Sunday, 23 November 2014

Sit up straight! It's time to dig out the school logs of 1914

Eyes straight ahead and hands out of sight: a class photo from 1914
Old letters and diaries are among the most popular primary sources for anyone researching the social history of a particular period in time. But there are many others of course. Reports of the old assizes courts bristle with fascinating detail and, on another tack completely, so do the school logs that used to be kept by all headteachers. School logs proved very useful when I was writing my book Bristol in the Great War (published September 2014) and they are bringing colour to the book I am writing at the moment, Dorchester, Weymouth and Portland in the Great War (out next year).

Below is a taste of these logs from 100 years ago. They were kept during the winter of 1914, just after the Great War had started, at schools around Bristol and on the Isle of or the Isle of Portland, Dorset. You won't find anything earth-shattering in the entries, but with mentions of the war, whooping cough, laundry classes and coal fires, the details could not be more evocative of a bygone age ...

Hambrook Evangelical School
November 23 - Some wounded soldiers visited the school this pm. The time table was suspended and the soldiers were entertained with country dancing & some patriotic songs.

November 27 - I [the headmaster] have obtained permission to attend the funeral of my uncle & to be absent for 2 or 3 days to assist my aunt, who is very aged, in making her arrangements for the future. Mrs Luff will take charge of the school during my absence.

Brinkworthy School, Stapleton

November 26 - To date 45 exclusions have been made for whooping cough.

November 30 - Received notice from LEA [Local Education Authority] that in view of the present circumstances, it has been decided that until 31st March next the school hours shall be from 2 to 4.15 in the afternoon.Two more exclusions for whooping cough were forwarded today.

Deccember 7 - School was closed by permission of LEA on Dec 7th & 8th for the purposes of a school play in aid of the school and War distress funds, and in which all the children were taking part.

All Saints School, Winterbourne Down

November 18 - The School visited by Mr Ward, to see about Laundry Classes. It was decided that none should be held at present.

November 26 - Colonel Lister, HMI [His Majesty's Inspector], visited the School late in the afternoon to speak about some bad behaviour at woodwork and cookery classes.

November 30 - School opened at 9.40, a service having been held at Church at 8.45.

December 4 - Owing to stormy weather, only 13 Infants were present in the afternoon, and the register was not marked.

Frenchay National School

November 9 - Miss Whale absent all day at London to be inoculated against typhoid fever, having volunteeered as a red Cross nurse for active service.

St George's Infant School, Portland

September 15 - Began coal fires today.

November 5 & 6 - Half day holiday each day, though owing to war there is no fair.

November 15 - Half day holiday there being a bazaar in the Jubilee Hall in aid of the Belgian Relief Fund and the fund for providing clothing for the Soldiers and Sailors.

These school logs are held by Frenchay Village Museum and the Portland Heritage Trust - my grateful thanks to both.

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