary W" and "Mary Wilkins"?
  • I had a difficult time figuring out Cushia Miller's first name. But once I tried "Cushia" and found this website, I knew I had it correct. Sadly, she died almost exactly five years after this note was written — at age 15 on February 14, 1925, of typhoid. Both of her parents preceded her in death.
  • I was most excited about transcribing Ruel Funkhouser and then confirming Ruel and his sister, Essie, at this genealogy website.

1. On October 18, 1980, the Kansas City Royals defeated the Philadelphia Phillies, 5-3, in Game 4 of the World Series. But the Phillies sent an important message with what Mike Schmidt called "the greatest brushback in World Series history" — the Phillies' Dickie Noles buzzing George Brett. Three days later, the Phillies were World Champions. Noles, meanwhile, went on to be traded for himself in 1987. It's true. You could look it up.
2. This is the second mention on Papergreat for the lost-in-the-sands-of-time Mine Spring School. The first, referencing Ralph Lee Combs, is here.
3. Here is the advertisement for the Weather Prophet, which is made of hardwood in the style of a Swiss cottage. In "fine" weather, two children come out of the cottage. Or, if it's going to rain or snow, a witch comes out of the cottage between 8 and 24 hours ahead of time. I would like one of these, please!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

1974 issue of National Geographic School Bulletin

Does anyone remember using the National Geographic School Bulletin in the classroom?

The small magazine, targeted toward grade-school children, was published weekly during the school year from 1919 to 1975, according to Wikipedia.

In September 1975, the School Bulletin was replaced by National Geographic World, which itself was transformed into the current National Geographic Kids in October 2001.

So this issue, dated October 28, 1974, was published toward the end of the School Bulletin's run.1 The staplebound magazine was 16 pages and had full-color, glossy pages.2

The caption for the cover photograph, which was taken by H. Edward Kim, is: "North Korean students display musical skills. Each must master an instrument as well as a practical art such as sewing."

In the cover story, we learn that National Geographic photographer Kim "recently became the first American photojournalist in 25 years permitted to report on North Korea. In its pursuit of an independent course, the North tries as much as possible to take care of its own needs, straining its land and factories and urging its people to ever-greater production."

Here is a cropped portion of another one of Kim's photographs from the School Bulletin:

The caption states: "Korean women labor on both sides of the Demarcation Line at jobs that range from apple picking to abalone diving. Field workers (above) pack apples on a North Korean farm co-op."

The short article concludes, perhaps a bit too hopefully:
"North or South, farmer or factory worker, the people call themselves Koreans. And despite their differences, they look to a time when their 'Land of the Morning Calm' will be one land once again."3
Other topics covered in this October 1974 issue include:

Finally there's an article about the efforts by Franklin Book Programs to provide books for schoolchildren around the world. It notes that the group, since its inception in 1952, had done nonprofit work in nations such as Iran, Indonesia, Pakistan, Egypt and Malaysia.4

There is a Bruce Wilcox photograph of children in flood-ravaged Bangladesh checking out a shipment from Franklin Book Programs...

Sadly, Franklin Book Programs ceased operations in 1978. Its records are stored at the Princeton University Library.

Share your memories of the National Geographic School Bulletin in the comments section.

1. October 28, 1974, is the birth date of actor Joaquin Rafael Phoenix, who stars as Freddie Quell in the new Paul Thomas Anderson film, "The Master." It comes out in just 16 days. Not that I'm counting.
2. This issue was originally mailed to a teacher at Valley View Elementary here in York County.
3. According to Wikipedia, "'The Land of the Morning Calm' is an English language title for [Korea] loosely derived from the hanja characters for Joseon."
4. Apparently, Franklin Book Programs' largest operation was in Iran, and that operation is discussed extensively in this Encyclopædia Iranica article.

Enjoy these pages from a 123-year-old language textbook

You have work to do. (Right?) So I'm not going to blather on this morning with a lot of text, footnotes and hyperlinks to get you lost in cyberspace.

But I think you'll enjoy taking a minute or two to check out these amazing old pages from 1889's "New Language Exercises" by C.C. Long, which was part of the Eclectic Educational Series by the American Book Company.


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

1904 teachers' edition of "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner"

This staplebound copy of Samuel Taylor Coleridge's 18th century poem "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" was published in October 1904.1 It's roughly the size of a modern paperback, about 46 pages and was published as an issue of "The School World" by D.H. Knowlton & Co. of Farmington, Maine.2

We can learn more about the beginnings of D.H. Knowlton and "The School World" from this excerpt from the 1885 book "A History of Farmington, Franklin County, Maine, from the Earliest Explorations to the Present Time, 1776-1885" by Francis Gould Butler:
"In 1871 Mr. D.H. Knowlton purchased a small printing establishment, consisting of a Gordon Franklin Job Press and several founts of type and other printing material. ... Here he began the publication and printing business that has since grown into a large establishment, now known under the firm name of Knowlton, McLeary, and Co. They now have four printing-presses, run by a Baxter steam engine, with other machinery and a large variety of type and other material. The excellent typographical appearance of this volume bears witness of the work from their presses. ... The publications of Knowlton, McLeary, and Co. are mostly of an educational character, consisting of school cards, topical questions, and the School World, a monthly publication intended mainly for supplementary reading in schools. It is very neatly printed, well illustrated, and is largely made up of original articles. It has a circulation in twenty-six States, and is very popular with teachers and pupils wherever used."
For me, what's most interesting about this slim volume are the other materials — notes to teachers, advertisements, etc. — that are included. Some examples:
  • There was another monthly magazine called "School World Readings," which consisted of 32 pages of history, geography and biographical information. A one-year subscription of ten
    issues mailed to the same address each month cost $2.
  • The news and notes for teachers in this issue include discussions about the increasing popularity of debate teams at Eastern colleges, plans to address the dearth of teachers, the growing demand for co-education at Eastern colleges, school flower beds, school hygiene3 and paper undergarments for women.4 There is also mention of the serious locust plague taking place in Egypt.
  • There is an advertisement (pictured at right) for D.H. Knowlton & Co.'s Star Booklets and sets of stars, which were intended for teachers who wanted to reward their pupils with gold (gilt), silver, red and blue stars for academic achievements. "The Star System is meeting with enthusiastic reception by teachers and pupils," states the advertisement.
  • The section titled "Our Book Table" had this to say about one newly published work: "The best book in the English-speaking world (it is not much to say in this case), on the subject of swamp-plant hunting is the delightfully written volume by Miss Grace Greylook Niles, called "Bog-Trotting for Orchids" (G.P. Putnam's Sons, New York). It is hard to list briefly the many excellent things about this work of a true nature-lover, which is lavishly illustrated from nature itself."
  • In the testimonials section, Maud M. Burkert of Reading, Pennsylvania, wrote about the decision to order 500 copies of various pieces of literature offered by D.H. Knowlton & Co.: "We feel that this is the best investment the School Board has ever made, and we congratulate you on the excellent work you are doing."
  • I enjoyed the glossary of definitions specifically related to Coleridge's poem, including the following:
    • Eftsoons — an old form for quickly.
    • Death-fires — phosphoric lights. Possibly St. Elmo's fires, the electrical balls of light that play about the masts and rigging of a ship; called by sailors "corposants."
    • Clomb — old form for climbed.
    • Charnel — containing the bodies of dead carcasses.5

1. 1904 should have been the year of the second World Series. But there was a boycott and no series.
2. Little Farmington has been the subject of an odd prophecy by a member of the Quakers. Farmington was also once the home of American composer Supply Belcher, who, in retrospect, had a silly name.
3. Regarding school hygiene, it was written: "Do not put fuel in stoves during school hours. Some one is losing time while doing it, and the whole room is disturbed. Put fuel in stove at recess and noon."
4. I'm not making that up. And I don't know what it's doing alongside the other news. Apparently paper undergarments, by Mrs. John J. Carter of London, were going to be the next big thing. Indeed, I also spotted this headline in the September 2, 1904, edition of the Logansport (Indiana) Journal: "PAPER LINGERIE IS LATEST: CHEAP AND NEEDN'T WASH IT."
5. As opposed to living carcasses.

New Art Education: Focus on learning and thinking for yourself

I'm sure most of us have fond memories of our elementary-school art classes.

Crayons. Construction paper. Elmer's glue. Mr. Sketch scented markers/gateway drug. Papier-mâché projects. Working with clay. Bringing your dad's old shirt for painting days.

I know my elementary-school art classes in Clayton, N.J., and Montoursville, Pa., were a blast, even if I don't have much left to remember them by.1

And so that brings us to today's back-to-school item — a staplebound 1944 book titled "New Art Education (Book I)," which was written by Elise E. Ruffini and Harriet E. Knapp and illustrated by Charles Clement and Thomas Davenport. The book was co-published by The American Crayon Company of Sandusky, Ohio, and Practical Drawing Company of Dallas, Texas.

What's fascinating about this book is its minimalism. It's not a step-by-step instruction manual for children's art projects. It explains its philosophy on the inside front cover:
"The pages in this book go one, two, three, as in other books. But we shall not use them as in other books. We shall use any page at any time that we need to! This will be more interesting, and it will be more fun. We shall look for the page we want when we want it.

"This book will teach us many new things. But we must not copy what see in the book. That would spoil everything. We shall learn to work in our own way. All girls and boys must learn to think for themselves. We must learn, too, how to design and draw and paint for ourselves. We must do things that way we think about them."
It's an interesting approach, encouraging children to experiment and discover on their own, rather than holding their hand through every step. There are no right answers or wrong answers in art, if you do your own work and let your imagination run free.

Here are some of the typical pages from the 68-year-old book:

1. I do still have this gorgeous clayware dish I made while attending elementary school in Clayton, N.J.:

Monday, August 27, 2012

A time-honored school tradition:
The excuse note

How's this for a vintage find?

I found this decades-old excuse note tucked away inside a copy of the 1925 textbook "Junior Training for Modern Business" by John G. Kirk and Mary Waesche.

The note reads:
"Please excuse Charlotte and Mary for being absence [sic] as they were not feeling well, and came home at noon. J.B. Harner"
Charlotte's last name is also Harner, as her name is written in cursive on the first page of the textbook.

Other than the excuse note, the best part of this book is the vintage 1920s photos of the secretarial side of the business. Here are a few:

And, yes, I know this is the third different photo or illustration I've had of a young woman on the telephone in the past eight days. I didn't plan it that way. And it's not a fetish. Everyone knows my fetish is young women reading in window seats.

Finally, there's a minor mystery tucked away inside this textbook, too. It's a small, triangular slip of paper that states "Fishburne." Any thoughts?

"Here and There" safety textbook from Windsor Township school

"Here and There" was a 1938 textbook focused on safety that was published by the American Book Company.

All of the authors were Cleveland-area school officials:
  • Horace Mann Buckley, Assistant Superintendent of Schools
  • Margaret L. White, Supervisor of Elementary English
  • Alice B. Adams, Assistant Superintendent of Cuyahoga County
  • Leslie R. Silvernale, Supervisor in charge of safety education
This copy was once property of the Windsor Township School District, which is now part of the larger Red Lion Area School District here in York County. It was used regularly in the 1950s, as evidenced by this sticker on the inside front cover:

So, the students who used the book more than a half-century ago included Gary Geesey, George Lighty, Larry, Robert, Jim Bender and Laurie. In addition, the name Tammy Hite appears on the adjacent page. Whatever schoolhouse they were attending in the 1950s must have had at least eight classrooms.

The chapter titles in the textbook include The Path to School, The School Bus, Rules for the Bus Patrol, How to Prevent Fires, The Careless Chimney Sweep, Grandmother1, Clean Walks and Steps and Safety on the Farm.

Here are a couple of the book's neat illustrations that are focused on the school bus and the safety patrol...

There is a long section on the danger of live wires across the road. These are the things you should do when you a see a live wire, according to the book:
1. Guard the wire and do not let anyone come near it.
2. Ask someone to call a policeman.
3. Telephone the electric company.
Meanwhile, other than the obvious stuff, one of the noted jobs of the bus patrol is to "tell the bus driver is anyone on a bicycle, roller skates, or a sled tries to hold on at the back of the bus."

Fire safety is also stressed heavily in the textbook. Here are two of those illustrations...

1. I wasn't sure why a textbook on safety had a chapter titled "Grandmother." But it contains tips for fending off grandmothers who are coming in for an unwanted hug. Children are supposed to respond by telling Gramma to lie down in their name and in the name of her father. So, for example, you would state, "Lie down in the name of Hastur!" Handy stuff, this book.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Caption contest will continue for one more week

Note to readers: The caption contest that was announced last weekend will continue for one more weekend. Results will be unveiled on September 2.

Read all about it here.

There are some great responses so far. More entries would be great. We might even end up with multiple winners, so everyone should get involved!

Back-to-school week kicks off with vintage bulletin boards

Today is the start of back-to-school week on Papergreat! I'll be featuring cool school-related ephemera all week long. I hope it's a nostalgia trip with a little bit of something for everyone as the country's children break out their backpacks, paper-bag lunches, slide rules, and Trapper Keepers for another school year.

To kick it off, here are some vintage illustrations from books that helped teachers get their classroom bulletin boards ready for the first day of school.

First, here are three great suggestions from 1967's "Hayes Bulletin Boards That Teach with Wit and Humor," which was written by Edith Ray and illustrated by Al Harris.

This next idea comes from 1964's "Bulletin Boards for the Classroom" by Lloyd Kendall. The text on the poster states:

September's here,
And so is Fall,
So, "Welcome, children!
Welcome, all!
I hope vacation
Was real fun,
And that you're glad
School has begun!"

Transitioning from leaves to apples, this illustration comes from 1984's "Bulletin Boards, Monthly Calendars of Learning Fun" by Robyn Spizman and illustrator Evelyn Pesiri.

Given yesterday's news of the death of American astronaut Neil Armstrong, I wanted to include this math classroom suggestion from 1985's "Bulletin Board Ideas for the Secondary Mathematics Classroom" by Peter J. Ketchum.

Finally, keeping with that theme, a rocketship is the centerpiece of this idea, which is featured in 1970's "Ideal Bulletin Board (Middle Upper and High)" by Lou Ann Dickerson.

The additional instructions state: "A good character building message to being the new school year! The dominant feature is the rocket; this may be done in a 3-D manner by bending oak tag or cardboard and painting with bright tempera colors. If a flat design is desired, use silver foil for the rocket and lettering. Make stars from red, white, and blue construction paper and print a reminder on or beside each star."