School records can be a great way to find out more about the community in which your ancestors lived. Some of the records you might find for educational establishments are: School Board minutes, log books, accounts, punishment books, admission registers, lists of pupils, photographs, timetables and staff appointments.
Here are some examples of the riches you can find in school log books. Log books were introduced in 1862 for all schools receiving grants, in the which “the principle teacher must daily make in the log book the briefest entry which will suffice to specify either ordinary progress, or whatever other fact concerning the school or its teachers, such as the dates of withdrawals, commencement of duty, cautions, illness etc, may require to be referred to at a future time, or may otherwise deserve to be recorded.”
The following are extracts from the school log books for the Infant School, Girls School and Boys School in Sawston, Cambridgeshire. Some entries give a real insight into life in the community:
07 Apr 1887 “Sidney Barker went home on Wednesday morning because he was afraid to pass the master’s dog, thereby losing his attendance.”
27 Jul 1888 “… Holiday given on account of the annual pea picking.”
01-04 Jan 1889 “Attendance very thin – sent to over 20 different homes to know reason of children being kept away – several were ill and others kept at home to mind little ones. Mrs Ellison answered…. rudely and said she did not know when she could send her daughter.”
07 Apr 1891 “The Infant School work could be done much better if the lessons were relieved by a (?) hour or 20 minutes recreation, both morning & afternoon, in a playground. Parents naturally object to 3 hours brain work, without any interval for young children. …”
19 Jun 1891 “… We have been able to give from the first time, a little out-door recreation to the children, as the playground is now finished.”
06 Sep 1893 “Sent Alfred Chapman, Hubert Osborne and Harry Holden home at 2 o’clock to be washed. The parents of the two former boys sent impertinent messages and refused to send the children back again.”
Others can give clues as to the movements of individual students and teaching staff:
05 Sep 1904 “… Edward Patterson and Cyril Cowling have been successful in gaining County Council Scholarships (Minor) and will proceed to the County School.”
21 Sep 1900 “… Winnie Cowling has been in the school this week with a view to becoming a candidate for PT [Pupil Teacher] if she shows aptitude.”
30 Nov 1900 “Miss Barker leaves to-day… I have every hope that Winnie Cowling will in time turn out to be a useful teacher & I should be glad if she could be appointed as monitress in this school.”
You can find some log books, along with admission registers, on Find My Past: National School Admission Registers & Log-Books 1870-1914.
Our course, Victorian and Edwardian Childhood and Education 1820s to 1920s, builds upon education records to consider childhood as a whole. The course explores childhood and education throughout the Victorian and Edwardian eras in England and Wales. It starts by considering the definition of childhood and the various social status influences on the childhood experience, such as wealth, gender and the differences between urban and rural living. You will learn about the influence of philanthropic and charitable organisations, that brought about social change by Acts of Parliament, laws and legislation, all of which ultimately led to improvements in the childhood experience and the provision of education for all.
By the end
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