PORTRAIT OF A 1920 CLASSROOM IN BERWICK, PENNSYLVANIA

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This vintage photograph features a fourth grade class from a school in Berwick, Pennsylvania. I suggest to viewers that they put this photograph under magnification and be prepared for a trip back to a 1920 school classroom. I know that the students are in the fourth grade because it is written on the chalk board. The board also reveals that the teacher is named Miss Drake and that the date of the photograph was April 20th, 1920. There is a second teacher in the classroom. The class includes boys and girls. The kids dressed up for their portrait. The boys are wearing neck ties and the girls are also dressed up. Many of the girls have bows in their hair. Note the old style desks, the piled books, the American Flag, the Red Cross poster, and the old style calendar. It is particularly interesting to observe that all the seated children have their hands clasped and resting on their desk. Looks just like the discipline commonly seen in American schools today; or maybe not. The photographer of this image is the Lowry studio which was located in Berwick. The name of the studio is embossed on the bottom right hand corner of the mat. Mr. Lowry wrote an article in Abel’s Photography Weekly (1922) which attempts to answer the burning question “Is the Customer Always Right?”. Berwick is about 28 miles southwest of Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania. Among the town’s claims to fame is that it is the place where the Wise Potato Chip Company was founded in 1921.This photograph is from the post cabinet card era and it measures 10″ x 8″.

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Published in: on May 26, 2015 at 12:04 pm  Comments (2)  
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  1. What planet did this picture come from? Are those children sitting there with hands folded, neatly dressed and comported like civilized youth? – Are there classes on sex-related (no need to elaborate here!) topics, etc.? – This is from “Standard Arithmetic” for children used that year by this age group: “How many links are there in a rod? How many rods are there in an acre, and how many square chains are there in that acre?” – This, basic arithmetic for kids this age. – Many used this at home on their farm. – How many kids in this classroom refused to say the Pledge of Allegiance? – Each child probably treasured an opportunity to lead the class in the pledge. – – Once again, thanks to Cabinet Card. Those were typical children in a precious time for our country. (How many of the boys fought in WWII?) This photograph would be a delight to own! – Just a delight.

  2. Thank you for this photo–it sparks some good memories. No, I was not a student in 1920, but I attended a high school that was built in 1910, and although I entered as a freshman in 1970, the building always fascinated me, because it was untouched by time. The classrooms and desks were very similar to those above (complete with a hole in the top right corner for inkwells!)–the floors were not tiled but were of wood. Note the transom above the heavy wooden door on the left. I still remember my own teachers opening the transoms on a warm spring day, to achieve some cross-ventilation. No air conditioning in this school, even in 1970! My school was closed the following year, and I finished high school in a brand new building, but to tell the truth, I missed the old building, with its marble stairway, tall windows, wooden floors and the Rolls of Honor in the hallways listing those who had served in both world wars. Thanks again.


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