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Language exercises by students of Worcester, Massachusetts


Held at: University of Delaware Library Special Collections [Contact Us]181 South College Avenue, Newark, DE 19717-5267

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Delaware Library Special Collections. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

During the 1903/1904 school year, six public grade schools in Worcester, Massachusetts, collected exemplary student work for submission to an exhibition, very likely the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exhibition in St. Louis, Missouri. The fair featured a “Palace of Education” exhibiting schoolwork and educational practices from across the country and abroad.

The six schools that contributed to this compilation are Adams Square, Belmont Street, East Kendall Street, Elizabeth Street, Harlow Street, and Thomas Street. The "Belmont Preparatory School" named on sets of seventh- through ninth-grade submissions may be a part of the Belmont Street School or a separate facility. The number of students at each school appears to vary between 300 and 700 in grades first through ninth. Children began school at the age of five or six, and the nine graders ranged in age from thirteen to sixteen. Each grade was often divided into two to three classes with a class size of anywhere from twenty to sixty-five.

At the beginning of the twentieth century, the city of Worcester had a large immigrant population. One teacher wrote, "As most of my children have foreign born parents and find the mastery of English spelling and construction very difficult, I have them make the first draft on manilla [sic] paper when anything like a story is required."

Charles Nutt, History of Worcester and Its People (New York: Lewis Historical Publishing, 1919).Louisiana Purchase Exposition, Official Guide to the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, Ed. M. J. Lowenstein (St. Louis: Official Guide Company, 1904).Additional information derived from the collection.

This volume contains selected schoolwork in the subject of Language from students in grades one through nine has been copied by the students and bound together, likely for submission to the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exhibition in St. Louis, Missouri. The compilation represents the work of students at the Adams Square, Belmont Street, East Kendall Street, Elizabeth Street, Harlow Street, and Thomas Street schools in Worcester, Massachusetts.

Forms, likely printed by the exhibition, were filled out by the teachers and placed before each class’s work. They list the grade, school, and number of students in the classes. The teachers also described the assignments. The students wrote their names, grades, and ages at the top of each exercise.

The younger students most often copied words and sentences from a book or from the blackboard. Occasionally a class would work together to write a story or essay, and then the students would all copy a single version. In later grades, copying was replaced by dictation, retelling a story in one’s own words, and original composition. A common exercise was to write a story based on a picture assigned by the teacher. In later grades, the students studied punctuation, grammar, and wrote essays on the subjects of geography, history, literature, and science. The older children also practiced letter writing and French, German, and Latin.

Most of the exercises are illustrated either by a printed picture or a drawing by the children. The prints appear to be clipped from magazines or other publications and are reproductions of both photographs and illustrations.

Many of the students’ compositions tell stories including nursery rhymes, fairy tales, fables, and other anecdotes about animals or children. Other subjects include Henry W. Longfellow, J. G. Whittier, John Bunyan’s

The Pilgrim’s Progress, William Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, Sir Edwin Landseer, Bach, Robert Bruce (King of Scotland), Christopher Columbus, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, the Liberty Bell, Native Americans, the "Eskimo," the Incas, the conquest of Mexico, Japan, Holland, Switzerland, Italy, Greek Art, and Saracen ornamentation. The compositions provide an example of teaching methods and the perception of these subjects at the beginning of the twentieth century.

  1. Item 0128: Shelved in SPEC MSS 0097


Processed and Encoded by Kate Hand, November 2007. Updated by E. Evan Echols, September 2014.

University of Delaware Library Special Collections
Finding Aid Author
University of Delaware Library, Special Collections
Finding Aid Date
2014 September 4
Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions

Use of materials from this collection beyond the exceptions provided for in the Fair Use and Educational Use clauses of the U.S. Copyright Law may violate federal law. Permission to publish or reproduce is required from the copyright holder. Please contact Special Collections, University of Delaware Library,

Collection Inventory

Language exercises by students of Worcester, Massachusetts, 1903-1904. 1 volume.
Item 0128
Physical Description

1 volume

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