Earlier today, our hardworking volunteer and board member, Ed Ziegler asked me about a wrapped package sitting on a table in our stacks. The brown paper was marked “East Norriton School.” It turned out to be two minute books from the Norriton and then the East Norriton School District. They came into our collection in 1948.
The first volume covers the years 1892 till 1902. It opens with several meetings concerning how the school district would mark Columbus Day (1892 would have been the 400th anniversary of Columbus’s landing in the New World). Most of the meetings concerned purchasing books, building maintenance, and the annual examination of graduates.
Every now and then, something more interesting comes along. In 1893 there is an expenditure for the purpose of replacing a stolen dictionary. Also in 1893, the board decided that each school should get a “water closet.” At a later meeting (1898), steps are taken to prevent the abuse of the water closets by the students.
The grades of the graduating class are recorded for each year. Here’s one of them:
This is typical of all the years in the first volume. The class is overwhelmingly female and the highest grade is is a B+. The highest average I saw was 92 in the first volume. A note in the minutes from a meeting on May 30, 1896 says that student with an average above 70 were to be promoted.
Occasionally, the board got involved in discipline. At the beginning of 1897, the board investigated “the trouble existing between the assistant teacher Anson Moser and a pupil John Staddon.” The board interviewed the older students in the classroom and determined that John was a “trying pupil.” The minutes note that Moser used “capitol punishment” (presumably they mean “corporal”) which he was not permitted to do as an assistant teacher and demanded an apology.
A few diphtheria cases closed one of the schools in 1899. This led to the school board applying to Norriton Township to act in the capacity of the board of health. A sanitary agent was soon hired to regularly look the children over for disease. After that, there are regular reports of various disease outbreaks.
One thing that hasn’t changed (at least for many schools) is that the district never seemed to have enough money.
The second volume covers the new East Norriton school district from 1909 until 1920. More on that one next week.