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Apr 04

The State of Education in Kansas 150 Years Ago

Posted on April 4, 2019 at 4:12 PM by Bill Sowers

150 years ago Peter McVicar, State Superintendent of Public Instruction, issued the Eighth Annual Report of the Superintendent of Public Instruction of the state of Kansas.  The book gives a good look at education in the state from elementary to college level instruction.  

The Table of Contents touches just about every aspect of education:

Summary of Statistics -- Superintendent's Tour -- Assistant needed -- Enrollment of Colored Children -- Annual School Fund -- Permanent School Fund -- The Five Hundred Thousand Acres -- Lands lost by Indian Reservations -- The Osage Treaty -- Equivalents located -- Kansas Educational Journal -- Amendments to School Law -- State Institutions -- State University -- Agricultural College -- Normal School -- Blind Asylum -- Insane Asylum -- Deaf and Dumb Asylum -- Denominational Institutions -- Graded Schools -- Primary Schools -- Age of Admission -- Suitable Seats -- Word-method -- Map Drawing -- United States History and Constitution -- Architecture -- Ventilation -- Outhouses -- Ornamenting Grounds -- Permanency of Teachers -- Female Teachers -- Visiting Parents -- County Superintendency -- Salary of County Superintendents -- Teachers' Institutes -- Physical Culture -- Moral and Religious Instruction -- Conclusion -- APPENDIX -- Reports of Institutions -- University of Kansas -- State Agricultural College -- State Normal School -- Asylum for the Blind -- Baker University -- Lincoln College -- Episcopal Female Seminary -- Reports of County Superintendents -- Convention of County Superintendents -- Tables of Statistics -- Supplemental Reports of State Institutions.

One thing that jumped out at me as I skimmed the book was the author's statement about segregation of African American and white students in public schools.  Keep in mind that this is 1868:

"In some localities, a very great prejudice against the co-education of the races, still exists. It is noticeable, also, that the greater prejudice prevails in communities less advanced in general intelligence. In a few districts, schools for the white children, even, were entirely suspended, in order to deprive a few colored children of the “equal educational advantages” which the law guarantees to all the children of the State, irrespective of caste or color. The true policy is to let the statute remain impartial. General intelligence will dissipate prejudices. Separate schools, in small districts, are a waste of means. Why should the highest institutions of the State be open to colored children, and the public schools be closed? The only course worthy of a free people, is to give each child be he white or black, rich or poor a fair and equal chance in life, and let him work out his own destiny." (pages 3-4)

You can view a digitized copy of the 1868 Report online at: