Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Workaday Wednesday: Connecticut's Teachers and Genealogy

    Like many nineteenth century and early twentieth century farmers, my ancestors also served as teachers. These experiences marked their transition from children to young adults. For the first time, they were living on their own and making a contribution to the family budget. They were out of the reach of their parents' rules and their parents' critique. In some cases, this was where they met their spouse. In short, it was a huge part of their lives.
     Yet, there are almost no records of their experience. Many worked in small local school houses. They boarded with and were paid by parents. In a few towns, the school's records have survived. In many others, however, the records are long gone. Sadly, this is the case with my ancestors' schools. Some teachers or students may have kept a memoir. Again, this is rare. How often do people record their lives in elementary school? n may family, these memoirs do exist, but they have never been formally published. Unless you were lucky enough to know someone with a copy, you wouldn't know they existed.
    So how do you find out more? Begin by checking the census. If your ancestor is a boarder in his/her teens or early twenties and was also listed as a farmer at another point in his/her life, you may have a teacher on your hands. Double-checking the occupation category may provide you a few more clues. Once you have that, start calling the town archives, historical societies, and libraries. Look for town or school records. They may have shown up in the budget or someplace else you'll never think of. I'll likely never find anything about one ancestor's service, but I know all the details about her sister's. It was buried in the local library's town history files. 

1 comment:

  1. There are a number of school register records which have survived. I know the town of Newtown School Registers survived. A transcription was used for the 1890 census substitute on the Genealogy Club of Newtowns website. Also, the town of Seymour,CT has some school registers from the 1890s which survived. They are currently at the Seymour CT Historical Society. In order to find school registers, you have to be resousceful and persistent.

    Regards, Jim
    Genealogy Blog at Hidden Genealogy Nuggets