On this day in 1903, the Weekly Banner noted the changes to the Clarke County school year gave it the distinction of being "the only county in the state of Georgia...that can boast of a system of rural schools of nine months term each year."
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Though the article comes across as more town bragging by the editors of the Banner, they were right that the nine-month school year was an outlier in American public education at the time.
In the early 1900s, children in the United States encountered school years that were typically 4-5 months long (officially 147.2 days as an average), and attendance was closer to 3-4 months (101.7 days were average) every year. The low attendance is likely a side effect of the expectation that children had to help support their family, either with planting, harvesting, or other areas of the family business.
Also announced in this article were the night schools established at two of the primary factories in town. These schools were aimed at children who worked at the factories (and often lived close by) to make it possible for them to gain a basic education despite the economic demands placed on them. Children who worked elsewhere, such as making harnesses or buggies or being apprenticed to a blacksmith or another trade, were also welcome at these evening classes.
The National Child Labor Committee, a group advocating for child labor restrictions, formed in 1904, but federal regulations and oversight would not be passed in the United States until 1938.
- Weekly Banner, Aug. 1902 - Dec. 1905 on Microfilm in the Heritage collection.
- Transition to an Industrial South by Michael Gagnon in the Heritage and general collections.
- History of the Princeton Factory and the Princeton Methodist Church by Horace G. Crouch in the Heritage collection.
- The New South: A Chronicle of Social and Industrial Evolution by Holland Thompson in the Heritage collection.
- The American Dream and the Public Schools by Jennifer Hochschild and Nathan Scovronick in the general collection.
- Possible Lives: The Promise of Public Education in America by Mike Rose in the general collection.
- The American Spirit in Education: A Chronicle of Great Teachers by Edwin E. Slosson in the general collection.
- Among Schoolchildren by Tracy Kidder in the general collection.
- Mother Jones and the March of the Mill Children by Penny Colman in the children's collection.
- Kids At Work: Lewis Hine and the Crusade Against Child Labor by Russell Friedman in the children's collection.
- Child Labor: An American History by Hugh D. Hindman via PINES.
- 120 Years of American Education: A Statistical Portrait (.pdf) by Thomas D. Snyder on the National Center for Education Statistics website.
- Child Labor Public Education Project website, part of the University of Iowa Labor Center.
- Georgia Child Labor Work Hour Restrictions website.