52 Ancestors Week 35 - Back to School

+9 votes

Week 35: Back to School
AJC - School has already started in many locations! Have you found your ancestor in any school records -- maybe a yearbook or a school census? Do you have a teacher in your family tree?

in The Tree House by Robynne Lozier G2G6 Pilot (635k points)
School in Canada starts later than the USA - not until after Labor Day - which is usually the first Monday of Sept.

School starts back on 4 Sept this year and that is now just 1 week away...

17 Answers

+9 votes
My maternal great grandmother Jeanie McCallum was listed in the school register for Waianiwa School in the County of Southland, New Zealand in the year 1897. Jeanie was born in 1892, which means she would have been 5 years of age at the time she started school.

These registers also list Jeanies brothers and sister as well.


Data for the School registers are held in the Invercargill City Public Library. Copies may be obtained for 20 cents per page.
by Robynne Lozier G2G6 Pilot (635k points)
Robynne, any McCallum relatives on the north end of the South Island? We met a McCallum (can't remember his name) when we were in Motueka 15 or so years ago. He knew the family at the home stay where we were staying and they had him come by. Our month in New Zealand was our best vacation ever.
It is quite possible Doug. I have no recent records of any McCallums in NZ and the death records I do have, dont say where they lived or died.
+9 votes
I have my mother's high school yearbooks and I have found some of my Canadian ancestors in school lists. My Great Aunt Ruby (Simpson) McCallum was the school teacher where she lived. The lived next door to the school. Still looking for more things like school lists since they build a great picture of the area.
by Doug McCallum G2G6 Pilot (332k points)
+10 votes
My mother, her sister, and my wife and her sister were all teachers. And I have found several relatives in yearbooks on Ancestry.

My mother has several members of her very first class of first grades who are still in touch with her. She began teaching in 1950.

Also, a cousin of mine found a school record from the late 1850s mentioning several relatives, including my g-grandmother, b. 1849.
by Pip Sheppard G2G Astronaut (1.5m points)
+7 votes

I have not managed to find any school records for anyone in my family, but I have a lot of ancestors and relatives who were school teachers, including a living cousin, who is not on wikitree.

My mother, Lois Gardner, was an excellent teacher, and it was a profession she loved. She told many stories about her teaching experiences, but one that always struck me most was early in her teaching career, so it was probably around 1954 or '55, in the Los Angeles basin. She said new teachers were often given difficult students that no one else wanted. She was given a 3rd grade class of students who were all non-readers. She soon discovered that only a few of them spoke any English. They were all Spanish-speaking. She had taken  Spanish in school, and so she translated the curriculum into Spanish, getting them up to grade level in math and science, and also taught them English (as a second language). It turned out that most of these students were really quite bright, and learned quickly when they could understand what was being taught. Halfway through the year, she started having her class challenge others in spelling bees, first challenging the lower grades, as her class was not yet up to grade level. She felt this would help to build self-confidence in her students. Her class would often win, and they moved up to challenging 2nd graders, then other 3rd grade classes. All the students were up to grade level by the end of the school year.

The principle was so impressed, he asked her to take the same students the next year. She agreed, and by the end of the 2nd year, when they were in 4th grade, they were all testing in the 5th and 6th grade level in all subjects. Another teacher accused her of cheating on the test, as racial bias made them think that the Hispanic children could not possibly do so well in school. She asked the principal to re-test the kids himself. He did, and it came out the same. However, he fired her, because they still couldn't believe it.

My father, Bill Gardner, was also a school teacher, teaching 5th and 6th grades in Santa Barbara, Calif. for about 5 years. He was reportedly a good teacher--I know one of his old students. He tired of teaching and changed profession after about 5 years.

My mother's father, Peter Stoner, taught math and astronomy at Pasadena High School, and Pasadena City College, from around 1913 until he retired. He was also head of the mathematics and physical science departments. He was involved in building the observatory on Mount Wilson. After he retired from teaching (in the mid 1950's) at PCC, he received a request from a friend to develop the math and science departments at a small Christian college--Westmont College--in Santa Barbara. He moved there, teaching there for a number of years, developing their curriculum, and building a small observatory. (Oops, I need to finish his bio!)

His brother, George Stoner, taught High School English, in Orange, California.

Their father, C. C. Stoner, taught grammar school in a small, rural one-room school-house in Kansas, for a few years.

My father's aunt, Alice Gardner, was an art teacher, in Colorado. She had a short career, as she died young, of appendicitis.

Her father, my great-grandfather, William Gardner, served as county Superintendent of Schools in Saguache county, Colorado.

His mother in law, Esther Eggleston, my great-great grandmother, taught grammar school for a time in Salida, Colorado.

by Alison Gardner G2G6 Mach 4 (49.6k points)
+7 votes

Laura (Perry) Schisler (1900-1978)  was a cousin and later a neighbor.  She was also a public school teacher most of her life in country schools in Shiawassee County, Michigan.  She married in her early thirties and after her husband died leaving her with small children, she went back to teaching.  In the early 1960's she took on tutoring me over the summer when I was in danger of failing first grade (I had been sick a lot that year).  Later, when we lived across the road from her and she had retired, she was a listening ear to my troubles.  I remember her as a very no-nonsense, slightly stern person which was probably needed to take charge of a one-room school.

by Jill Perry G2G6 Mach 3 (33.1k points)
+8 votes


For 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Week 35, I choose Lottie Irene Hess Chipman.

I am sharing a picture of Lottie with some of her fellow 1906 graduates. She was born on 8-8-1888. It would have added interest if this was Week 38 challenge.

Lottie was a beautiful young lady in high school. Her father was the owner of the only lumber and coal dealer in town, and they were highly respected citizens. One of the earliest families to arrive in Momence.

Lottie was a public school teacher at the same school that she graduated from. She was a beloved teacher. She was also an active member of her church, The Woman's Relief Corps, and The Mother's of World War II.

When she died, she was honored by many of her former students. This is the reason that I choose Lottie as my pick for Back to School - week 35!

by Cheryl Hess G2G6 Pilot (925k points)
+5 votes
Mine is Abraham Fine and his profile is https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Fine-249

 In 1948 Abraham probably taught at May's school according to record's at Cherokee Baptist Church.
by Linda Barnett G2G6 Pilot (410k points)
edited by Linda Barnett
+7 votes
I am not aware of any teachers in ancestry, I do have a story about a school record.  About six months ago my husband brought home a book he bought from a garage sales for a couple of bucks, It's title The Boston Cooking-School Cook book by Fannie Merritt Farmer, the book had Three  inscriptions inside, the first name was the original owner, and the other two were not related - so we must be the fourth (at least) to own the book.  As I went through the book, I found paper cuttings and a School record ( I think it was around 1920's) for the original owner, fortunately on the school record it contain her home address in Alberta, Canada.  I was then on a mission to find one of her ancestors so I could forward these important documents.I researched the town and her maiden name, and found a marriage record, then I researched the death records and found family names.  The surnames were not common names, so it only took a couple hours and I found her great grand daughter (via facebook) contacted her and asked if she wanted the documents and promptly posted them off to her.
by Beryl Worrall G2G Crew (410 points)
Good for you to go the extra mile.  I'm sure it was very appreciated by
her family to find information from that far back in time.  Those records are so rare in many cases.
+6 votes

I've seen my parents' yearbook photos. I've also seen my grandma Ollie's picture as well from the Haverhill High yearbook. It's also in Ancestry somewhere. I should download it. A few cousins put it in trees.

I've also seen my other grandparents' yearbook photos and I think that's about it.

My sister-in-law is a college professor at James Madison University. So, that counts. =D

Edit: https://www.wikitree.com/photo/png/Carrabs-2

That wasn't hard.....

And my 2x great-grandfather, Eugene Hamel, was a teacher.

by Chris Ferraiolo G2G6 Pilot (256k points)
edited by Chris Ferraiolo
+6 votes
I just found my mother in her high school yearbooks (The Conch) on Ancestry.  It shows her with her classmates standing outside the school.  Below the photo is a list of all the kids in the class as well as the teacher's name and class president, etc.  I found her for the years 1938,1940 and 1941. I had a little trouble picking her out in the earlier two photos, but went straight for her in the 1941 photo.  That photo shows her looking pretty much like the photo I put on her profile page.

by Carolyn Martin G2G6 Pilot (142k points)
+6 votes

I wrote about my 5th great grandfather. He was a tenant farmer with lots of children living in a small cottage on Scotland. Even though he had a modest income, he had a teacher live with the family full time to give them a proper education. His children went on to higher education, becoming doctors, a lawyer, and other professions.  Blog post for the week is here: http://www.libbyonthelabel.ca/2018/09/52-ancestors-week-35-back-to-school.html#.W4za2t0sras.link

+5 votes

William Alexander Penny (1878 - 1914) https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Penny-1199

Treasurer Penny & Gentles Dry Goods 
Education: Graduated Smith Academy St. Louis 1897 went to Yale graduated BA 1901.  https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=mdp.39015075925001;view=1up;seq=190
William is my 2nd cousin 3 times removed.

by Laura Bozzay G2G6 Pilot (550k points)
+6 votes
My mother Freda (Pilcher) Gunn (1924 - 1975) (  https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Pilcher-358 ) was an elementary/infant school teacher.

Her father was a London bus driver, and her mother had been a cook in various stately homes before she married in her 30s.  Freda did very well in school, and, at age 11, won a scholarship to grammar school.  But her parents said "If there is another depression, what good will math and Latin do you?  If you have a trade, you will always be able to find a job."  So she went to trade school to learn to be a dressmaker, and was out earning her living at age 14 (1938).

The next thing that happened was W W II.  First they started rationing women's clothes, so she switched to children's clothes.  Then they started rationing children's clothes.  So much for " you will always be able to find a job."

She signed up for war work, electronics (later shown to be assembling RADAR (RAdio Direction and Ranging) units).

During the War, many children were evacuated to the country, resulting  in overcrowded schools, and a new teaching style (now called "open classroom") for dealing with it.  At the end of the war, there was a drastic shortage of teachers, because so many had been killed.  The government started an emergency teacher training program to produce more teachers.  Unlike previous programs (which required a grammar school education), THIS program was open to anyone who could pass the entrance exam.

She worked as a teacher (in England) until I was born in 1954.  Then she started substitute teaching (in New York) about 1963, and teaching full time in 1965.  Her English teaching certificate was not recognized by New York State, so she was taking additional courses to get a New York teaching license.  But in the end she went to teach at a private school (Bedford Rippowam, in Bedford NY), which did not require a teaching license.

She then went to work for Long Ridge School in Stamford, CT, which particularly wanted her for her "open classroom" skills.  She continued t teach there until about a year before she died in 1975.
by Janet Gunn G2G6 Mach 6 (66.2k points)
+3 votes

Took me a while to find this one (so many relatives, it's hard to recall which ones had specific occupations!)

Anyway, John Smith was an assistant school master to Mr. H. Marlan who owned the Dane John Academy in Watling Street, Canterbury, Kent which was established in 1791.

John took over the School from Mr. Marlan in January 1844 and ran the school for 30 years until he sold it to William Claris in 1874, five years before he died. 

John only had 3 children, his only daughter married Jean Petit from Paris, and moved to Paris after her marriage in 1879. 

Eldest son Edward died in 1874 unmarried.

Youngest son Alfred married in 1873 to Mary Claris, probably the niece of William Claris. He only had one son Archibald Claris Smith who didn't appear to have had any children.

As Alfred was also a teacher prior to his marriage, I was surprised he didn't take over the school, but I guess he was rich enough that he didn't need to work and preferred to live as a gentleman. After the death of his wife Mary he lived with his servant as if they were married. His son Archibald also married the housekeeper (not the same one!)

by Michelle Wilkes G2G6 Pilot (113k points)
+3 votes

Gotta do my Grandma Bruce for this one. She was a school teacher when my dad was young, so by the time he entered the 1-room schoolhouse, he knew his numbers and how to read (maybe even how to write). The first day, he was on the first bench (aka 1st grade). The second day, he was on the second bench. The third day, third & fourth day, fourth. Where he misspelled a word and was sent back to third grade (he remembered the word, and I'm sure I have it in my notes somewhere; I think it was field, but I can't be sure until I find my notes).

Anyway, Dad went on to Carr Central Highschool & was set to graduate at 16, but Grandma wanted him to stay another year, so he took a year of electives. One was typing, which he later said was the most useful skill he ever learned. World War II interrupted his college career, but he came back safe and finished.

The subject of this week's challenge, however, is my Grandma Bruce (Bruce was the surname of her second husband). She was a wonderful, vibrant woman and had returned to school in her 80s (but passed away before she could complete her degree).  I miss her. At Christmas especially (and since I'm far behind on the Challenge, it's just 7 days till Christmas now!).

by Liz Shifflett G2G6 Pilot (339k points)
+2 votes
My Aunt Marian https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Sands-2171 often talked about the one room school that she attended. We would ride by and she would point out the building. This school has now been moved to Veteran's Memorial Park at Gillie Lake on Sands Road in the town of Camillus and restored as a museum. https://www.townofcamillus.com/default.aspx?PageID=861 I have fond memories when I ride past the farm where she grew up (on Sands Road) and get to visit the old school house.
by Kay Sands G2G6 Pilot (236k points)
+2 votes
I found my grandfather's and grandmother's adult report card on the languages of Yoruba and Hausa - one did better in one, the other in the other.  They were meant to be together
by Lloyd de Vere Hunt G2G6 Mach 1 (16.9k points)

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