Twenty-seven black and white photographs, all but one measuring ca. 7.5 x 9.5 inches (including white borders). All have paper remnants on the back from having been mounted or glued in an album. Fifteen have brief captions in pencil on the back. Two are credited "Photo by Falk" on the negative, the rest uncredited, but professional, and likely by the same photographer. Five have some damage (chips torn off), the rest are in very good condition.
In 1907, the National Education Association declared "We believe that the time is rapidly approaching when both industrial and commercial education should be introduced into all schools and made to harmonize with the occupations of the community....We believe that it is the duty of the state not only to qualify its children to be good citizens, but also as far as possible to be useful members of their community." This statement reflected an ongoing movement in American education to ensure that students were prepared for work in a rapidly industrializing society. By 1914, the State of Kansas had incorporated an "Industrial Training" section into the standardized Course of Study For Graded Schools Having Nine Month Terms published by the State Board of Education. It included curricula for every grade level "designed to train the constructive imagination...to prepare more directly for industrial efficiency...and to assist the pupil in determining for what trade or other pursuit he is best adapted." Not only would such courses increase manual dexterity and the ability to plan, but they would also "give the reticent an opportunity for expression" and "cultivate a spirit of independence." This engaging series of photographs documents such instruction in action in the small southeastern Kansas city of Coffeyville. The images show many different classrooms, with students ranging in age from early elementary school through high school. Younger students are shown engaged in sewing (girls), weaving (co-ed), clay modeling (co-ed), reed basketry (boys), raffia basketry (boys), and cardboard construction (boys). Older students practice woodworking (boys); pattern-making, sewing, and cooking (girls); and attend classes in chemistry and agriculture (co-ed). Also of note--and perhaps worthy of further investigation--is the fact the two high school photographs showing co-ed classes also show African American students in class with white students, although Coffeyville did not officially have integrated schools at this time. Nine of the photos are not of industrial training, but clearly belong with the group. These show groups of older students, including shots of the Latin Club and Shakespeare Club, chapel attendance in the high school auditorium, normal training class (teacher training), and students involved in YMCA and YWCA activities.