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September 2017 Newsletter

Featured Item: Gooseneck Lamps

Article: A Historical Timeline of Schooling in America

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It’s Autumn—back to school!

Original Artwork by Cal Haves


As Summer turns into Autumn, September is upon us and that means one big thing to a kid – going back to school. No more free, fun times – days will be occupied with attending school, almost like having a real job. There will be new friends to make, holiday social activities, lots of school projects and homework with an eye on moving on up and out into a successful future. To us older kids we may feel a touch of nostalgia; memories of our old school days past.

But going to school today is profoundly different from the past, even compared to my day. In researching this article I was surprised to learn how relatively new our educational system is; even that education is available to us at all. Scroll down for the interesting facts in the Article section: A Historical Timeline of Schooling In America.


In keeping with this month’s theme of going back to school we present two unique desk lamps that will do a nice job of lighting the evening's homework. Scroll down to Featured Items, Gooseneck Desk Lamps.

Enjoy our September Newsletter


Featured Item
Featured Item
Note: Each item presented is a one-of-a-kind work of art available for purchase. Should any item sell, there are no duplicates.   Contact us about any similar items. 

Two Gooseneck Desk Lamps 

Looking for a distinctive accent lamp for your home? Look no further than our decorative Victorian and Art Nouveau gooseneck desk lamps.

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Featured Article



Education was not always an automatic given in societies. Sure, since ancient times students sat under a tree listening to the All-Wise-One, but receiving an education was usually reserved for the privileged. Most of the population struggled in ignorance, marked their “X” and were often hoodwinked.

Even in our country since Colonial times, establishing schools for the general populace was often a radical idea and a hard-fought battle even as recent as the 1950’s with the desegregation of our schools, for example.

As you read down this brief time line of the history of our American schools, you may be surprised to learn how contemporary some of our educational legislature is. I hope it inspires you to look further into this subject and to appreciate all that our forefathers set forth for us.

Note: I do dwell a little longer on schooling during the Victorian Era since that was Tiffany’s time as a youth.

Were you a fresh kid in school? Did you throw spitballs, pass notes, pull pig-tails, fidget? Well, during Tiffany's time you would have been severely punished, made to sit in a corner wearing the shameful dunce cap, or be expelled. You would have received a caning from the teacher and probably from the principal as well and later a whipping from your parents.

My, how times have changed.

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Spare the rod - spoil the child!


Most education took place at home. Colonial children were taught daily life, farming skills and reading The Holy Bible.


  • Was not a function of the government.

  • Only Quakers established schools which included all races and females.

  • 1635 – Boston Latin School, Massachusetts, first public school & oldest existing school in the U.S.

  • Wealthy children were taught the family business or tutored for European colleges.

School Curriculum

  • Consisted of the three R’s; reading, writing, simple ‘rithmatic, and Christian religion.


  • Ranked just below religious leaders. Job requisites: No drinking, smoking, dating or marrying. Mandatory church attendance, participation in civic events, visit the sick and clean the school.

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School curriculum included

teaching the Christian religion.


  • Education was seen as a vehicle for making a better society, promote ideas of freedom & liberty.

  • Benjamin Franklin expanded education to all who could pay tuition - regardless of religious beliefs, began the first public library.

  • Thomas Jefferson introduced free elementary schools paid for by local governments, established the University of Virginia.

  • For most, there was little education after elementary school.

School Curriculum

  • Wealthy boys were taught profitable trades such as agriculture, business and shipping. Girls were educated for their roles as cultivated wives and mothers, learned music and speaking French.

  • Southern colonies taught slaves only skills useful to their owners.


  • Were models of good citizenship, taught obeying laws and respecting authority.

THE FEDERAL ERA  1776 – 1840

After the American Revolution, former colonial English subjects are now Americans.

THE VICTORIAN ERA (Tiffany’s Boyhood) 1840 - 1880

American way of life was significantly altered by: invention of the sewing machine and washing machine, gold discovered in California, realized injustice of slavery.

School Curriculum

  • 1870 - Kindergarten established by German educator for children under the standard school age of 7.

  • In addition to the Three R’s, perfect penmanship by the Palmer Method was added.

  • Teaching lacked creativity; consisted of the teacher writing the lesson on the chalkboard and the children copying it down on their slates, learned by rote reciting.

  • Victorian children used an Abacus for arithmetic which was their version of the modern day calculator.


  • Teachers taught all grades, paid low salaries by community members.

  • Most Victorian teachers were strict, scary old maids; would beat children with a Birchwood cane for truancy to laziness in the classroom. Slow learners were humiliated, sat in a corner wearing a dunce cap. Schools were an 8-hour uncomfortable place for children.

Wearing A Dunce Cap


  • 1840 - Education was still none to minimal for the general population.

  • 1848 – Multi-aged classrooms of 6 to 14-year-olds replaced by assigning students in grades by age.

  • 1850 - Formal teacher-training schools established replacing teachers learning on the job.

  • 1862 - The Morrill Act gave federal land grants to establish colleges in every state.

  • 1865 - After the Civil War first African American colleges were founded.

  • 1870 - Northern states enacted first nonsectarian, tax-subsidized, free public elementary schools. However, most schools were segregated with very limited funding for African American schools.

  • Southern planter states did not support public education. Their children had private tutors.

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The new century saw drastic changes: Waves of European, Eastern European immigrants, poverty & disease widespread, schools overcrowded with 80 students to a classroom teacher.


  • Native American children in US government schools were forced to abandon their language and culture.

  • 1893 - Progressives fought to extend the allowable age to leave school from 11 years to the present-day age of 16 years.

  • 1900 - Thousands of new public schools opened.

  • 1920 - completion of elementary school mandatory by law in all states. Parents would be prosecuted for child’s truancy.

School Curriculum

  • 1907 – Maria Montessori schools opened; concept of classroom stimulation, less rote learning.  

  • Prior to WW I (1914-1918) German was the preferred language studied.

  • 1917 - Smith-Hughes Act established federal funds for vocational & trade education. Night school programs were set up to Americanize new immigrants.


  • Formed labor unions to improve pay, working conditions.

  • Progressives opened the way for hiring Irish Catholic and Jewish teachers.


Early 1920s America was the most industrialized country in the world. Economic prosperity increased the consumer middle class.


  • 1929 - The New York Stock Market crashed putting the country into the Great Depression.

  • Schools faced hardships due to citizens unable to pay taxes.

  • Children went to work to help support families instead of attending school.


Lorena’s Parents - A Personal Story

My father went as far as the 6th grade; my mother left school in the 8th grade.


My father’s minimal formal education was typical of most kids during the tough Depression years. He quit school in the 6th grade to work in the family factory in the Bronx, NY, (converted old horse stables attached to the house). They dyed silks for Manhattan’s couturier fashion houses. In his adult life, “street smarts” was the practical education that served my father in his construction business, building homes in Florida.

The Calcagni brothers take a factory break (my father r.)

My mother was shy, a dreamer, afraid of the strict teachers and was always self-conscious of the rag-clothes she wore to school in New Rochelle, NY. She would recount to me about the day she left school in the 8th grade for good; how the teacher reprimanded her for burning the pudding in home economics class and gave her detention to stay after school. She was sitting alone at her desk when the janitor came in later that evening. When she told him why she was still there, the janitor gave her permission to leave. She ran all the way home and never returned to school. As my mother, she would sing rhymes to us kids and draw beautiful portrait sketches of her two-favorite silver-screen stars, Janette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy singing duets.

School Curriculum

  • No money for books and school supplies.

  • Children depend on free school hot lunch program.

  • 1930 - Dick and Jane Readers published which helped standardize education up to 1960.

  • 1940 - 50% of Americans had earned a high school diploma up from 9% in 1910.

My mother, the artist


  • During the Great Depression teachers taught shorter school year, average pay was $15 a month.

THE GREAT SOCIETY, Post World War II 1945 - 1960

The Atomic age ushers in the U.S. as the most powerful country in the world rebuilding & investing in postwar-torn countries.


  • 1944 - GI Bill passed by Congress granting monetary benefits to veterans for postwar education.

  • 1950 - big Communist scare in U.S. schools, many teachers suspected.

  • 1954 - U.S. Supreme Court declares segregated schools unconstitutional. Southern states violently oppose.

  • 1965 - federal scholarships and low-interest loans are set up for college students.

School Curriculum

  • French, language of diplomacy, popular.

  • 1950 - introduced children’s educational tv programs, educational toys, school field trips.

  • 1960 - Spanish language popular reflecting the new population.


  • Men equally in the profession.

  • Breakdown of student respect for authority.

  • Teachers spend more time disciplining “juvenile delinquents” in classroom.


It's Howdy Doody Time!  Public school kids in the Bronx 1950.
 Lorena Calcagni, R. middle row, black peacoat, kerchief, bangs. 


Few schools start the school day with students greeting the teacher, pledging allegiance to the flag, have assembly day, require cursive writing, have mandatory recess, mandatory arts class.

School Curriculum

  • Focuses on development of 21st century skills – science, technology, money; less on ideals, arts, spirituality.


  • Physical punishment to students prohibited. Modern student dress would shock past society.

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