17-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today:
Friday, January 24, 1913: Didn’t have any visitors at our literary meeting this afternoon, and I was rather glad that we didn’t.
Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:
Members of the Literary Society at Grandma’s high school presented recitations and dialogues at their meetings. Apparently, guests were always welcome.
Grandma’s went to a tiny one-room high school (The high school was on the second floor of the building; there was a primary school on the first floor).
The school was such an integral part of the social fabric of the community that it merited mention in the diary not when there were visitors at the meeting, but rather when there were none.
The school obviously had many limitations, yet I have a gut feeling there was something special about the small community-based schools a hundred years ago.
According to the June, 1913 issue of The Rural Educator:
We must, at the outset, recognize that the social institutions are the machines through which social energy works. There is abundant social energy in every rural community. The center of intellectual activities of the community should be the rural school.