64. Photograph of One-Room Schoolhouse – Jackson County (c. 1913)

Background: In the 19th and early 20th century, one-room schoolhouses were the main means of education for children in the vast rural areas that comprised much of Illinois. For many Illinois children, the one-room schoolhouse was the only school they would ever attend. The average one-room school served approximately four township sections. For many children, traveling a distance of 2 miles in the pre-automobile age to get to a school was not uncommon. In 1913, around the time of this photograph, the minimum requirements for a standard school included a well-built and painted schoolhouse in good repair, two well kept and widely separated outhouses, a well-lighted school room, and heat by a jacketed stove or room heater. After World War II, improvements to roads and modes of transportation led to the consolidation of these rural school districts into larger, more centralized schools and ultimately to the demise of the one-room schools.

The Document: This featured document is a circa 1913 photograph of Davis School, which was located in Somerset Township in Jackson County. The contract to build Davis School was awarded in late June 1912 in accordance with the then current state specifications for a "modern one-room school house." Those specifications included an exterior design that suggested a home as well as a school, separate coat rooms for boys and girls, a library, and a fuel room in the schoolhouse so that coal or wood did not have to be moved far.

Note: This photograph is one of several at the State Archives depicting the exteriors and interiors of early 20th century Illinois schools. They are available at the Illinois State Archives as a part of Illinois State Board of Education Record Series 106.025, "Photographs."