This Is What School Pictures Looked Like 75 Years Ago
Getting every student in the class to look at the camera and smile has always been a challenge.
Short is better
Wilma Godsey (front row, second from right), then known as Wilma Jean Rickabaugh, wished for a shorter name in first grade. She’s shown with her schoolmates in 1936.
Faye Bertram (front, left) attended Turtle Butte High School in rural South Dakota in the 1940s. Also, check out what it was like living in Edmonton in the 1940s.
Bands and dancing
This Wisconsin school had 47 pupils in 1929. Students participated in unique activities like forming a harmonica band and square dancing at the county fair.
“We were all-American kids, in sixth grade at Stanley Hall High School in Evansville, Indiana, in 1963,” says Rev. David M. Poland.
Dressed up in overalls
“We all wore our best clothes for this school picture taken in 1934 at the Bartlett Consolidated School in Bartlett, Iowa,” says Keith Eyler (first row, third from left). “Overalls were the clothing of choice. While they fit all right, school shoes were always two sizes too big so our feet could grow into them.”
When Phil Feinberg started first grade in 1953 in Hamilton Township, New Jersey, there were too many children in his classroom. He was offered a chance to transfer to Mrs. Albert’s class and he readily agreed because he thought she looked like Snow White.
In the 1930s, Albert Schantz (back row, far right) had a caring teacher, Charles Berger, whose kindness and teaching skills are still remembered.
Can you pass this quiz of 4th grade science questions?
Catching up after moves
Despite wartime moves, one teacher worked hard to help Ruth Davis (front row, second from right) and other students bring their education up to date in St. Petersburg, Florida, during the early 1940s.
In 1929, William Loechel was interested in trains while attending kindergarten in Baltimore, Maryland, so his teacher, Miss Cronin, helped him make one.
These gorgeous railway photos will spark your inner train spotter.
“I liked my second-grade teacher in Shelton, Nebraska, because she always had us do unusual things,” says Bob Masse, now of Alhambra, California. “Once she brought in a pint jar of cream from the farm and had each of us shake the jar until the cream turned to butter. Then she buttered soda crackers so each of us could have a taste.”
Smile for the camera
In September 1945, Doris Christensen was excited about going to school—until she got there. In this first-grade picture in Safford, Arizona, she’s in the back row, third from the right.
From 1937 to 1939, Casey Phelps’ school bus picked up farm kids in Badger, South Dakota, and took them to Arlington High School. Casey, a World War I veteran, was the bus owner and driver.
Check out these everyday things that were actually designed for WWI.
“I vividly remember being a seven-year-old attending the country school about a mile from our farm in the tiny rural town of Passport in southern Illinois,” says Evelyn Cochran. She attended the school from 1915 to 1923. In this third-grade picture, Evelyn is in the back row, third from right.
Homer Crouch (front row, second from left) made some spending money by trapping skunks on the way to school in the 1930s. He attended a one-room school in Oklahoma during the Depression years.
Read more about what life was like during the Great Depression.
School by boat
Carol Smith (back row, second from left) got to school in Coos Bay, Oregon, by boat in 1933. Sometimes students jumped ship and raced to the next landing for fun. If they lost, it was a long walk home.
Little red schoolhouse
The little red schoolhouse still stands where Shirley Torrey Campbell (third from right in the back row) attended back in 1931. The school was in a section of Groveland, Massachusetts, called Saveryville.
Find out what it was like living in Saskatchewan in the 1930s.
Back in the 1940s, when Rudy Gavurnik and seven other students attended school in an unusual octagon-shaped building in Skaneateles, New York, the joke was that when they all misbehaved at once, the teacher had a corner for each student to stand in.
Playing the flute
Back in 1954, all the students in Mrs. Brown’s third-grade class in Savage, Maryland, learned to play the flute.
Read the heartwarming story of what a country Christmas was like in the 1950s.
As a new teacher, Marion Weekly got an excellent grade from her supervisor. This is a picture of her first class in 1942.
Teacher at recess
Teacher Marjorie Eitel was barely taller than her students in 1946 at the Banner School in Adair County, Missouri. She played games with them at recess.
As a fourth-generation teacher, Marilyn Byerley (back row, far right) thought she was well-prepared for her first day of teaching first grade in 1959 at Shoregate School in Willowick, Ohio. But a terrified child was not in her lesson plan.
Don’t miss these glamorous vintage photos of life in the 1950s.
Terry Curtis (first row, third from left) has a typical red-haired freckle-faced grin in this class picture from 1951 in Jacksonville, Texas. He may be shoeless because he got his shoes wet during lunchtime work in the cafeteria.
Mining community school
Haskel McInturf (front row, second from right) and his brother Leo (front row, centre), are shown in this 1938 photo at Morris Ravine School, a one-room building in a small mining community north of Oroville, California.
Oliver Glanzman attended the Gilman Valley one-room country school in Gilmanton, Wisconsin, in 1932.
Supporting the war effort
In 1942 in Edmonds, Washington, first-graders and their families saved cooking fat, string, scrap metal, and even hair to support the war effort. Doris Pollack (second row, third from right) remembers bringing dimes to school to buy savings stamps that became bonds.
Wilson St. School
This photo from Wilson St. School in Etna, Pennsylvania, captured the 1939-40 third-grade class. Anna Mae Michalowski is in the front row, second from right.
Going into politics
At least two members of this 1941 eighth-grade graduating class at South School in North Chicago, Illinois, went into politics, says Elaine (Manzke) Eagon. One served as a North Chicago alderman and another in the Illinois General Assembly.
Myra Bradwell School
“This picture, taken in 1936, shows my second-grade class at Myra Bradwell School on the south side of Chicago,” says Marilyn Blake Vander Geest. “I’m fourth from the right in the back row.”
64 kids in class
“Sister Antonina was my teacher at Our Lady of Lourdes in Brooklyn, New York,” says Angela Beetz. “There were 64 kids in our class of 1953. The room was actually double the size of what you see here. I’m in the third row, second from right.”
“As a kindergartener at Franklin School in Wichita, Kansas, in 1930, we made birdhouses as a class project,” says June Kennedy. “I’m the girl in the front row with my hand on my face. The effects of the Depression were all around us, but we found simple ways to have fun.”
These hilarious yearbook quotes will make you crack up.
“At our elementary school in Houma, Louisiana, students were assigned to classrooms alphabetically by last name,” says Herman Domangue. “The only exceptions were the members of the band. Only four bands received a ‘superior’ rating at competition, and we were one of them. This photo was taken in 1955.”
Collecting milkweed pods
“During World War II, country schools throughout Iowa collected milkweed pods so the silks could be used to make parachutes and life jackets,” says Edna Small. “In 1944, Otter Creek School was a runner up in the state for collecting 130 sacks of the pods. As the only girl in Mrs. Plumb’s class, I had to be a tomboy to keep up with the others!”
Next, check out these hilarious school stories from across Canada.