Groton School Essays

Original content by: Henry Kydd

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About This Document

Much about everyday life in Groton, CT, and the lives of students who were educated there in the mid-nineteenth century can be gleaned from reading the compositions of young scholars who attended one of the eleven school districts in the town in 1864.  The topics of the individual essays focus on history, geography, biology, current events, pastimes, morals, and the value of an education. In particular, this collection helps to reveal much about how education has evolved since the mid-19th Century.  These pupils were writing in order to practice penmanship and to help them remember information deemed important by the curriculum of the time. More...

Historical Context

In 1820, schools were but a small part of the terrain of childhood in the United States. However, within a hundred years, they would evolve into a major condition of childhood.  The thousands of "little wooden, sod, frame, stone, and brick schoolhouses dotting the countryside" in 1820 had by 1920 become the link between small town and the larger world of government and nation. More...


Questions for Further Thought

  1. What can you learn about education in the mid-nineteenth century by reading these essays? How about daily life in the mid-nineteenth century? Use specific examples.
  2. Compare the writing assignments above to typical daily assignments you are asked to complete by your teachers. In what ways are they similar/different?
  3. In what ways do you think the Civil War impacted/changed the lives of the students who wrote these essays?