About Jenny Cvek

The short and sweet: I'm Jenny. I'm twenty, I'm a junior in college, and I'm from the lovely state of Minnesota. I'm passionate about words, photography, theatre, singing, loving Jesus and loving people. This is not about me. This is all about Jesus. {Profile picture credit to Ri & He Photography}

1900s Education: all about teachers

Welcome to the last installment in the education series. The last topic is all about teachers and will be broken into two parts.

Being a teacher was not always easy task, especially if you were a woman. The average salary for a teacher was about $485 by 1910. This average, however, was based on gender, teaching level, and religion. In 1900 the salary for a female teacher had started out at $600; for each additional years of experience, they would get $40 more. Male elementary teachers, however, started at the same base salary of $600 but received $150 more each year of experience. High school teachers, mainly males, received higher salaries than elementary school teachers while administrators made the most out of all of the school staff. Teachers wore simple, often homemade clothing to school.  In the early 1900s, female teachers wore long skirts with petticoats and blouses with puffy sleeves.  Sometimes they would wear jackets matching the skirts. They wore stockings and dark, ankle high lace-up shoes to complete the outfit.  The male teachers wore suits with ties and dark, ankle high lace-up shoes with dress socks to match.

Teachers had very many rules to live by in the 1900’s. Most of the rules were designed for women to follow but men also had to follow the rules.

Here is the list of rules to follow.

  1. To keep the school room neat and clean, you must:
  • Sweep the floor at least once daily
  • Scrub the floor at least once a week with hot, soapy water
  • Clean the blackboards at least once a day
  • Start the fire at 7 AM so the room will be warm by 8 AM

2) You will not marry during the term of your contract.

3) You are not to keep company with men.

4) You must be home between the hours of 8 PM and 6AM unless attending a school function.

5) You may not loiter downtown in ice cream stores

6) You may not travel beyond the city limits unless you have the permission of the chairman of the board.

7) You may not ride in a carriage or automobile with any man unless he is your father or brother.

8) You may not smoke cigarettes.

9) You may not dress in bright colors.

10) You may under no circumstances dye your hair.

11) You must wear at least two petticoats.

12) Your dresses must not be any shorter than two inches above the ankle.

13) Men teachers may take one evening each week for courting purposes, or two evenings a week if they go to church.

14) After ten hours in school, the teachers may spend the remaining time reading the Bible or other good books.

15) Women teachers who marry or engage in unseemly conduct will be dismissed.

16) Every good teacher should lay aside from each pay a goodly sum of his earnings for his benefit during his declining years so that he will not be a burden on society.

17) Any teacher who smokes, uses liquor in any form, frequents pool or public halls, or gets shaved in a barber shop will give good reason to suspect his worth, intention, integrity, and honesty.

18) The teacher who performs his labor faithfully and without fault for five years will be given an increase of twenty-five cents per week in his pay, providing the Board of Education approves.

The reason for the rule against marriage is that it would normally be followed by pregnancy, and the farmers did not want a pregnant woman teaching their children. Also, the teacher would most likely be unable to finish the term if she were to become pregnant and it would be difficult to replace her. As for the other rules, the farmers felt it was improper for a teacher to behave that way, so they made rules prohibiting that type of conduct.

The farmers expected teachers to be models to hold up for their children. If they did not want their children to do certain activities, they would forbid these activities for the teacher. For example, the farmers did not want their children smoking, so they did not allow the teacher to smoke. They were also very careful to ensure that the teacher was respected. They did this by forbidding any actions that could call the teacher’s honor into question. For example, a female teacher spending too much time in the company of a man alone would call her honor into question and so was forbidden unless the man happened to be a male relative. The farmers wanted to avoid controversy, and they did so by instituting these rules.

Teacher Duties

The teacher had many duties. As well as teaching the students, she was responsible for the upkeep of the school. She was the school’s janitor. She had to sweep the floor every day after school and scrub it with hot, soapy water every week. She had to clean the chalkboards and erasers everyday as well. She also had to make sure that, during winter, the fire was started well before the students arrived. Many times, she gave these jobs to the older students.

She also had the responsibility of preparing for school events such as the popular Christmas pageant. She not only had to decide what to include in the program each year, she had to teach each student what his or her part was and decorate the building for it.

Teacher Living Accommodations

The living accommodations for teachers differed from district to district. Many times, the teacher would board with a local family until she was able to buy a house of her own (which was rare) or by marriage (which would disqualify her of teaching for the next term). Another possibility was that she only boarded with the family until she moved on to another district, which was a frequent practice.

A room added to the one-room schoolhouse could serve as living accommodations for the teacher. Occasionally school districts added this room to the schoolhouse itself rather than boarding teachers in the home of one of the farmers in the area. Being able to live in the school house was more convenient for teachers since they would not have to walk to school. They could just roll out of bed and prepare the school for the day.

Typical teacher ages

In 1890, nearly half of all teachers in the United States was 25 years old. By 1900, the typical teacher age had decreased to two fifths of 25 year olds.

Number of teachers by age in 1890

10-14 years old: 257

15-24 years old: 170,552

25-34 years old: 107,031

35-44 years old: 38,431

45-54 years old: 18,679

55-64 years old: 7,197

65 or older: 2,884

Number of teachers by age in 1900

10-14 years old: 157

15-24 years old: 188,577

25-34 years old: 150,325

35-44 years old: 58,466

45-54 years old: 24,611

55-64 years old: 10,543

65 or older: 3,807


Series by Haley Sjerven, Staff Member


1900s Education: Historic High Schools

Here is a question for you: What are the two oldest high schools in Minnesota that opened in 1866? Did you guess Saint Paul Central High School and Hastings High School? If you did, then you are correct and if not, now you know! This week’s blog post is all about information about the two historic high schools in Minnesota and about six other high schools in the region of Brooklyn Park.

Saint Paul Central High School was established in 1866. The school hosted a dozen students and one lone teacher: Mrs. Harriet Haynes, who had come from Maine to take her position. The 1866-67 school year began on the first Monday in September and consisted of thirty-eight weeks, divided into three terms. Classes were held from eight thirty in the morning until one o’clock in the afternoon each day. The first two students to graduate: Fannie Haynes (daughter of the teacher) and A. P. Warren in 1870. The first 2 diplomas were hand printed on sheepskin. Textbooks in 1866 included Brown’s English Grammar, Robinson’s Higher Arithmetic, Algebra, Geometry and Trigonometry, Wells’ Natural Philosophy and Chemistry, Hitchcock’s Physiology, Lommis’ Astronomy, Weber’s Universal History, Warren’s Physical Geography, and Latin and Geology. The school’s first library contained two books: Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary and Anthon’s Classical Dictionary of Antiquities. In 2006, the St. Paul Public Schools celebrated its 150th anniversary. Notable graduates of St. Paul Public Schools include former U.S. Supreme Court justices Harry Blackmun and Warren Burger, civil rights leader Roy Wilkins, creator of the Peanuts cartoon strip Charles M. Schulz, and many others from various professions.

Hastings Senior High School was established in 1866.

Anoka High School was established in 1880 and has moved to four different buildings throughout the years. The current building has been in extant since 1970. It is part of some of the oldest high schools in Minnesota. Anoka was the largest high school in the state until Champlin Park opened. This caused the enrollment of students to be removed from Brooklyn Park, Brooklyn Center, Champlin and Dayton.

Champlin Park High School was established in 1992. It is the 3rd largest high school in the state. Champlin Park is actually located in Brooklyn Park even though the address uses the Champlin zip code. The name for Champlin Park combines the Champlin and Brooklyn Park.

Park Center Senior High School established in 1971. Park Center students represent the diversity in the United States and are the 4th most diverse public school in Minnesota.  Students come from more than 20 different countries and speak 35 different languages. Park Center is a state leader in improving graduation rates of Black students. From 2009 to 2015, the on-time graduation rate of Black students grew from 54% to 75%. Park Center combines the Brooklyn Park and Brooklyn Center

Maple Grove Senior High School was established in 1996. Maple Grove gets its name from the large stands of maple trees and was a significant source for maple syrup at one time.

Osseo Senior High School was established in 1924. Due to being the first school in District 279, which is the reason for being called Osseo District 279. The original school building opened in 1928. In 1935, an auditorium/ gym were added on. The school was designated as high school in 1952.

Brooklyn Center High School was established in 1961. It is a part of District 286 and is the smallest district in the state of Minnesota in terms of geographical size.

Series by Haley Sjerven, Staff Member

1900s Education: eighth grade exam (answers!)

Hello everyone! How well did you do with the sample questions from the eighth grade exam?  Do you think you could have passed if you were lucky enough to stay in school that long?  Here are the answers to the sample questions. If you want more questions and answers, here is an 1895 eighth grade exam.



  • Give nine rules for the use of Capital Letters.
  • Capitalize the first word in a sentence.
  • Capitalize the pronoun I and the interjection O.
  • Capitalize the first word in a quotation.
  • Capitalize the first word in a direct question falling within a sentence.
  • Capitalize all nouns referring to the deity and to the Bible and other sacred books.
  • Use a capital letter for President and Presidency when these refer to the office of President of the United States.
  • Use a capital letter for official titles before the names of officials.
  • Capitalize proper nouns and adjectives formed from proper nouns.
  • Capitalize every word, except conjunctions, articles and short prepositions in the titles of works of literature, music, art, books, etc. The first word of a title is always capitalized.



  • What is the cost of 40 boards 12 inches wide and 16 ft. long at $.20 per inch?


40 X 12 X $.20 = $96.00

U.S. History

  • Give the epochs into which U.S. History is divided.


The History of the United States of America is divided into these seven epochs:

  • Period of Discovery and Settlement (1492 – 1690)
  • Expansion of the Colonies (1690 – 1763)
  • Securing Independence (1763 – 1774)
  • The Critical Period (1774 – 1780)
  • Testing Self-Government and the Constitution (1780 – 1840)
  • Straining the Constitution (1840 – 1876)
  • The United States – A Greater Nation (to present)



  • Give four substitutes for caret ‘u’.

Substitutes for caret ‘u’ are oo as in tool, eau as in bureau, ew as in crew.


  • Name all the republics of Europe and give capital of each.

France with its capital at Paris, and Switzerland with its capital at Bern are the only republics in Europe. There are no other republics in Europe as we know a republic to be, all the other nations are constitutional monarchies, or principalities. The major monarchies are Great Britain, London; Germany, Berlin; Russia, St. Petersburg; Ukraine, Kiev; Austria/Hungary, Vienna; Italy, Rome; Spain, Seville; Portugal, Lisbon; Belgium, Brussels; Holland, Amsterdam; Denmark, Copenhagen; Norway, Oslo; and Sweden, Stockholm.


  • What is the function of the liver? Of the kidneys?

The liver is the center for the storage of vitamins and nutrients which were dissolved and digested in the intestines. The nutrients are carried to the liver by two large veins. Blood passes through the liver at a rate of about 1 1/2 quarts per minute. At any given time the liver contains about 10% of all the blood in your body. The liver is divided into two main parts called lobes. The liver is protected by the bottom part of the ribs on the right side of your chest and the liver weighs between 3 and 4 pounds. The liver also works to make bile. Bile is used to break down fats in the small intestine. The bile is stored in the gall bladder until it is needed to help digest the food you eat. If you eat a real fatty food your body will need more bile to help digest those fats than it would need in comparison to a salad or some fruit.

The kidneys are bean-shaped organs, each about the size of a fist. They are located near the middle of the lower back, just below the rib cage. The kidneys are sophisticated trash collectors. Every day, the kidneys process about 200 quarts of blood to sift out about 2 quarts of waste products and extra water. The waste and extra water become urine, which flows to the bladder through tubes called ureters. The bladder stores urine until you go to the bathroom. The wastes in the blood come from the normal breakdown of active muscle and from the food we eat. Our bodies use the food for energy and self-repair. After our body has taken what it needs from the food, waste is sent to the blood. If our kidneys did not remove these wastes, the wastes would build up in the blood and damage our body.


Series by Haley Sjerven, Staff Member

1900s Education: eighth grade exam

If a student went through all the years of school up to eighth grade, they would take the eighth grade exam to see if they would pass which would get their eighth grade diploma. This test was not truly based on the student’s intelligence, but rather their memorization skills.  The test had students memorize answers to the questions. There were very few critical thinking questions on the test.  So, when people question if kids are not as smart as kids back then, just remember that kids in the 1900s learned to memorize everything.  The students whose memorization skills were lower or whose families made less money would not have taken the test and would have started full time working on farms or in textile mills at the age of 14. Most kids that took the test were middle and upper classes or children were considered to have potential and had someone sponsor them.  Do you think that you could pass the eighth grade test?

These are the different subjects and some test questions from the 1895 Eighth Grade Final Exam, Salina, Kansas, (circa) 1895.

Grammar (1 hour to complete)

  • Give nine rules for the use of Capital Letters.

Arithmetic (1.25 hours to complete)

  • What is the cost of 40 boards 12 inches wide and 16 ft. long at $.20 per inch?

U.S History (45 minutes to complete)

  • Give the epochs into which U.S. History is divided.

Orthography (1 hour to complete)

  • Give four substitutes for caret ‘u’.

Geography (1 hour to complete)

  • Name all the republics of Europe and give capital of each.

Health (45 minutes to complete)

  • What is the function of the liver? Of the kidneys?

Do you think you have the right answers to the questions? Tune in to the next blog post to see the answers!

Series by Haley Sjerven, Staff Member

1900s Education: Everyone’s favorite subject

Who remembers going to lunch time and then going out to recess when you were in school? Maybe for a lot of you, lunch time and recess was your favorite “subject.”  What was your favorite recess game?  Back in the 1900’s, kids still loved recess time as kids do today, but instead of playing on playground equipment, kids in the 1900s played recess games.  Common ones were fox and geese, shadow tag, chain tag, drop the handkerchief (duck, duck, goose), dare base, last couple out, marbles, blind man’s bluff, hopscotch, kickball, jump rope, jack’s, ring around a rosy, wood blocks, making dolls, dominoes, quoits (ring toss), rolling hoops, tops, buzz saws, yo-yo, checkers and hide and seek. For lunch time, students would grab their lunches from home, usually carried in a lunch pail.  They often brought sandwiches, cornbread or biscuits, apples and cookies.  Sometimes, they took a small metal container of homemade soup to be warmed on the top of the schoolroom stove.  If you lived not too far from school, a kid could walk home to have lunch with their family.  The remainder of the noon hour would be recess time.

Series by Haley Sjerven, Staff Member


1900s Education: the school day

book wagon

Since the small one-room schools were unable to purchase a large supply of schoolbooks, Hennepin County provided a book wagon. By visiting the various schools, it gave children access to additional reading materials. (Photograph found in “Images of America: Brooklyn Park & Brooklyn Center” by Pat Snodgrass)

Early September was the beginning of the school year at a one-room country schoolhouse, however, older boys who were needed in the fields during the growing and harvesting seasons and would only attend school only during the winter term. School usually started between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.  Children from rural areas would walk to the nearest school, and sometimes this meant walking one to four miles from home. For longer distances, some students might ride a pony or horse to school, which would be kept in a little shed or fenced-in area near the school.  Since there was no running water for plumbing in classroom, boys and girls would go to the outhouse that was located out back of the school house.  Water for drinking and washing came from an outside well and students took turns pumping to raise the water.  Often there was a bucket of drinking water with a dipper inside the classroom.  The classroom had two forms of light to light the classroom; one was natural light that came through the windows or by kerosene lamps when it was after sunset or in the winter.

As the school bell rang, students formed two lines—boys in one and girls in another—from the youngest to the oldest. The teacher stood by the door to greet students. The girls entered first, hung their coats on the hooks, placed their lunch pails on the shelf, and then stood by their desks while the boys entered accordingly. As the children entered, they “made their manners” by curtsying or bowing to the teacher. The teacher made his or her way to the front and called attention for the Pledge of Allegiance.  After this, the Lord’s Prayer was said or a moral lesson was conducted using the Bible as a reference.  Sometimes a song would be sung. Children were then seated and the roll was called.  As the morning exercises began, the teacher would explain the assignments for each grade level.  The students sat in rows of wooden desks facing the teacher’s desk and blackboard.  In some classrooms, there were double desks where classmates sat side by side and shared books.  Subjects included spelling, arithmetic, reading, history, geography and physiology but reading, good penmanship, and arithmetic were stressed more than the other subjects.  These subjects have been referred to as the Three Rs of education–Reading, ‘Riting, and ‘Rithmetic.  By adding recitation, an important element of the reading lesson, teachers would sometimes call it the Four Rs.  With the scarcity of books and paper, memorization and oral drilling was highly emphasized.  Strict discipline was found in most one-room schools.  The teacher was in charge and the families expected them to enforce rules and keep order.  Families knew that they were paying to maintain the local school and wanted to get their money’s worth in the education of their children.  Common forms of discipline were whipping with a rod or ruler 15 to 18 inches long used to strike the palms or buttocks, hickory stick spankings, standing in a corner, and sitting on a stool with a dunce cap on the head.  Some other forms of punishment included standing with one’s nose inside a drawn circle on the board, memorizing long passages with moral messages, writing sentences over and over, and copying moral messages.  The loss of recess, cleaning of the floors, and, what was thought to be the worst punishment for boys, sitting on the girls’ side of the room with a bonnet on their head, were all methods used to discipline students in one-room schools.


Photograph found in “Images of America: Brooklyn Park & Brooklyn Center” by Pat Snodgrass.

At the end of the school day, slate boards were cleaned, books were put away, special announcements were made and any homework was passed out. The chore assignments for the next day were handed out, and row by row, students retrieved their coats and lunch pails and returned to their desks until dismissed.  As students left the room in an orderly fashion, the teacher stood by the door to bid them farewell.  Students who misbehaved during the day were sometimes kept late and had to sweep the floors, gather and wash the tin cups, or submit to any other punishment of the teacher’s choice.

At the end of the school year, children took an oral exam covering spelling and arithmetic problems, and answered questions on many subjects. This helped the teacher determine the next year’s level of study for each student.

Series by Haley Sjerven, Staff Member


1900s Education: Public vs. Private Schools

There were two types of schools that children could attend: private or public school. Students who were wealthy attended private academics in the 1900s. The classes were small, with only about three or four kids in a class.  There was only one teacher who taught several grades in just one room. The subjects that girls learned included reading, spelling, history, arithmetic, geography, and penmanship.  Girls also learned manners and how to walk like a lady.

Public schools were free, and most children who were not rich attended a public school. Boys and girls were at the same school and there was a class of twenty to thirty kids for each grade level. Teachers were harder on students in public schools than in private schools. If kids did something wrong, the teachers wouldn’t hesitate to hit them with paddles or rulers. In contrast to private schools, much of the work done in public schools was reciting, reading, and memorizing.  In 1904, kids were supposed to go to school until they were sixteen, but most did not finish eighth grade because their families needed help on the farms and factories.

Education was important to the settlers. Separate Brooklyn Township settlements banded together and built one-room school houses. In 1862, Gov. Alexander Ramsey requested that small school districts b formed. Revenue was to be levied from liquor licenses and fines for crime. Minnesota’s historian and secretary to Pres. Abraham Lincoln, Edward D. Neill, wrote in 1881 that Brooklyn Township had seven one-room schoolhouses. Most were named after the closest farm or town.  (Photograph found in “Images of America: Brooklyn Park & Brooklyn Center” by Pat Snodgrass.)

Series by Haley Sjerven, Staff Member


1900s Education: Introduction

long prairie school

One early school was a crude shanty built in 1854 at Long Prairie for 10 students. The shanty had a board roof and two half windows.  (Photograph found in “Images of America Brooklyn Park & Brooklyn Center” by Pat Snodgrass.)

Have you ever wondered what it was like to go to school in the 1900s? Or what it was like to be a teacher during this time? With a new school year just around the corner, we thought it would be fun to do a four-part series on information relating to the 1900s and education.  Topics include the one room school house, the eighth grade exam, historic and local high schools, and what it was like to be a teacher.  Enjoy this flashback into the history of school and see how far we have come!

Series by Haley Sjerven, Staff Member

A Sheep Story

Everything served a purpose on a 1900 farm, and this included animals.  Farm families didn’t keep animals as pets, but rather as a valuable asset for work efficiency and resources; they provided food for a family and helped field work get done faster and better.

The Eidem’s main livestock were sheep, which came in to Osseo on trains from Montana every fall.  Brooklyn Park farmers would send out potatoes, and Montana farmers would send back sheep.  They were then herded from Osseo to Brooklyn Park, walking through the streets all the way back.  Sheep were first brought to Osseo in 1893 by a man named Edward Egan who purchased 100 of them from a farmer north of Anoka, who fed them during the winter before returning them to Montana.  As the years went by, word spread about Egan’s success, and soon winter sheep-feeding became a common practice for Hennepin County farmers.

Known for their meat, wool, and quality fertilizer, sheep were a common part of any Midwest farm.  Wool was a valuable resource, especially in the long, cold Minnesota winters.  In the spring, the sheep would be skillfully sheared by a farmer, and then the wool was spun into yarn.  Before being spun, wool had to be “carded”: brushed out with two special brushes in order to be straight enough to put on the spinning wheel.  Women would have “spinning bees,” large social events in which the women of the community would gather together at one house with their wheels and wool, spending the day making yarn.  They then used the yarn to knit hats, scarves, mittens, sweaters, stockings, and anything else used to keep warm in the winter.  Not only is wool incredibly warm, but it’s also waterproof, so snow didn’t soak through it, making it easier to work outside during the winter months.

Sheep are still a beloved part of Eidem Homestead today.  Children love to see the animals, feed them corn, and pet their soft wool.  The spinning wheel, wool pieces, and carding brushes are still an important part of every tour, and we still have spinning demonstrations at events from time to time.  The Eidems have left their legacy in many ways, and we are proud to continue to carry it out.

History of Bake Contests

During Brooklyn Park’s annual Tater Daze festival, Eidem Homestead will host its annual bake contest.  Featuring pastries, breads, canned goods, and items made with potatoes, guests will participate in the time-honored tradition of kitchen competition.

Throughout much of American history, bake sales and contests have brought people together for community causes, such a raising funds for a church or school.  Contestants took great pride in their work, and recipes were and often still are thought of as a prized possession.  State and county fairs have also been hugely popular for this, awarding a multitude of prizes, ribbons, and bragging rights for centuries.

To promote its Best Family Flour and celebrate its eightieth birthday, the Minneapolis-based Pillsbury company hosted its first annual Bake-Off contest in New York City in 1949.  Thousands of entries were submitted to this nationwide competition with the winner receiving a $50,000 grand prize.  A hundred finalists won a trip to NYC and a stay in the hotel where the contest was being hosted, a Hamilton Beach mixer, a General Electric Stratoliner push-button range, and a $100 cash prize.  Since that first year, the contest has only grown, boasting celebrity judges every year, traveling to new cities, and now offering a $1 million prize to its first-place winner.  There are two age categories: junior (ages 12-18) and senior (age 19+), just like Eidem’s bake contest has, and the contest emphasizes quick and easy recipes for working America.

The success and popularity of the Pillsbury Bake-Off spurred other companies on to create their own contests, such as the National Chicken Contest, the National Beef Contest, and the Egg Recipe Contest.  Cooking competitions have also filled up television all over the world, with popular programs being The Great British Bake-OffMaster Chef and Master Chef JuniorChoppedTop ChefKids Baking Championship, and (baker’s) dozens of others.

Though competition divides people, food has an unmatched ability to bring the together.  Perhaps that’s why cooking competitions are so admired; despite having winners and losers, everyone always gets something out of it.

The Eidem bake contest has seen more than its fair share of delicious dishes in the last three years since it was started, and we cannot wait to taste everyone’s creations this year!  If you’re interested in participating, get your entry form here and and don’t forget to check out the event on our Facebook page.


Read the other excellent articles that provided the information for this post!  You can learn even more about baking and history.