Education in the 1800s

What was education like in the 1800s? DegreeGo takes a look at an old educational time line to give students a little bit of history about the college and education of the past; it puts into perspective the amazing advancements education has made up to today and how online degree programs really is an evolutionary step in how we learn.

1800: First private school for African Americans

After the legislature to extend public education to African American students failed, Prince Hall invited African American families to a private school in his home. The school moved to the African Meeting House on Beacon Hill in 1808.

1810: School districts grow in influence

Local tax money allows school districts to grow independently from the state.

1817 – First school of law opens

Harvard Law School refocuses on higher education by turning its orientation towards literature and classic languages.

1821 – First high school with free enrollment

Boston High School opens with free instruction in an English curriculum. Math, logic, science, and history are part of the professional, preparatory mission of the school.

1825 – First high school for girls

Boston opens the first high school for girls.

1827 – Education laws implemented

Legislation is passed so that towns with more than 500 families are required to provide public English high schools. This replaces the classical counterparts.

1829 – First school for the blind in America

Americans receive their first school for the blind: Perkins School for the Blind. Originally called the New England Asylum for the Blind, education extended to the disabled. Anne Sullivan and Helen Keller will both attend this school.

1830 – Explosion of population

The populace explodes as Boston grows from approximately 61,000 in 1830 to 362,000 in 1880.

1837 – First women’s college

Mary Lyons establishes Mount Holyoke Seminary for women. There are 120 colleges for men in the United States at this point and Harvard College is over 200 years old.

1837 – First United States Board of Education

During the first twelves years of the United States Board of Education, Horace Mann sets up a consensus doubling state funding to education and teaching salaries. Fifty new high schools are built thanks to this funding, along with formal teacher training programs and school libraries.

1839 – First state school for teachers

The first “Normal School,” a state operated teacher training program, accepts three young women. It is located in Lexington.

1848 – First graded elementary school

Boston’s Quincy Grammar School is the first public school that separates students into different grade levels.

1852 – School attendance goes into law

Prior to the Civil War, Massachusetts is the only state to require school attendance. Children between the ages of eight and fourteen must attend three months of school. While towns do not enforce the rule, it popularizes that learning is the new norm.

1861 – Civil War

The Civil War encourages change and rapid technical innovation, pushing education faster then the previous half century.

1867 – US Department of Education

The US Department of Education is established. It is meant to collect information on schools and teaching to help the States establish effective, individual school systems.

1873 – School year is extended

The school year expands to twenty weeks per year. State officers are hired to enforce attendance and towns are asked to comply.

1873 – Ellen Swallow Richards admitted to MIT

Ellen Swallow Richards is the first woman admitted to MIT and earn a science degree in America. She is denied a doctorate due to her gender and instead goes on to found the study of ecology. She applies chemistry and ecology to domestic life and establishes the study of “home economics.”

1892 – Pledge of Allegiance
In 1892, former clergyman Francis Bellamy authors the Pledge of Allegiance for a youth magazine published in Boston. In 1952 the phrase, “Under God,” is added by a federal act.

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