Are you smarter than a 10th grader?

On Monday, I took advantage of the Historical Society being closed for Columbus Day, to spread out in the reading room and process some nineteenth-century notebooks.  Most were from students, but I discovered one that belonged to a teacher.


The book was donated by Mary Hipple Vanderslice, herself a teacher, in 1953.  An accompanying letter explains that the notebook contains the tests given to tenth graders by the Montgomery County Superintendent of Schools.  The students of each township were tested together at a central site.  The notebooks belonged to Rachel A. Yerger of Linfield.


We’ll get to the questions in a minute, but first I wanted to find out more about Rachel A. Yerger.  The family file and our good old card catalog turned up nothing, so I tried HSMC’s newest resource – Ancestry.  Rachel appeared in the 1900 census, living with her father, sisters, and brother, and working as a teacher at the age of 25.  You can click on the image to enlarge it.


The notebook is divided into subjects, with different questions for different townships.  Rachel seems to have administered tests in Limerick, Upper Merion, and Upper Providence.  The questions are written in pencil, which can make them difficult to read, but here’s a page of physiology questions:


And here’s arithmetic and history:



So, how did you do?

Ursinus College

As parents prepare to send their children back to school, I thought it might interesting to look through some of the Historical Society of Montgomery County’s school related collection.   In our box of items from Ursinus College I found a bill for tuition from 1887.  Belonging to Jay Francis, he was apparently in the preparatory program, at $20 a semester or $40 a year.  In addition, he paid for a room.  With incidentals, the total bill came to $25.70.  How many minutes of a class would that pay for today?


Four years later, we can see that Jay Francis graduated with a B.A.

Ursinus grad

Ursinus was founded in 1869 and began admitting women in 1880.  From the above graduation program, it’s clear that the women received a different degree from the men.  The men’s B.A and B.S are familiar, but I haven’t discover what a B.L. is.  Literature? Liberal Arts?  If anyone knows, please share in the comments.