Posts Tagged ‘music’

Schools were a lot different in 1912 than today. In the rural areas there was still only one teacher many times that taught all of the grades in a single room building. In larger areas a student may have a teacher for two or three grades before moving on to another teacher for the couple of grades.

Teachers were a lot stricter than they are today. It was common practice for mischievous student to be paddled, stand in the corner, have additional assignments or stay after school to write on the board.

Single Room School

Today we hear a lot about extra curriculum activities. Things such as art, music and dance were learned in the home or from a neighbor.

Children often enjoyed plenty of exercise, but not as a physical education class. From a very young age they were assigned chores. In rural areas, farming and mill {textile work} were very prevalent. Children often left school to help the family earn a living from a young age.

Early Classroom

My great-grandmother only had a fifth grade education. She came from a large family, and went to work in the mill to help support them. This was in the days before there were child labor laws, although President Taft did pass the Children’s Bureau Law in 1912.

Middle and upper classes often stayed in school longer than their counterparts. It was only the brightest and most ambitious of students that continued on to college.

One Room School in 1915

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Have you ever thought about what life was like 100 years ago? Life has changed considerably in the last 100 years! Today we have numerous forms of entertainment from television, radio, internet, MP3 players, Wii’s, Blackberry’s, Kindles, and a number of other gadgets that keep us entertained.
A hundred years ago none of these items even existed. Image if you went back in time to 1912. What would you do for fun?

Music—today we can turn the radio on and have a number of stations playing a large variety of music. In 1912 if you wanted to hear music it was usually live. You could hear a band that might be in your area, your sister that played the piano or player pianos which were popular at the time. Sheet music was very popular and the way to get a song into the hands of the general public. Irving Berlin’s Alexander’s Ragtime Band was popular and made him a household name. Other songs of the time were In the Garden, When Irish Eyes Were Smiling, Be My Little Baby Bumble Bee, and It’s a Long Way to Tipperary.

Alexander's Ragtime Band

Books—books were very popular but they were not as easily available as they are today. Arthur Conan Doyle {author of the Sherlock Holmes series} was a popular author of that day. Several popular books that were published in 1912 are Daddy Long Legs {later made into a movie with Fred Astaire}, Tarzan of the Apes, Chronicles of Avonlea, Robin Hood, and The Jewel of Seven Stars by Bram Stoker.

Arthur Conan Doyle

Movies—movies did not exist as we know them today. They were considerably shorter usually lasting in length 15-20 minutes {although some were longer}. This was in the days before sound and if music was put to the film it was because the theatre paid a musician to play the piano as the reel played. The film industry was growing and exploring during this time. George Melies was just one popular actor of that age. The film Hugo chronicles his success and failures during this time. A couple of movies in 1912 showing were The Knight of the Snows, The Glass Slipper, and The Ghost of Sulpher Mountain.

George Melies

Dances—dances were very popular and it was a great way to see your friends. Music was provided by local musicians that would entertain the group.

Church Gatherings—churches would hold socials or gatherings. Many churches during this time did not approve of dancing {I’ve seen church records where members were kicked out for dancing}. They may have had a potluck meal, storyteller to regale them, music from local entertainers or possibly a hayride in the fall.

Church Social

Games—they did not have Nintendo or even all the board games we have today. Games then might include a game of horseshoes, marbles, checkers, jacks or chess.


These are just some of the ways that people spent their spare time a hundred years ago. Many worked hard on the farms or in the mill and had little time for extracurricular pursuits. While our society has technically advanced in the last hundred years, many of their pursuits are not that different from how we spend our time today.

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