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ber of the first board of school inspectors.

In 1846 an ordinance was passed directing the board of inspectors to have all
its proceedings published in whatever city papers would publish them gratis. The
same order regulated the duties of trustees and inspectors. The trustees by this
new ordinance were given the care of the school property and were responsible for
its proper preservation; they were to recommend necessary repairs and purchases
of fuel, apparatus, etc. They were not, however, allowed, as hitherto, to contract
and pay for the same, or incur any expenses, save for fuel and water. The bills
were to be audited by the council and paid from the school tax fund. The in-
' spectors' duties were also limited, so that they could not fix the salaries of teachers,
nor cause any expenditures from the school fund, except for salaries of teachers
already fixed; all bills were to be referred to the Council. The inspectors could
recommend alterations and additions to school property. The powers given the
trustees by the charter of 1837 were thus limited by this ordinance to recommenda-
tion of financial dealings, whereas before they had the initiative in such matters.
In 1857 the charter was amended, abolishing the board of trustees, and increasing
the number of inspectors to fifteen. The name of the board of inspectors was then
changed to that of board of education. Thus the decentralized system which existed
while trustees were elected from districts and divided the management of schools
with the inspectors, was abolished, and in its place a centralized system was es-
tablished.

In 1847 the school fund was increased by $68,000 by what was known as the
Wharfing Lot fund, obtained from the city's settlement concerning the wharfing
privileges. It was given into the charge of the agent of the school fund, to be
loaned out as was the original fund. Further, the lots which were given to the
city by the state for school purposes were at this time sold or leased.

TEN YEARS' PROGRESS

A paragraph from the report of the school inspectors for 1849 shows what the
improvement in school affairs during the last decade had been: "Since the or-
ganization of our Public Schools in the autumn of 1840, there has been a change
unparalleled in the school history of any western city. Then a few miserably clad
children, unwashed and uncombed, were huddled into small, uncleanly and unven-



CHICAGO: ITS HISTORY AND ITS BUILDERS 289

tilated apartments, seated upon uncomfortable benches and taught by listless and
inefficient tutors, who began their daily avocations with dread, and completed what
they considered their unpleasant duties with pleasure. Now the school reports of
the Township show the names of nearly 2000 pupils, two-thirds of whom are in
daily attendance in spacious, ventilated, well-regulated school rooms, where they
are taught by those whose duty is their pleasure. The scholars are neat in person
and orderly in behavior, and by the excellent course of moral and mental training
which they receive are being prepared to become good citizens, an honor to the
City and State."

Plans were made the next year for a building in the southern part of the city,
which was soon completed at a cost of $6795, and known as the Jones school,
situated at the corner of Wabash avenue and Twelfth street.

The improved general conditions in Chicago were but an expression of the pro-
gress in educational matters that was noticeable in many of the settled districts of
the country. A digression here may be permitted in order to indicate a movement
which had its marked effect on Chicago.

MISS CATHARINE E. BEECHER's WORK

Owing to the efforts of Miss Catharine E. Beecher, who for many years during
the first half of the nineteenth century had devoted her energies to the cause of the
higher education of women, a movement was started to organize women of all re-
ligious denominations, prepare them as teachers and send them to the destitute sec-
tions of the West and South. 10 To this end Miss Beecher organized committees of
women in the Eastern cities to cooperate with her in the work "of training woman
for her true profession as educator and chief minister of the family state, and to se-
cure to her the honor and pecuniary reward which men gain in their profession."
Miss Beecher wrote letters to men of influence to ask their advice regarding this
movement, and finally secured the cooperation of ex-Governor Slade of Vermont,
who offered to undertake the work of transferring to the West teachers already pre-
pared, and organized at Cleveland the Board of National Popular Education, having
for its object the starting and maintaining of schools in settlements in the new coun-
try, which without its help would not be provided with teachers.

Miss Beecher, knowing the difficulties to be encountered by pioneer teachers,
proposed "that before they were sent out they should meet in some place for a
month to hear lectures, and visit classes in some normal school." Of the three hun-
dred young women first recommended to her by ministers in the East to whom she
had appealed, a class of thirty or forty was made up, prepared and sent out. In
spite of Miss Beecher's plans- and efforts to secure proper accommodation for the
teachers on their arrival in strange places, provision had not been made by those
having this part of the work in charge, and thence arose great hardships to the
young women from lack of money, few or no comforts, dangerous risks to health,
squalid homes, where they sometimes were forced to live and sleep in the small
cabin which housed, besides, a family with not too wholesome habits. There were
some communities willing and able to support teachers, which were so divided by

10 Catharine E. Beecher: "Educational Reminiscences," pp. 100 et seq.
Tol. 119



290 CHICAGO: ITS HISTORY AND ITS BUILDERS

personal or sectarian jealousies that union for a common good was impossible;
other places had become so discouraged from their experiences with incompetent
teachers making high pretensions that there was an attitude of distrust toward the
good teachers who might follow. Though beset with these and numberless other
difficulties, the supporters of education continued their efforts, young women volun-
teering their services, and classes being constantly prepared and sent forth from the
East. An extract from a letter to Miss Beecher from one member of her first class
is impressive. After writing of the suspicion with which she was at first regarded
by the ignorant settlers, their reluctant support of her when she first came, and the
godlessness of the place, she continues, "My greatest trials here are the want of
religious privileges, the difficulty of sending to the distant postoffice, the entire want
of social sympathy, and the manner in which I am obliged to live. I board where
there are eight children and the parents, and only two rooms in the house. I must
do as the family do about washing, as there is but one basin and no place to go to
wash but out the door. I have not enjoyed the luxury of either lamp or candle, their
only light being a cup of greese with a rag for a wick. Evening is my only time
to write, and this kind of light makes such a disagreeable smoke and smell I cannot
bear it, and do without light except the fire. I occupy a room with three of the
children and a niece who boards here. The other room serves as a kitchen, parlor,
and bedroom for the rest of the family.

"I have read your 'Domestic Economy' through to the family, one chapter a
day. They like it, and have adopted some of your suggestions in regard both to
order and to health. They used to drink coffee three times a day. Now they use
it only once a day. Their bread used to be heavy and half-baked, but I made yeast
by the receipt in your book, and thus made some good bread. They were much pleased
with it, and I have made such ever since."

The letter ends with an account of the improved behavior of the children, the
satisfaction and confidence felt by the parents, and the expression of a hope that
these labors will be blessed with good results, even though pleasure, wealth and 'fame
do not accompany them.

The missionary character of the work must always be remembered. The teach-
ers were gathered from congregations in the East whose pastors had preached of
the self sacrifice and devotion necessary in the field that was calling for workers.
The meagre salaries that were given, sometimes indeed being altogether unpaid,
were no compensation for the loneliness and misery and privation suffered by too
many who had gone forth filled with enthusiasm and urged by the demands of their
religion. If love of novelty and adventure had prompted any to volunteer to teach
in strange regions, there was need for more sturdy qualities than these to endure
and cope with the rough conditions.

EXPERIENCES OF MISS HARRIET N. BURNS

A letter written in 1900 to the author by Mrs. H. N. Emerson of New Hamp-
shire, who was formerly Miss Harriet N. Burns, is of local interest. "Dear Sir:
I went to Chicago with the first class of teachers sent out by Gov. William Slade
of Vermont, in 1847. We went to Boston, thence to Albany, where we stopped
in families who volunteered to receive us, and we were given lessons in different



CHICAGO: ITS HISTORY AND ITS BUILDERS 291

branches by several teachers, Miss Catharine Beecher the principal one (older
sister of Harriet B. Stowe) ; another, Miss Bacon, sister of Dr. Leonard Bacon.
Miss Beecher gave instruction in regard to health and climate, how to preserve the
former and to resist exposure to the latter. In Albany we stopped about three
weeks; then started to Schenectady thence by packet on the Erie canal, to Buffalo.
(In Albany I stopped with a Mr. Richard Ainsley, a dealer in looking glasses, etc.,
who went to Chicago the same summer and opened a store, and came out to see me
at Gross Point.)

"From Buffalo we took a steamer, the Hendrick Hudson, and sailed by the
straits of Mackinac.

"In Chicago we were received, as in Albany, into families, until schools were
found and assigned to us. I with another teacher stopped with a Mr. George
Manierre, a young lawyer.

"Those on the committee to assign schools were, as I remember, J. Y. Scammon,
Dr. Boone, Mr. Meeker, Dr. Kimberly and the Mr. Manierre named above. When
I visited Chicago in '93 I called on his son, who told me he was in the cradle at
that time.

"In June I commenced to teach, at Gross Point, in a log schoolhouse near the
lake shore, so near the names of steamers passing could sometimes be seen. I
boarded with Mr. Philo Colvin, who lived in a frame house near by.

"There was no preaching nearer than Chicago, except occasionally by the
Methodists, and a class leader named Huntoon, who met at the schoolhouse, and
we had a Sunday school, Mrs. James Colvin and myself teaching, Mr. H. acting
as superintendent and librarian. Mr. Albert Colvin, son of Mr. James Colvin, is
now living [in] Chicago, as I believe. Very truly yours,

"H. N. EMERSON."

MOVEMENT TO ESTABLISH HIGH SCHOOLS

Better than sending teachers from the East to the South and West, was the
movement that was made to establish high schools at central points in the West,
having a department for normal training attached. The advantages thus gained
were numerous: these schools were so located as to have a sufficiently large popula-
tion to draw on for attendance; there was small expense to the students, since they
need not be wholly cared for at the school, having homes near by; the growing
demand for teachers in the immediate vicinity was supplied from these schools;
the spirit of education was fostered in the West, and the demand for schools and
teachers thereby greatly increased. This movement was avowedly in great part
one to raise the standard of women's education, and was an effort toward secur-
ing "permanency to female institutions in the West, and thoroughness to female
education there, so that all women as a general rule would be fitted to become
teachers, either to their own children or in regular schools."

From these efforts resulted not only wider education for the women of the
West, who with proper training were just as well fitted as Eastern women to be-
come good teachers, but there was an advantage in having established normal schools
in the West, to which those in the vicinity who were looking for teachers could
apply, seeing and talking with the students, and so eliminating many chances of
the disappointment that often resulted from engaging a teacher by letter.



292 CHICAGO: ITS HISTORY AND ITS BUILDERS

While Chicago's educational problems were in many respects different from
those just described, still the connection between the development of schools there
and that in other places was a close one. There was in Chicago the same oppo-
sition to a school system supported by taxation which existed generally through-
out the West and South, and the increased interest in education which, aroused by
such leaders as Miss Beecher, brought school teachers to many a desolate settle-
ment remote from the town, manifested itself in Chicago in reorganization of the
school system, building of schoolhouses to be owned by the city, and a closer at-
tention to school management.

CHANGES IN SCHOOL TERMS

To resume the narrative of the Chicago schools: Upon petition of the teachers
in 1850, a change in the school term was made after the passing of the following
order: "That the first vacation in the Common Schools in the city shall hereafter
commence with the last Saturday in June, and continue till the first Monday in
August of each year; that the second vacation be the week of the Christmas Holi-
days." The school week also was then changed so that school was held for five
days, Saturday morning to be used for a Teachers' Institute. Later, in 1856, the
summer vacation was lengthened to a period of about six weeks. The Teachers'
Institute was ordered by the Council probably as a result of the plans suggested
in the first state convention held at Springfield five years before, to serve as a sub-
stitute for the normal training which many of the teachers lacked. It has con-
tinued, with changes and additions, to the present day.

An ordinance passed in 1851 assured at least one public school in each district;
two years later the records show a population in Chicago of 59,130, an enrollment
of 3,000 pupils, and a cost of $12,129 for maintaining the schools for the year.
This growth in work and responsibility, as well as the increased need of central
organization to take the place of local organization, caused the board of school
inspectors to consider, in 1853, the expediency of appointing a superintendent of
public schools; to this end they drew up a resolution which bore fruit in an ordi-
nance passed later in the same year by the Common Council, creating the office
of Superintendent of Schools. The growing prosperity of the city at this time,
and the increased population, both a result of the building of railroads and the
opening of the Illinois and Michigan canal, created a civic pride that demanded
improved institutions, as well as larger factories and stores.

FIRST SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENT

In the spring of 1854 the board of inspectors elected to the position of superin-
tendent of schools John C. Dore, principal of the Boylston Grammar School of
Boston. When the office of Superintendent of Schools was created, the enrollment
of pupils was about 3,000, and the number of teachers thirty-five.

Mr. Dore, in his first report, called attention to those conditions in the schools
which were unsatisfactory, and which could be improved. He pointed out that
there was not a general city school system, the pupils were unclassified, there was
no registration of attendance, promotions were not made with reference either



CHICAGO: ITS HISTORY AND ITS BUILDERS 293

to age or examination, the studies of grammar and arithmetic were much neglected,
as much time was devoted to going to and from recitations as in actual classwork,
and there was little interest shown by the teachers in the Teachers' Institute. Mr.
Dore soon remedied these evils, by organizing divisions, examining pupils and as-
signing them to their proper grades, and insisting on the use of uniform textbooks
throughout the schools. He recommended, besides, that a high school be started
in the city. There were at this time seven schools, which were so crowded that
one thousand children had to be refused seats.

Two years later Mr. Dore resigned, and was succeeded by Mr. William H.
Wells, principal of the normal school at Westfield, Massachusetts. Mr. Wells had
for twenty years been prominent in educational work in Massachusetts, was full
of the spirit of Horace Mann then dominating the schools 'of that state, and was
enthusiastic in carrying out the most progressive plans of education. In his first
report on the Chicago schools Superintendent Wells stated that there were at
least "three thousand children in our city who are utterly destitute of school in-
struction or any equivalent for it;" he also called attention to the overcrowding of
the buildings. This last named condition made the need of a high school the more

urgent.

t

FIRST HIGH SCHOOL BUILDING

The question of establishing a high school had come up soon after the schools
were reorganized in 1840, in order to provide for the more advanced pupils. The
inspectors in their annual report for 1843 had suggested it, but the Common Coun-
cil, pleading insuperable objections, waived the question, until in 1855, after much
urging from the board of inspectors, they ordered and provided for the building
of a high school in Block 1 (located on West Monroe street near Halsted). In tak-
ing this step Chicago was keeping abreast of the progress made in the older com-
munities of the East, as Boston, Philadelphia and New York had but recently
established high schools. In October, 1856, the school opened, with C. A. Dupee
as principal. The curricula included a classical course of three years, an English
course of three years, and a normal course of two years, this last named depart-
ment being conducted by Ira Moore. The combined classical and English courses
could be completed in four years. There were various changes in the schedule
before the length of all courses became uniform. There were 158 candidates for
admission at the first examination in 1856, 114 of whom were admitted on a per-
centage of fifty.

By 1869 thirteen years after its opening the high school building had be-
come so crowded that classes were formed in the several divisions of the city; in
these classes the first year work was done, after which the students went to the
central building to complete the course. The normal department later occupied
a separate building, and Mr. Edward C. Delano was made principal in 1857, a
position he held until 1877, when the normal school was discontinued, because more
students were being graduated than were then needed as teachers in the schools.
It was the plan to suspend the work temporarily in the school, but it was never
reorganized.

From 1877 to 1893 there was no school or department for the training of teach-
ers in the city of Chicago. While Mr. George Howland was superintendent of



294 CHICAGO: ITS HISTORY AND ITS BUILDERS

schools (1881-1890), high school graduates who passed the teachers' examination
were assigned to schools as cadets to learn how to teach. When they were con-
sidered able to undertake a class, they were given positions as regular teachers.
As the number of these inexperienced teachers increased and threatened the wel-
fare of the schools, it was decided to give them some professional training in
addition to their cadet practice. A training class for cadets was therefore organ-
ized in 1893, and proved to be, practically, a resuming of the work of the Chi-
cago Normal school, which was closed in 1877. The next advance which was
made in Chicago in the training of its teachers was the agreement with the county
to take over and maintain as a city school the old Cook County Normal school.
This agreement was made in 1896, and will be noticed later.



CHAPTER XV

EDUCATION IN CHICAGO (CONTINUED)

OVERCROWDED CONDITION OF THE SCHOOLS GRADED INSTRUCTION INTRODUCED

PROGRESSIVE POLICY OF SUPERINTENDENT WELLS SEPARATE SCHOOLS FOR COL-
ORED CHILDREN JOSIAH L. PICKARD BECOMES SUPERINTENDENT IN 1865 STUDY

OF GERMAN DECIDED UPON EVENING SCHOOLS CORPORAL PUNISHMENT ABOL-
ISHED SCHOOLS FOR THE DEAF EFFECTS OF THE GREAT FIRE CHANGES IN

MANNER OF APPOINTMENT OF MEMBERS OF THE BOARD DUANE DOTY BECOMES

SUPERINTENDENT MANUAL TRAINING AND DOMESTIC SCIENCE GROWTH OF HIGH

SCHOOLS COMMERCIAL COURSES IN HIGH SCHOOLS PRESIDENT JAMES* VIEWS

HIGH SCHOOL ATHLETICS KINDERGARTENS BENEFITS FROM KINDERGARTEN

CLASSES NATIONAL HOLIDAYS RECOGNIZED BY SCHOOL BOARD FIRST WOMAN MEM-
BER OF BOARD OF EDUCATION ALBERT G. LANE BECOMES SUPERINTENDENT IN

1890 MORE SCHOOL BUILDINGS REQUIRED NORMAL SCHOOL COLONEL FRANCIS

W. PARKER NORMAL COURSE LENGTHENED BUILDING FOR NORMAL SCHOOL

LAWSUIT TO PREVENT ERECTION OF BUILDING MRS. ELLA FLAGG YOUNG BECOMES

PRINCIPAL OF NORMAL SCHOOL NORMAL EXTENSION WORK WAR ON "FADs"-

INSTRUCTION FOR THE BLIND SUBNORMAL PUPILS.

OVERCROWDING IN THE SCHOOLS

MEANWHILE, during the fifties and sixties, the evil of overcrowded school-
houses was growing worse each year in spite of the emphasis laid on
the correction of it in the superintendent's reports. 1 Some of the gram-
mar school teachers had over one hundred pupils each, and primary
teachers often had from two hundred to three hundred little children
in a room, wriggling and whispering in unmanageable numbers. The new build-
ings which were hastily constructed to meet the unusual demand, did not provide
a proper amount of air or light or heat for the great number of pupils crowded
into them; hence arose the discomfort to the children, which was one of the
causes of irregular attendance against which the authorities struggled for years.
As the establishment of a high school in 1856 relieved this condition of things but
imperceptibly, other schools were built, and in 1858 the minimum school age
was raised to six years. Thus the average number of pupils under one teacher
was reduced to seventy-seven, and the strain upon the capacity of the school-
houses relieved for the time being.

At the end of 1857 there were ten public schools in the city and two small

1 "The Public Schools of Chicago," by Hannah B. Clark, p. 20.

295




296 CHICAGO: ITS HISTORY AND ITS BUILDERS

branches of the grammar and primary grades. The school attendance was 8577, 2
the number of teachers fifty-seven, and the amount paid in salaries a little over
$28,000. 3

In the superintendent's report for 1858, Mr. Wells, in reviewing the work that
had been done and the deep interest taken by the men of the early school board,
said, "When in the far distant future the philosophic historian shall write the
history of our city; when the character and acts of successive generations shall
be weighed in the scales of impartial judgment; when material wealth shall be
regarded in its true light, as the means to an end; when social enjoyment and in-
tellectual cultivation and moral worth shall be rightly estimated as essential ele-
ments of prosperity, in every community then will the wisdom of those who have
Jaid the foundation of our public school system be held in grateful remembrance;
then will the names of Scammon and Brown, and Jones, and Miltimore, and
Mosely, and Foster, and their coadjutors, be honored as among the truest and
most worthy benefactors of Chicago."

The work of the city superintendent increased to such a volume that in 1859
a clerk was employed in his office. Samuel Hull filled this position for one year,
when he was succeeded by Shepherd Johnston, who held the position until his
death in 1894. Mr. Johnston wrote a careful, accurate sketch of the schools of
Chicago, carrying his history to the year 1879. Upon his report later writers on
the early schools of Chicago have largely depended, and to him the present writer
is indebted for much material about the schools prior to 1879. His historical sketch
is itself an expression of his orderly efficient methods of managing the affairs of
the office, in which he won the affection and high regard of those associated with
him.

The necessity for physical training was pointed out in the board of education
in 1859 by its president, Mr. Luther Haven, who urged the importance of a
sound mind in a sound body, and called attention to the fragile, unhealthy forms



Online LibraryJ. Seymour (Josiah Seymour) CurreyChicago: its history and its builders, a century of marvelous growth (Volume v.1) → online text (page 41 of 59)