In spite of the Civil War, or maybe because of it, education in Lowell was treated basically the same during and after the war. There was love of the written word, testing to get into the High School, and a reliance on the Classics. Many students came from Tewksbury trying to get into LHS, which was the most urban setting. The war robbed over 500 men their lives, but the attitude was to keep their memory alive in the Lowell City Library, which was the oldest library of its type in the world. The Boston Public Library claims to be the oldest of its kind, but they opened in 1849 and Lowell opened in 1844. There is a five year difference there.
We already did the post on the 1870’s, so we are backpedaling a little. We are covering the time after the war. Incidentally, nowhere in the School Committee Minutes is there reference to the war. Lowell’s attitude was that the war was over and it was time to take over managing the schools and making them the best in the Commonwealth. That was not formally stated, just implied. But, it was there.
To maintain this thrust, there were the then standard thirteen members of the board. On January 1, 1866, the School Committee adopted a report prepared in 1865 on the condition of the schools. The thirteen members voted to accept the report. They listed the Standing Committees, which were:
On Reports – a Committee that the Chairman wanted to get out of it. Motion denied.
The School Committee voted to accept the resignation of Miss Brady, who got married and therefore could not be a teacher anymore. Elizabeth B. Russell was nominated and a motion voted to accept her.
Grading was an issue. It was determined that the Subcommittee authorized that the Superintendent, “In accordance with the Superintendent’s suggestion.” That battle opened up grades instead of the lengthy reports that preceded the use of grading in the classroom. I wrote about the use of grades and its effect on the classroom in a prior blog.
There was another motion to allow teachers to take a day and visit another school for a full day. The plan was to share the best educational practices, and I believe it was unique to Lowell. Specifically it said:
“With the consent of the School Committee, teachers could observe
their same grade in other City schools. They could close down, once a
year, and visit another city school.” (Minutes of the School Committee, 1866).
On 1/1/66, A.J. Phipps was name Superintendent and Secretary. One of the first things he did was pass a vote to have all teaching candidates adhere to taking a yearly test for certification. The Motion carried, at a later date, 1/29/1866.
An open meeting listed the amount of money each teacher would receive. Yearly amounts for a standard four teachers were as follows:
“Salaries: $153.25 to Nellie Hunt
$145.70 to Elizabeth McDaniels
$141.95 to Sarah Elizabeth French
$135.55 to Sarah Crosby
At sometime in this year, they built the Kirk Street School, which still stands, although it is no longer used for education.
At the meeting on March 26, 1866, Mr. Warren, of the School Committee tried to push through an amendment to salaries that “all having a ranking of 105 and upward receive certificates.” While it sounds reasonable, it was defeated. Then Mr. Kimball moved that it be a policy that everyone with a score of 110 or higher be receivers of certificates. Once again, the School Committee said no. The Board eventually voted by individual teacher, a time-consuming process, and hired many teachers back. On that day, however, only three teachers were renewed. (Ibid.)
There was a census of students in school, by Ward, and it found that then Ward Five had the highest number of “scholars.” It had 1305 students. The total population of the entire school system yielded a total of 5,978 “Scholars.” That was the word they used to describe students. That was 853 more students than in 1865, and 1,049 more than in 1864. Lowell was maturing.
The School Committee made the standard for admission for Lowell High School to be a standardized test. A number of outside scholars were accepted, with a fee, and they started at LHS.
The LHS Principal, not called the Headmaster yet, was Charles C. Chase. He had four assistant administrators, two female, two male. We had many women in administration. Some of the original 57 schools were closed down and five principals were dismissed. There were forty-eight schools still open in the city.
Lowell was being reborn. The cotton mills were filled with bales of cotton. One bale weighed seven hundred pounds and can be seen at the Tsongas Museum. Check it out, it is unbelievable that they were able to move this much cotton with the tools of the day. On August 27, 1866 there were a number of changes that I will write about in the next blog. Remember, it is JimPetersblog.com.