A Unit of the Center for Appalachian Studies & Services at East Tennessee State University
Recently, we’ve cataloged several publications regarding education in Appalachia into our Special Collections, which is our permanent collection of books and other printed materials. These materials can be found by searching ETSU’s library catalog (accessible by clicking here). A few of these newly cataloged publications include the Annual Reports of the Public Schools of Washington County, Tennessee for 1912, 1913, and 1916.
1911 was a big year for Washington County as it was the year the State Normal School (now East Tennessee State University) opened in Johnson City. For the Washington County Public Schools, this meant that its current teachers could enroll in classes, better educate themselves, and pass on a stronger education to their students:
The following statistics reflect the total amount of schools in Washington County and how the schools were segregated in 1913:
The 1913 Annual Report primarily focused on improving schools in the county. Improvements, as noted in the following excerpt, included building more outhouses, repairing cisterns, and providing more water containers. In addition, most of the floors were “well oiled” to eliminate “germ-laden dust so detrimental to the health of both teacher and pupil.”
Despite these improvements, E.S. DePew, the County Superintendent, made a plea to the public for more funds. DePew lamented,
“But many of our schoolhouses are more poorly constructed and much less attractive than some men’s barns and smokehouses, and our teachers and children have as poor equipment with which to work as had the pioneer when he built his cabin in the shadow of the forest…A dozen [schoolhouses] that should have been covered will be left with leaky roofs. Some that should have been ground-walled will be left for the winter winds to sweep beneath. In many buildings the walls are bare and dingy, the paper is torn, the plaster is broken, the floor uneven, the heating unsatisfactory, the ventilation poor.”
To illustrate his point, the following image was included:
In addition to the annual reports, we have some photographs of Washington County students which date from 1913-1915. They can be found in the Mae Walker Collection.
Don’t the students look terribly elated to have their photograph taken?