Rules for Teachers

Spring has arrived and we at the museums are busy getting ready for our spring and summer events. One of these events is the annual visit from the Ada 3rd grade to the Beech Grove School located at the Hardin County Heritage Farm. Each year students come and learn what it was like to go to school in a one room school house. They do their lessons as children attending that school would and learn what life was like in the 1800s. Students use slates to write on as well as quill and ink. They play games such as marbles and Jack’s ladder and sing songs of the time period.

As we at the museum get ready for their visit, I was going through our information about the Beech Grove School. In our file, I came across a list of rules for teachers in 1872 and other from 1915. As I read through the list I realized how different the rules and expectations were for teachers during this time period from today. As a teacher, I laughed at some of these rules and thought about how the majority of them would never stick in today’s society. I found a large difference in the rules for female teachers as opposed to male teachers. Below are some of the more interesting rules and regulations that were expected to be followed by teachers.

1) Teachers each day will fill lamps, clean chimneys.
2) Men teachers may take one evening each week for courting purposes, or two evenings a week if they go to church regularly.
3) Women teachers who marry or engage in unseemly conduct will be dismissed.
4) Any teacher who smokes, uses liquor in any form, frequents pool or public halls, or gets shaved in a barber shop will give good reason to suspect his worth, intention, integrity and honesty.
5) After ten hours in school, the teachers may spend the remaining time reading the Bible or other goodly books
6) Every teacher should lay aside from each pay a goodly sum of his earnings for his benefit during his declining years so that he will not become a burden on society.
7) Women teachers are not to loiter downtown in ice cream parlors.
8) Women teachers are not to dress in bright colors.
9) Women teachers under no circumstances are to dye their hair.
10) Women teachers may not ride in a carriage or automobile with any man unless he is your father or brother.
11) The teacher who performs his labor faithfully and without fault for five years will be given an increase for twenty-five cents per week in his pay, providing the Board of Education approves.

These are just some of the rules given to teachers during this time period. What I found most intriguing was there were far more rules for women than men. The idea that a woman could be dismissed for getting married is such a foreign concept for those of us living today as women are encouraged to continue to work after marriage and having children.

If you are a teacher or homeschool parent and would be interested in bringing your students/children to spend a day at the Beech Grove School, please contact Linda or Sheena at the museum at 419-673-7147. We would love to have you visit us and experience a day in a one room school house.