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Classrooms

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

Classroom In An Aspen School

This is a photo of a classroom in the mining town of Aspen, which began as a mining town in the 1870's. The photo was taken about 1885.

Classroom In An Aspen School

Photo: Denver Public Library, Western History Collection

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The first school classrooms in Colorado mining towns looked like the one in this photo. Children sat at wooden desks, with two students per desk. The classrooms were heated by an iron stove sitting in the middle of the room.

Their Own Words

"The school seats were made of lumber, two pupils always in one seat, sitting on a bench. The blackboard was also made of boards painted a shiny black. We never went by grades at school; you were either in first or so on to the fifth reader, and to finish the fifth was to know all there was to know. I managed to finish it, but never got through fractions. The tears I have shed over arithmatic!"

 Source: Anne Ellis, Life of an Ordinary Woman (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1929, 1980): 50.

Classroom In a Silver Plume School

This photo was taken in a classroom at Silver Plume about 1905. The students are seated at desks lined up in rows.

Classroom In a Silver Plume School

Photo: Denver Public Library, Western History Collection

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The desks in this classroom are more “modern” than those in the previous photo. The wooden desk top is attached to sides made of iron.

Their Own Words

“The schoolroom contained desks and seats of various sizes, two long benches, a table and chair for the teacher, a table piled with books and a Coles Hot Blast heater in the center of the room. I paused a few moments as I looked around the room and thought with a thrill—this is my very own domain for the next eight months.”

Source: Elizabeth Aiken, “Garland School,” in Margaret J. Lehrer, ed., Up the Hemline (Colorado Springs, Williams and Field, 1975): 74.

Classroom In Leadville High School

The students in this photo were eighth grade students at Leadville High School. These students are attending a mathematics class.

Classroom In Leadville High School

Photo: Colorado Historical Society

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Small mining towns only had elementary schools. Only the larger mining towns like Leadville or Central City had high schools.

Their Own Words

 “The 1901 graduating class of the Leadville High School counted fifteen girls and four boys; for 1902 the figure was eight girls and six boys; for 1903, fourteen girls and one male. In 1904 more boys were present, the figures being twelve to seven, while in 1905 the girls shot ahead again—sixteen to four. In the writer’s class, that of 1906, there were eighteen girls and two boys. Boys left the High School before graduation, usually, to go to work in the mines and become breadwinners for their families. At the time, as the Superintendent so clearly and softly wrote, ‘Community ideas do not tend to the fostering of an educational spirit.’ This point is emphasized by the fact that from 1883 to 1894 there were only thirty-three graduates of the High School.” 

 Source: Ivan C. Crawford, “School Days in Leadville,” Colorado Magazine, 36 (July 1959): 224.