The Teacherage

Rules for Teachers €” 1915

1. You will not marry during the term of your contract.
2. You are not to keep company with men.
3. You must be home between the hours of 8 PM and 6 AM
unless at a school function.
4. You may not loiter downtown in any of the ice cream
stores.
5. You may not travel beyond the city limits unless you
have permission of the chairman of the chairman of the
school board.
6. You may not ride in carriages or automobiles with any
man except your father or brother.
7. You may not smoke cigarettes.
8. You may not dress in bright colors.
9. You may under no circumstances dye your hair.
10. You must wear at least 2 petticoats.
11. Your dresses may not be any shorter than 2 inches above
the ankles.
12. To keep the classroom neat and clean you must sweep the
floor once a day, scrub the floor with hot soapy water
once a week, clean the blackboards once a day and start
the fire at 7 AM to have the school warm by 8 AM when
the scholars arrive.

This list of rules for teachers has long since been proved apocryphal by Snopes.com.  It’s one of those things of dubious veracity which get passed around via e-mail, or printed on pseudo-parchment paper and sold at Cracker Barrel for an exorbitant amount.  It’s always pulled out to illustrate how you-may-think-it’s-bad-now-but-look-how-bad-it-was-back-then. (Although, it seems some politicians would have public teachers go back to those days.)

Even though the list is fake, there is more than a grain of truth to it, and I’ve even found some photographic evidence.  I was browsing through the South Carolina Online Archives, specifically, through the old school insurance photographs, and I came upon a term I’d not heard before – teacherage.  Similar to the word “parsonage”, it was a house or lodgings provided for teachers, most often unmarried females. Continue reading “The Teacherage”