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Classrooms

What do these photos tell you about how classrooms were like inside?

One Room Log Classroom

This photo was taken inside a log school house in Colorado. The log wall behind the students is decorated with pictures of women dressed in stylish clothes.

One Room Log Classroom

Photo: Denver Public Library, Western History Collection

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In the first classrooms in Colorado, children sat at wooden benches or at desks made of wood and iron. The seats were nearly always lined up in rows. The teacher’s desk was usually at the front of the classroom.

Their Own Words

"There were about twelve pupils. We sat in high straight benches that a carpenter had made. They were much too high and our feet seldom touched the floor. At class time we recited from a big long bench up near the teacher's desk."

Source: Mrs. Jennie Lucas (1941), "Pioneer Education," WPA, Box 5, Denver Public Library.

A Fort Lupton Classroom

This photo shows the interior of a classroom in Fort Lupton, Colorado. It shows children sitting in separate desks. The photo was taken about the year 1900.

A Fort Lupton Classroom

Photo: Denver Public Library, Western History Collection

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In small communities, all the children used the same classroom. Larger towns like Fort Lupton could afford to build schools with several rooms. That does not mean that students the same age had their own classroom. This elementary school probably had four or five classrooms in which students were clustered by age.

Their Own Words

"When I was six my folks decided I should go to school. This all ended quite tragically as the teacher didn’t tell me about the sanitary arrangements which were about 100 feet back of the school house. So I ate my lunch at recess, wet my pants before noon, then walked home in sheer embarrassment and didn’t go to school again at Fine Flats."

Source: William T. Holland testimonial in Roleta D. Teal, Kiowa County (Kiowa Co. Bicentennial Commission, 1976): 185

An Elementary School Classroom

This is another classroom in Fort Lupton. In front of the blackboard are twenty-eight students and two teachers. The room was heated by a coal-burning stove.

An Elementary School Classroom

Photo: Denver Public Library, Western History Collection

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In this classroom, students also were clustered by age. The youngest appear to be 4 or 5 years old, the oldest 6 or 7. This community was not yet large enough to have a separate classroom for each age or grade level.

Their Own Words

"During the winter of 1887, school was held in a little one-story, one-room building, and one of the popular entertainments during that winter was a spelling school which was always held on Friday night and which not only the school children, but the entire population in and around Springfield attended. They chose up sides, getting everybody into the game."

Source: A. W. McHendrie, "Boyhood Recollections of Springfield, Colorado," Colorado Magazine, 11 (May 1944): 99.