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Kansas 1895 Grade 8 Graduation!!

Sunday, August 09, 2020

My sister shared this with me. Some of our immediate ancestors -- prior to our parents -- had grade 8 "only"! Our great grandparents, both our grandfathers and one of our grandmothers -- grade 8 if that.

The other grandmother, for whom I'm named, actually completed high school and taught in a one room grades 1-8 school house. That was then a huge achievement!!

My mother, who skipped twice, started high school at age 11 (when she was still in Brownies!!) and was able to complete one year of post-secondary teachers' college ( "normal school" ) -- achieving more formal education than any of her 9 brothers and sisters. She also taught in such one room school houses. Until she married: married ladies weren't permitted to teach! Nor in the 50s was she deemed welcome with "normal school" only to join the local "university women's club" -- although she completed the cryptic crossword daily. In ink. Before breakfast!!

My father also skipped twice and went off to high school at age 11, which for him required taking the train from his small home village to the "big city" and boarding Sunday night through Thursday night. He too started one-room school house teaching after "normal school" but later completed a B.A. and a B.Ed. through extension and summer courses. That made it possible for him to become first a principal and than a school inspector.

But . . . many, many people had just grade eight. "Just". However -- this is what it took to get an 8th grade education in 1895... at least in Kansas. I imagine the requirements would have had comparable rigour in late 19th century Ontario!

This eighth grade final exam was taken from the original document on file at the Smokey Valley Genealogical Society and Library in Salina and reprinted by the Salina Journal.

8th Grade Final Exam: Salina , KS - 1895

Grammar (Time, one hour)
1. Give nine rules for the use of capital letters.
2. Name the parts of speech and define those that have no modifications.
3. Define verse, stanza and paragraph
4. What are the principal parts of a verb? Give principal parts of 'lie,''play,' and 'run.'
5. Define case; illustrate each case.
6 What is punctuation? Give rules for principal marks of punctuation.
7 - 10. Write a composition of about 150 words and show therein that you understand the practical use of the rules of grammar.

Arithmetic (Time,1 hour 15 minutes)
1. Name and define the Fundamental Rules of Arithmetic.
2. A wagon box is 2 ft. Deep, 10 feet long, and 3 ft. Wide. How many bushels of wheat will it hold?
3. If a load of wheat weighs 3,942 lbs., what is it worth at 50cts/bushel, deducting 1,050 lbs.

For tare?
4. District No 33 has a valuation of $35,000.. What is the necessary levy to carry on a school seven months at $50 per month, and have $104 for incidentals?
5. Find the cost of 6,720 lbs. Coal at $6.00 per ton.
6. Find the interest of $512.60 for 8 months and 18 days at 7 percent.
7. What is the cost of 40 boards 12 inches wide and 16 ft. Long at $20 per metre?
8. Find bank discount on $300 for 90 days (no grace) at 10 percent.
9. What is the cost of a square farm at $15 per acre, the distance of which is 640 rods?
10. Write a Bank Check, a Promissory Note, and a Receipt.

U.S. History (Time, 45 minutes)
1. Give the epochs into which U.S. History is divided
2. Give an account of the discovery of America by Columbus
3. Relate the causes and results of the Revolutionary War.
4. Show the territorial growth of the United States
5. Tell what you can of the history of Kansas
6. Describe three of the most prominent battles of the Rebellion.
7. Who were the following: Morse, Whitney, Fulton , Bell , Lincoln , Penn, and Howe?
8. Name events connected with the following dates: 1607, 1620, 1800, 1849, 1865.

Orthography (Time, one hour)
[Do we even know what this is??]
1. What is meant by the following: alphabet, phonetic, orthography, etymology, syllabication
2. What are elementary sounds? How classified?
3. What are the following, and give examples of each: trigraph, subvocals, diphthong, cognate letters, linguals
4. Give four substitutes for caret 'u.' (HUH?)
5. Give two rules for spelling words with final 'e.' Name two exceptions under each rule.
6. Give two uses of silent letters in spelling. Illustrate each.
7. Define the following prefixes and use in connection with a word: bi, dis-mis, pre, semi, post, non, inter, mono, sup.
8. Mark diacritically and divide into syllables the following, and name the sign that indicates the sound: card, ball, mercy, sir, odd, cell, rise, blood, fare, last.
9. Use the following correctly in sentences: cite, site, sight, fane, fain, feign, vane , vain, vein, raze, raise, rays.
10. Write 10 words frequently mispronounced and indicate pronunciation by use of diacritical marks and by syllabication.

Geography (Time, one hour)
1 What is climate? Upon what does climate depend?
2. How do you account for the extremes of climate in Kansas ?
3. Of what use are rivers? Of what use is the ocean?
4. Describe the mountains of North America
5. Name and describe the following: Monrovia, Odessa, Denver, Manitoba, Hecla, Yukon, St. Helena, Juan Fernandez, Aspinwall and Orinoco
6. Name and locate the principal trade centers of the U.S. Name all the republics of Europe and give the capital of each..
8. Why is the Atlantic Coast colder than the Pacific in the same latitude?
9. Describe the process by which the water of the ocean returns to the sources of rivers.
10. Describe the movements of the earth. Give the inclination of the earth.

Notice that the exam took FIVE HOURS to complete.

Would I be able to pass that five hour exam? Uh, no. I don't think so.

I also note: most of those with "just" grade 8 education had acquired clear, legible and elegant handwriting, using straight pens and ink bottles, no blots!! The majority of kids now can double thumb on their phones at lightening speed: but many can't either read or write "cursive" script. (Or tell the time on a non-digital time piece!!)

Oh yeah. Maybe we pride ourselves on our advanced "education" -- but without having learned a whole lot more than those of our ancestors who enjoyed many fewer opportunities?? Who went to work in their early teens, contributed their wages to the support of their households, worked long years. And who uncomplainingly paid the taxes to support the school systems which benefited us.

Certainly, I never underestimated the intelligence, the general knowledge OR the wisdom of my "elderly" clients who told me that they "just" had grade eight!!.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I worked with many a folks who could not complete their travel expense reports but had a PhD.

    "Smarts" comes in all shapes and sizes.
    36 days ago
  • no profile photo NYLAURA1
    Thanks for posting this exam. It's very interesting to read the stories of what education used to be.
    40 days ago
  • no profile photo INCH_BY_INCH
    emoticon emoticon
    42 days ago
  • NANCY-
    When someone says "just" or "only" I do not put much stock in it. Like "Just" a housewife, they are always so much more.
    42 days ago
  • FLYER99
    That exam is way harder than current day exams. I don't think I could pass it at all. Neither my Mom nor Dad graduated high school as they both had to look after their parents and family. Dad's father passed when he was 12 and Mom had to look after 8 siblings as her father worked 12-14 hours a day and her mother was always sick. I was lucky.
    42 days ago
    Definitely why we shouldn't judge the past by our standards and nomenclature.

    And thanks for the bloglove on my reunion post. The thread of connection is getting tenuous. Among the (grand) children of my son's generation there are fewer and fewer who want to gather and those (grand) children in my DH's generation are growing fewer and fewer. But we'll carry on a while longer and when it ends there will be a written legacy for future generations.

    And now - time for those cricket song meteor shower nights of August.
    42 days ago
    Wow I'd be sitting in the corner I think :).

    My Dad went to Standard six in Lincolnshire England, his Dad died and he went to work on the weekends at a farm, he was eleven when he started... going to school during the week and taking care of his Mum in the second world war. The farmer told him if he worked this hard all his life he would go far. He became a Fitter and Turner, moved to New Zealand after the War as a 'ten pound pom', built his own home. He saved for many years to pay for his Mum to go over. He met and married Mum, had three children and also looked after Mum's son. He got in the local paper for his amazing plans to up grade the Board mill where he worked. A great Dad what ever his education.

    Hubby says to say " he remembers that exam " !!
    42 days ago

    Comment edited on: 8/10/2020 1:50:37 AM
    42 days ago
    Oh yes, the level has dropped significantly... I was educated in France, but it is similar over there.
    42 days ago
    My Greatgrandmother was a teacher in Kansas during 1895. She married after teaching several years a widower with 3 boys and went on to have 3 more children. Her daughter which is my grandmother also taught in a one room school house until marriage, but she graduated college before teaching early 1900's. She spoke and wrote Spanish even though there were no Spanish speaking people around, and used to joke that she bet a real Spaniard would never be able to understand her. These farm families were and are quite intelligent. Farming is a business that requires a variety of skills. Wonderful people to talk with. Thank you for the trip down memory lane!
    42 days ago
    Wow, that is definitely a challenging test! I can do most of it, but then again I'm certified to teach English grades 7 to 12, which meant numerous college level classes in grammar. And yes, we diagrammed sentences and learned diacritical marks and such. But no, I was NOT doing that in 8th grade!!!

    Don't you love the word "diphthong"??? It has three diphthongs in the word!!!
    43 days ago
    They don't stress the overall knowledge like they did in the older generations. My mom was told she didn't need an education beyond 8th grade to raise a family and run the house. My dad made it to 10th grade but anything beyond that was for the academic types and the trig/geometry he learned was sufficient for a tradesman. That generation was never taught to look beyond their immediate horizon.

    Kudos to your family that refused to be bogged down.

    43 days ago
    I am just gobsmacked! I would never have been able to have passed that test! Amazing what they learned. My grandmother graduated from Normal School and taught in a one room school. Thanks for this blog it is really enlightening! (((HUGS)))
    43 days ago
    Some test emoticon
    43 days ago

    Comment edited on: 8/9/2020 2:33:54 PM
    My Mom, born 1918 was schooled in a little town with a one-room schoolhouse, though I think she might have completed 9th grade before going to work as a nanny to a rich, local rancher named Castle & scion of the county. She lived and worked in a historic house while tending one little boy. Those people became her family...and were a part of our growing up even after my mother married at 20. She met my father at a Portuguese whist party they used to hold in the streets of the small valley towns. Like Ellen's Mom she did the crossword puzzle every day in ink and in order to help run the farm went to the local junior college to learn 'the books'. She was one of those quiet givers in time and money to the community, serving on the local school board for years while I was in elementary school and proud member of the Women's auxiliary of the VFW. She worked every election, every public health event (I can still see her handing out the polio sugar cubes in the high school gym that we all dutifully took) and was always the first with a casserole for the family when someone died. She taught herself to play the piano and loved playing popular old songs & hymns by ear.

    My Dad, born in 1909, might have made it to 6th grade. The second youngest of 13 (8 girls & 5 boys), his domineering French woman educated the girls and sent the boys up to the main ranch up in the hills. When he left, he headed up north in the valley to farm. During his heyday, his nickname was Frenchie and he was quite the 'gay blade'. He married at 28 and farmed his whole life, was exempt from WWII service to grow the food for the nation. My Mom worked by his side, crating melons, driving tractor while he picked up sprinkler pipes and got up at 2am to drive the Ford double axle truck to market with me wrapped in a blanket with my Jack & Jill magazines. He taught me how to fish, he always seemed to have hoe in his hand and had the whitest feet I have ever seen (the ONLY time he ever went barefoot was to take bath).
    He took care of his family and we wanted for nothing. He could drink a 1/2 gallon of milk in one setting and napped on the cool, kitchen floor during the heat of the summer day after our big lunch. He grew squash, melons, alfalfa, almonds and the best garden tomatoes you could imagine. He caught salmon going up the river that ran through the bottomland of The Ranch got on the tractor through his 92nd year, lived nearly 10 years after my Mom died, and passed away 21 days after his 95th birthday.

    Wow, I have many mementos from my Mom and I have 3 cassette tapes of my Dad's 'life'. Time to listen to them I think...as I assume more active role in the family corporation...a legacy of land left by my paternal grandfather whom I never met.

    Wow...I doubted my parents intelligence until I reached 19...but after that I understand they had gone to the school of hard knocks...life is a great education.
    43 days ago
    I think modernization/ industrialization by the 1940's gave rise the "idyllic childhood" fantasy where some kids had less chores and time to play, a lot. Why did it become reasonable to treat children differently in education? Dumbing it down?
    Both my parents were extremely well educated although my dad only graduated HS in 1939 and my mom left in her junior year (got her GED in 1993!).
    43 days ago
  • GABY1948
    Good thing it was you! You are so GOOD at everything. Me, on the other hand HATE tests.....I have always done well but now I freak out because it has been so long!

    43 days ago
  • THOMS1
    How times have changed. What an exam. I bet only the smartest students were able to pass it. I know I would have never been able to. emoticon
    43 days ago
    Now I can understand why you are so sharp -both parents exceptionally intelligent! Most people wouldn't pass this test today. No requirements for good penmanship or to know basic grammar and spelling. Sad for pharmacists having to decipher Dr.'s bad handwriting. Errors have been made. I used to have very good handwriting until the RA got into my hands. I became grateful for the use of an electric typewriter, much easier. I know nothing of my ancestors. The grandfathers on both sides of my family died before we were even born. All of my Dad's family was in Germany. My Mom's Dad came from England. My Cree grandmother's records were all destroyed in two separate fires. So not being able to provide proof of birth for getting her treaty status back (which she had lost marrying a white man) -the government gave her the birthdate of January 1st! She never had any children with her first husband. Mom, was her only child.
    43 days ago
    My dad finished Grade 3 and then had to begin work on the farm; he was an absolute math whiz, voracious reader and writer, loved to act in neighbourhood talent shows and had lovely penmanship. My mom was a "school marm" until she met said farmer. They were both formidable teachers of my sister and me and woe the public school teachers who didn't come up to their standards.
    43 days ago
    Wow, that was some test!
    43 days ago
    Wow!!! That was such a tough test I have BA & B Ed degrees but most of those tests are beyond me. Know very little about US History but English & Math would be tough too.
    43 days ago
    WOW! Who knew? And my how times have changed. Can you imagine trying to institute such "minimum standards" for advancement today? The uproar would be deafening. Thanks for sharing.
    43 days ago
    Yep, school has changed in content over the past 100 plus years! I've seen similar test questions. Back then, by the time you were 16, you were expected to be able to take over the farm, and figuring out how many bushels of grain your wagon would hold was very practical to that career!
    43 days ago
  • 1958TMC
    I would never have passed those tests. We are a different society for sure.
    43 days ago
    OMG! I’d have flunked 8th grade!

    My Grandfather only made it through 6th grade (his Dad was a railroad worker and was killed on the job, leaving his Mom to raise he and his twin. This was during the depression! He and his brother were in an orphanage till his Mom could rescue them. Then he started working selling newspapers. While he did that he literally memorized the dictionary. If you asked him how to spell a word or the meaning he did not hesitate. Smart, smart man.

    And YES! My Grandfather had impeccable handwriting – I still have his letters and marvel @ his penmanship.

    My Mom didn't get to finish high school as she took care of her Mom (blind and had arthritis). BUT she was one of the most financially savvy women I ever met. If she gave you investment advice, just do it! Dad always deferred to her on that.

    And it is sad what the young ones now don’t know!!!

    43 days ago

    Comment edited on: 8/9/2020 8:05:10 PM
  • GABY1948
    Such differences in then and now.....and I don't think I could pass them either!
    43 days ago
    Isn't it amazing!! And they had so much to teach us if only we listened!!
    43 days ago
  • PHOENIX1949
    Interesting. Without a lot of prior preparation, there's no way I could pass this!
    43 days ago
  • LYNCHD05
    No, I guess I am stuck in grade seven but who knows maybe I couldn’t pass that exam either.

    Thanks for sharing this really interesting bit of our history. Who knew!!!!
    43 days ago
    I remember from "Little House on the Prairie" there was an example of the some of the questions in the exam Laura took to become a school teacher how much attention was given to English language grammar and knowledge of it's components. I remember in high school in the 70s, they ditched teaching grammar because they said it was discouraging for kids to have red marks on their pages, resulting in 60 % of first year university students failing the English standard exam, which had to be passed at some point to earn an undergraduate degree. And sometimes students didn't pass until 3rd year.

    Wow, brainiac parents, with a brainiac child, explains why they expected so much of you. Most likely thought they had obstacles in their education path and did everything to smooth your way and expected stellar results at every turn.

    I am wondering if it was a 5 hour exam taken in one sitting or maybe 1 hour exams of which 5 had to be written.
    43 days ago

    Comment edited on: 8/9/2020 1:34:26 PM

    Make today the greatest day of your life
    Until tomorrow!

    “Winning requires the ability to move quickly when opportunity presents itself.”
    – Brian Tracy

    43 days ago
    My mother went to 'normal school' in Truro, NS and taught in a one-room school. The summer I was going into grade 10, Mom went to summer school in Halifax to upgrade her teaching certificate to the current requirements. I was the house-keeper during the week. She came home on weekends. She went back to teaching when my brother entered school.

    My paternal grandfather only went to grade 4. How times have changed.
    43 days ago
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