Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Mysterious Record of 1860

Dusty Diary examined with great interest today an attendance sheet from an 1860 schoolhouse in Ann Arbor Township. (click for larger image).

The schoolhouse was located just north of Plymouth Road, more or less near the confluence between Green Rd. and Plymouth Rd.

Several interesting facts jump out from an examination of this document. First, the school year was November 7 to February 28. This implies the kids were needed throughout the harvest season and perhaps autumn hog-killing season.

You can see that the kids ranged in age from 4 (!) to 18. This schoolhouse was an all-in-one: elementary, middle school, and high school.

You can also see that attendance was at best spotty from week to week.

The kids were drawn from nearby farms in this section of the township. Despite all the "I had to walk 10 miles through snow uphill" mythology, it appears that no kid was more than a mile and a half from the school. On this map, the school is marked in purple and the neighboring farms contributing kids are marked in yellow.

You can see that the worst attendance was from Lily and Merrin Cook, who checked out after only 4 weeks of school. Why?

What else do you notice from this document? I'd be grateful for any reflections you had on it.


TeacherPatti said...

Ooooh, that's a short school year!! ;)
Sadly, I see much of the same sort of thing where I teach. That is, spotty attendance and kids just not showing up. :( The more things change....

Dusty D said...

Very short school year!--that really struck me too. Farm work was priority #1.

Yeah, attendance here on this sheet is indeed spotty at best. And this was the whole cannoli---kindergarten (note the one wee 4-year-old girl) through high school (note 17 and 18-year-olds), all in one building.

Several students have extended periods of absences, too, suggesting possible illness.

I would like to know the motivations for absences at this little school (I simply don't know why attendance is so poor here...)

Lisele said...

I'm struck by a couple things -- one, that 6 days per week was an option. School on Saturdays!

DD said...

Lisele: Yep, I wondered at that too. Guess they were trying to cram in as much school as possible during the non-harvest season.

But my mom went to school on Saturdays when she was growing up in Holland. Half day on Wednesdays and Saturdays. (And, like these kids, no busing).