A Second Home
Missouri's Early Schools
Publication Year: 2006
Published by: University of Missouri Press
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Title Page, Copyright
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Introduction: Children on the Frontier
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Children arriving in St. Louis in the early 1800s found strange sights and sounds everywhere in the small settlement on the west bank of the Mississippi River. Parents and children alike must have been amazed at the colorful crowds: a fur trader standing on the riverbank with his hair...
1. The First Schools in Upper Louisiana
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Many French settlers in the Upper Louisiana Territory— also known then as “the Illinois Country,” “Spanish Illinois,” or “Spanish Louisiana”—did not read or write. In France, working people learned through apprenticeships, a practice that continued in this new world. Formal schooling was considered...
2. The Missouri Territory
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As Upper Louisiana became the Missouri Territory, territorial leaders officially recognized the importance of providing a free school system. Although the plan was progressive in theory, putting it into practice at that time was not easy. With a small population spread out over thousands of acres...
3. A New State
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During the early 1800s, more Americans eagerly pressed westward each year, looking for a place to establish homes and put down roots. By 1820 the white population of the Missouri Territory had grown to almost sixty thousand, with the slave population at more than ten thousand, as pioneers...
4. The Rural Schoolhouse
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James Rooney was writing about his school in Texas, but his words ring true for children in Missouri who went to log-cabin schools. For most of the children in Missouri who lived...
5. The Rural Schoolteacher
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The Geyer Act of 1839 authorized the position of superintendent of common schools, and an 1853 law provided for county commissioners of common schools to set standards for teachers. They were expected to qualify in respect to character, learning, and ability for positions in the public...
6. The Scholars’ Day
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The child “scholars” often had to tend to chores before leaving for school. Sometimes older children helped dress and feed their younger brothers and sisters. When the chores were done, it was time to wash up under the pump or from a bucket of water, pack...
7. Tools of Learning
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The earliest schools had few supplies. Most learning tools were brought from home. Before paper was available, children wrote with charcoal on large pieces of birch-tree bark. Later, scholars used small individual slates and slate pencils, which were cylinders of rock. These...
8. The Slow Progress of Common Schools
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In 1840, less than 40 percent of those eligible attended public schools. W. B. Starke, the superintendent of common schools, reported during the years before the Civil War that more than one hundred thousand children in Missouri had no visible means of instruction. “The extreme apathy of the people in some...
9. Rebuilding Missouri’s School System “Without Regard to Color”
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In the years following the war, Missouri had a desperate need for both black and white teachers. Few African Americans had been trained or allowed to teach before the Civil War. During and after the war, white teachers had to take the “Iron- Clad Oath,” a loyalty oath affirming their innocence of...
10. A Gathering Place
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By the last decades of the nineteenth century, small-town and rural schools had become social centers for both black and white families in communities throughout the state. The door to the schoolhouse was open for many community events. The location was usually convenient for neighboring...
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About the Author
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Page Count: 157
Illustrations: 35 illus
Publication Year: 2006
Series Title: MISSOURI HERITAGE READERS
Series Editor Byline: John Smith, Will Wordsworth