ERIC Number: ED409145
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1996
Reference Count: N/A
The Prairie Schoolhouse.
Campbell, John Martin
This book documents the history of the prairie schoolhouse through text and photographs. The prairie schoolhouse was a product of the Western Homestead Era, those years beginning late in the 19th century when the federally owned grass prairies east of the Rockies and the sagebrush country of the interior Northwest were opened to farming. Homesteading, the process whereby a citizen could acquire a piece of federal land, dates to a U.S. congressional act of 1862. The farmers who came to stake a claim on the prairies wanted their children to be educated. Thus, in regions of abundant homesteads, one-room schools were built every 2-4 miles, usually by the farmers themselves. A single teacher taught grades 1-8. The typical prairie schoolhouse was a simple rectangular structure with a pitched roof having a central ridge, either gabled at each end or hipped. The two major varieties of the prairie schoolhouse, the south and the north prairie styles, were determined largely by climate and the availability of construction materials. Regardless of variety, there were only minor differences in the size of the schoolroom itself and in its arrangement and furnishing. Although resources were scarce and most teachers were not educated beyond the eighth grade, prairie schoolhouses turned out hundreds of thousands of literate teenagers who became functioning members of mainstream U.S. society. The combined effects of the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl drove farmers from their land, and by the early 1950s more than 5 million prairie residents had abandoned their homesteads. Of the thousands of homestead schools that 80 years ago dotted the western prairies, nearly all have disappeared, and most of those remaining have fallen to ruin. The 60 photographs in this book document remains of prairie schoolhouses and homestead structures in Washington, Oregon, Montana, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Nebraska. Contains a bibliography. (LP)
Descriptors: Boards of Education, Educational Facilities Design, Educational History, Elementary Education, Farmers, Land Settlement, One Teacher Schools, Photographs, Rural Education, Rural Schools, School Buildings
University of New Mexico Press, 1720 Lomas Blvd., N.E., Albuquerque, NM 87131-1591 (cloth: ISBN-0-8263-1659-X, $60; paper: ISBN-0-8263-1660-3, $29.95).
Publication Type: Books; Historical Materials
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A