School and Housework


What was school like for children in America during the 1800s? A bell, an inkwell, and an 1857 edition of McGuffey’s New Second Eclectic Reader shed some light on those days. During the 1800s in rural America, teachers rang school bells to summon students who were walking long distances to school. The noise of the bell gave students an idea of how close they were to their destination.

Quill pens and inkwells were how students would practice their penmanship. The quills would be regularly sharpened using a pen knife.

McGuffey’s Eclectic Readers were among the most popular 19th-century American schoolbooks. Teacher William Holmes McGuffey wrote his first reader in 1836 when thousands of immigrants were arriving. The texts included lessons on patriotism and helped to educate new arrivals about American culture.

Other School and Houseworking artifacts that can be found in the museum: antique sewing machine, spinning wheel, quilts, 19th century bedspreads, christening dresses, hooked rugs, samplers, basket collection, and weaving tools.

Other Houseworking Artifacts