We must educate or we must perish, is a saying that has met the approval of intelligent citizens everywhere. Schools well supported and properly conducted are the cheap defense of nations. Happy is the land whose marks show that the school-master is abroad. The education of the whole man, body, soul and spirit, is the panacea for most of the ills that afﬂict the commonwealth.
~ Richard J. Fraise, 1888 History of Beaver County, Pennsylvania
They seem rare today, but during the 1800s through the early 1900s, one-room school houses in America (and throughout the world) were common, especially in rural communities and small towns. Even where larger high schools existed, one-room school houses were the institutions that provided for elementary education, typically grades one through eight.
During Beaver County’s frontier days and stretching well into the 20th century, nearly every rural township and borough had a one-room school house. In fact, the county had more than 97 schools by 1859, according to the County Schools Superintendent, T. C. Carothers. Twelve new schools were built in that year alone. Most of our youth were educated in this type of setting, assuredly using the Bible as a primary textbook and then adopting the McGuffey Readers in the mid 1800s to learn not only language arts but also about personal, community, civic, and religious moral values. The McGuffey lessons were central to a common curriculum provided to students throughout the county.
So generally speaking, what generations of Beaver Countians learned over a century and a half about literacy, civics, science, math, history, art, music, and geography came from the same instructional wellspring. Without question, the one-room school house was the foundation of literate society. The teaching and learning that took place in our one-room school houses profoundly influenced social, political, and economic life throughout the county.
In fact, it is almost certain that our county’s industrial revolution spanning the 19th and 20th centuries could not have been possible if it were not for the compulsory free schooling and mass literacy movements in one-room school houses that educated generations of working class Beaver Countians.
Elements of this presentation have been specifically designed for those with hearing and visual impairments to include both audio and text. Modifications to the volume and size of print of this page can be made through your computer’s adaptive display settings.
In this innovative presentation, we explore the sounds of industry, which is generally defined as the processing of raw materials and the manufacturing of goods in factories, mills, or other such facilities. But here we also include agriculture and transportation as part of our complex of industrial activity.
We might even consider as important the sounds of “stuff” created by industry. The brief sound montage presented here (“Sounds of things from the 1970s”) is a sonic demonstration of things in use–ordinary sounds from daily life that we tend to take for granted until presented to us as part of the historical record of our material culture. We explore this topic a little more in our section, “Listening to History.”
In our “Soundscapes” room you will have a chance to hear examples of our industrial landscape–past and present. Some of our sonic samples are a cacophony; swirling around you are loud and chaotic soundscapes of machinery in motion. Listen to the tradesmen cutting, hammering, milling, and joining materials together. In other sound clips, you will hear a work done in more bucolic settings, such as on the farm, in the fields, and along the rivers.
Our “Recording History” section will give you a sense of how soundscapes are recorded, and how you can become a local history recordist to help capture, preserve, and share the soundscapes of our lives.
And finally, our “Reading Room” is where you will find a wide range of resources for further research and study.
This exhibit and the Little Beaver Historical Society Podcast are productions of The Social Voice Project. We welcome factual corrections and meaningful clarifications regarding the content on this page.