Back to School Time

September brings the end of the summer, which means the first taste of cooler weather and back to school time for kids and adults alike. Schools everywhere have evolved from small, rudimentary places which only a few were able to attend into large, high tech buildings and classes covering a variety of material for all students.

This picture of Tulsa’s first school building demonstrates what education looked like in the late 19th century. Children of all ages who were able went to the same ‘classroom’ to learn the basics of “readin’, writin’, and ‘rithmatic” often until 8th grade or so. Fortunate students could finish high school and a select few might even progress further.


Below is a 1903 picture of the Presbyterian Mission School with dozens of children pictured. In 1905 the school became Tulsa’s first High School. The building was located at 419 S. Boston on the corner of 4th and Boston; it was eventually replaced by the Pioneer Telephone Company. This photo comes from the Tulsa Area Historical Slides Collection, which covers a broad range of people and places in Tulsa’s early history; the collection was compiled by Dr. William Settle, professor of history at The University of Tulsa.


Education has long been a hot topic, as adults want the best education possible for their children; the question of who pays for that education has yet to be fully settled, however. This 1945 brochure boldly urged citizens to support their support local schools, not shying away from guilting the citizens into voting for a tax increase to benefit the Oklahoma school system. They contended that with more funding, Oklahoma students would fare better than their local counterparts, who were performing near the bottom of the rank. The brochure comes from our Oklahoma Collection, which is comprised of maps, photos, brochures, and other objects relating to 19th and 20th century Oklahoma history.



These collections and many more, which cover a broad range of local, national, and international topics, are available for you to come see in person. Visit us on the 5th floor of the McFarlin Library any time from 8:00-4:30 Monday through Friday.

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