North Dakota Schools In The Early 1900s May Shock You. They’re So Different

It’s interesting to think of what it must have been like to grow up in the early 1900s here in the state of North Dakota. The first school ever built in North Dakota was in Bismarck and it was before the state was even a state at all. By the 1930s, student enrollment had increased but the quality of the schools and certification of teachers had declined due to the Great Depression. There was the issue with most children being on farms in rural areas and possibly too far to reach school.

It was a rocky road to establish a decent public school system in North Dakota to say the least, but we as a state strived to bring education to all children, even if at the time many students attended only grade school and did not graduate high school in favor of farm or other work at an early age. These following photographs were taken mainly in rural schools in North Dakota and show what a transition it has been from the one room school house to today.

Right now we sit at about 100,000 students enrolled in public schools in North Dakota. In 1923 that number was 176,000. Many of those students back then did not go on to graduate high school, while today we have an 87.5 percent graduation rate. Times have certainly changed not only in the looks of the schools but how we treat education in general.

Did any of this surprise you? If so, what? Share your thoughts or experiences in the comments – I found this to be a very interesting topic to research so I’d love to know what you think.