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KGI Online Library

The Kansas Government Information (KGI) Online Library
Kansas government publications, resources and information available from the State Library of Kansas

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Feb 13

Kansas School Laws, 1863-1965

Posted on February 13, 2020 at 12:01 PM by Bill Sowers

Collections of booklets with laws governing the operation of public schools in Kansas were published by the different state educational agencies under various titles for decades starting in the 1860s. Within the hallowed halls of the State Library of Kansas' KGI Online Library you'll find a virtual shelf full of these booklets dating from 1863 to 1965.

I know! I know! School laws... zzzzzz... But wait! Some of this stuff is interesting, giving us a look into the mindset of society years ago regarding the education of children and the duties of teachers, administrators and other school employees. Take a look at the 1863 School Laws book as an example.

One thing that jumps out is on page 4 of the 1863 book, "Constitution of state provides that no distinction shall be made between male and females." This included school district elections for most, but not all women. Voting rights were given to "white female persons over the age of twenty-one not subject to the disqualifications named in Section Second, Article Fifth of the Constitution of the State, and who shall be residents of the district at the time of offering to to vote." [page 23] The "hand that rocked the cradle" was sometimes allowed to mark ballots in school district elections as well.

The 1863 booklet has more than just school laws. One interesting section, starting on page 57, gives instruction on the construction of the school desk, with a simple graphic and a detailed description of construction. Sadly our copy of this section on school desks was damaged at the bottom of page 58 but you get the general idea of what the state expected for student seating.

At the end of the 1863 booklet is a list of school books recommended by the State Superintendent of Public Instruction. Among the books are: Wilson's Readers Series, Webster's Unabridged Dictionary, The Bible, Crowder's Moral Instruction, Wayland's Moral Science, Ray's Mathematics Series, Bryant and Stratton's Book Keeping, Pinneo's Grammar Series, Gray's Botany for Young People, and many more.

You can view the 1863 School Laws of Kansas as well as the years following it up to 1965 (it is an incomplete series) at the KGI Online Library here: