The Goop Directory

18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today:

Thursday, October 16, 1913:

10/13 – 10/17: Nothing worth writing about for these days. Don’t go any place or do anything of much importance.

Goop.3

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

This is the fourth of five days that Grandma combined into one entry. Since she didn’t write anything specific for this date I’m sharing several pages from a fun children’s book published in 1913 that I found.

The book is called The Goop Directory and contains short scenarios of children who were naughty—or, using the terminology in the book, “Goops.”

title page

title page

Goop.1

Goop.2

The book that I have was well-loved—perhaps that isn’t exactly the right term—and some pages have coloring on them.

Other pages have remnants of names written in pencil that were later erased.  I can just picture a child going through the book and identifying which of their playmates were like each of the characters in the book. Obviously a Goop once owned this book!

Goop.5

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Hundred-Year-Old Rural Math Problems

18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Wednesday, October 15, 1913:

10/13 – 10/17: Nothing worth writing about for these days. Don’t go any place or do anything of much importance.

Source: Rural Arithmetic (1913)

Source: Rural Arithmetic (1913)

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

I’m still fascinated by the 1913 textbook I found called Rural Arithmetic by John E. Calfee that I mentioned the previous two days. Since Grandma didn’t write anything specific for this date a hundred years ago, I am going to share a few more problems today.

Here are the problems:

1.  If a cord of wood for cooking purposes lasts a family 3 weeks, how much does the family pay out in the course of a year for cook-stove wood when wood is $2 per cord? . . . when wood is $3 per cord?

2. If a quail, in the course of a year, eats 25¢ worth of grain, and destroys $2 worth of harmful insects and weed seed, how much has a farmer injured himself by killing 3 pairs of quails if a pair raise a brood of 12 each year?

3. If the water running from a piece of land that has been planted with corn contained 1 pound of sediment for every 250 gallons of water, how much soil was carried away from a 40-acre corn field after a 2-inch rainfall, with 1/4 of the water running off?

4. If a team travels 16 1/2 miles a day with a breaking plow, how many days work can a man save in plowing 30 acres (110 rod by 43 7/11 rod) by using a 16-inch instead of a 12-inch plow?

5. A county store on a gravel road pays 1¢ a mile for each 100 pounds of freight hauled from the railroad station.; a county seat of the same road 24 miles from the railroad, 18 miles of which are not gravel, pays 2¢ a miles for hauling 100 pounds of freight. What is the annual bad-road tax paid by this county seat upon 300,000 pounds of freight?

rural.arithmetic.p. 86

rural.arithmetic.p. 87

It’s amazing how much you can learn about routine activities (as well as issues and challenges) a hundred years ago from word problems.

It’s also intriguing to think about how pedagogical experts a hundred years ago must have believed that it was important to have textbooks with problems that were designed specifically for the rural context that the students experienced in their day-to-day lives.

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1913 Math Problems Designed to Motivate Students to Get an Education

18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Tuesday, October 14, 1913:

10/13 – 10/17: Nothing worth writing about for these days. Don’t go any place or do anything of much importance.

Postcard with picture of Old Main at Penn State (postally used: 1908)

Postcard with picture of Old Main at Penn State (postmark: 1908)

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Since this is the second of five days that Grandma combined into one diary entry, I’m going to pick up where I left off yesterday.

Yesterday, I told you a little about a 1913 math textbook called Rural Arithmetic by John E. Calfee that included a section titled “Educated Labor.” That section included word problems apparently designed to motivate students to continue their education.

Here’s a couple problems from the book:

1.  Two classmates leave the country school, one for work for 75¢ a day with board; the other borrows $250 and goes away for 3 years to a trade school and learns a trade which pays him $1.75 a day with board. Counting each able to average 285 days a year, at the end of 10 years from the time they leave the country school which will have earned more money?

2. The average salary of the man who has completed a college course is about $1000 a year, and the average wages of the man who has completed the common-school studies [an 8th grade education] are almost $450. If it takes 1440 days to complete a high-school and college course, what is the average value of each day spent in taking such a course? (The college-trained man spends 8 years of the work period in school, and has an annual expense of $450 for college.)

Rural Arithmetic (1913)

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The Problem with Tests and Exams a Hundred Years Ago

18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Tuesday, April 15, 1913:  Tomorrow witnesses the beginnings of our final examinations. I do hope that I’ll pass.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Hang in there Grandma—you’re almost there. Your graduation invitations have been mailed. You’ll navigate your way through this final hurdle.

The way students are tested today is controversial. I was amazed to discover that people also had concerns about exams a hundred years ago.

Here is an excerpt from an article in the October 1912 issue of Ladies Home Journal called “The Black Beast in Every Child’s School Life”:

No evil in the present American public-school system is, to my mind so great and so manifestly unjust to the pupil as what may very aptly be called “the black beast of every child’s school life”: examinations, as they for the most part now are conducted. .

Examinations, as they are now almost universally conducted in our schools, are a memory extortion pure and simple. An examination is supposed to be a final twist which will forever fix in the memory as a whole the items that have been put into it one at a time.

Why should we longer put our children to these terrible strains as we do now? I have tried to think out a good reason and I am unable to do so.

The dictionary is always at hand when the pupil is studying his lesson, and so can be referred to at will. Besides this the grammar is always accessible, to explain new an unusual forms and phrases that appear in it.

But when examination day s comes every one of these rightful and useful helps in his work is taken away from him, and arm’s length of memory alone if he is asked to translate, give forms of words and account for constructions, without any assistance from the tools that he ordinarily has been permitted to use.

Memory-test examinations must be abolished. Time was when the word “scholar” meant a wailing dictionary. There are too many words now, and knowledge has too vast a reach, to be compressed into any one single head. Besides, what’s the use? Dictionaries are cheap. The missions can have cyclopedias now; and things are so much easier to get at, so much more reliable withal so much more liable to keep in any climate when preserved for ruse in this way.

Did Students Memorize Dates in History a Hundred Years Ago?

17-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Tuesday, February 4, 1913: We had an exam in General History this morning. It was a review of all we had gone over this year. I was so afraid I’d make a sorry mark, so I began to review but I didn’t get over it all. I got some things wrong, but then I know I got more right. At least I think so.

Picture on page 155 of the hundred-year-old textbook

Roman Fleet (Source: Outlines of General History by V.A. Renouf)

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Did Grandma need to memorize dates for the exam?

Here’s what the Suggestions for Teachers section of a hundred-year-old text-book had to say about memorizing dates:

In conclusion, I will touch on the question of learning dates. These should be memorized by all students. It is well to bring as many events as possible into relation with a memorized date. The few students who have a ready memory for dates can be encouraged to remember most or all of them; but the majority of the class should not be burdened with more than are necessary for a correct general perspective of the centuries.

Outlines of General History (1909)  by V.A Renouf

Would a history teacher today agree or disagree with this suggestion?

The book also included some sample questions that teachers might use. I did a previous post that included a few of the sample questions:

History Test Questions a Hundred Years Ago

Studied Russo-Japanese War in History Classes a Hundred Years Ago

17-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Thursday, January 30, 1913: Am commencing to worry about a certain general history examination that comes next week. It includes over seven hundred pages. I hope to review it all.

Port.Arthur

Caption: Port Arthur Harbor After the Surrender. Source: Outlines of General History (1909)

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

At Grandma’s school some classes were less than a year long.  Since the exam  was going to cover more than 700 pages, it probably was the final exam for general history.

A general history textbook published  in 1909, called Outlines of General History, probably covers material similar to what Grandma learned.

The last chapter of the book begins with a picture taken after the surrender of Port Arthur. This siege occurred during the Russo-Japanese War.

The Russo-Japanese War took place during 1904 and 1905. Russia controlled Port Arthur and had rail lines from Siberia to the port. It was an ice-free port and could operate during the winter months.

Japan wanted to control the harbor and there were several battles at Port Arthur which the Japanese won.

The Russo-Japanese War ended when a  peace  treaty was signed at Portsmouth New Hampshire on September 5, 1905. It was mediated by President Theodore Roosevelt .

The last two paragraphs in the hundred-year-old general history textbook say:

. .  . the treaty of Portsmouth has guaranteed for China a period of security. The Manchurian question, to be sure is not yet definitely settled. Article V of the Portsmouth treaty says: “The Russian and Japanese Governments engage themselves reciprocally not to put any obstacles in the way of the general measures, which shall be alike for all nations, that China may take for the development of commerce and industry of Manchuria.”

The interpretation of this article is still an open question. It may develop into an unconditional restoration of China’s sovereign rights in Manchuria, or it may also be nullified by the economic interests of Russia and Japan.

Outlines of General History (1909) by V.A. Renouf

The Roman Empire in a Hundred-Year-Old History Book

17-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Wednesday, November 20, 1912:  Had an exam in General History and although I looked over it some last evening, I got some questions that I was unable to answer correctly.

Picture of Roman Fleet and Harbor in the the hundred-year-old textbook

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

What was the test on?

Well . . . <<<drum roll please>>>>. . . . Grandma might have been studying the downfall of the Roman Empire.

Here’s how I figured it out:

I found a General History textbook published in 1909. (I bet Grandma’s book was at least a couple of years old).  Since it’s  about one-third of the way through the school year, the class was probably about one-third of the way through the book.

Hmm. . .. the book’s 476 pages long, so a third of the way through the book would have been  around page 159. Page 159 is in a chapter titled,  The Decay of the Roman Republic and the Growth of One-Man Power.

The chapter begins:

Political and Social Conditions of Rome After the Punic Wars.—The republican constitution of Rome was made for the government of a small city state. When the great part of the Mediterranean countries fell under the sway of Rome, her municipal government proved quite inadequate for the task of ruling so vast an empire. The earliest political result of the foreign wars was that the senate assumed almost exclusive control of the government. The popular assemblies could not understand the difficult questions  of foreign policy, and were glad to leave their settlement to the senate, which was made up of experienced statesmen and generals . . .

Outlines of General History by V.A. Renouf (1909)

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