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Few institutions have been held in such fond regard and recalled in such nostalgic terms as the little red schoolhouse. It ranks with the old oaken bucket, the little brown church in the vale, and the pictures of the old home place that millions of people have carried in that “inward eye” mentioned by Wordsworth on that long-past spring day. But the Kentucky common schoolhouses were not painted red as were those of New England; they were mostly white, if not of unpainted log construction.
It was not the simple little boxlike schoolhouse itself that earned all that fond affection. What happened on the way to and from school, on the playground, and within the school walls are all treasured in the memory banks of former pupils in much the same manner as families recall their happy evenings around the fireside or those trips to grandmother’s house for Thanksgiving.
But the little white schoolhouse is gone, along with the simple agrarian way of life that characterized the people of the neighborhood to which it belonged. To ensure that this era of education is not forgotten Ellis F. Hartford has presented the history of one-room schoolhouses in the Commonwealth, showing what has been lost in the passing of this institution of the values that best characterized its time and place. Americans might well seek some of the same strengths and values in their diverse communities that were enjoyed by our ancestors of the old rural-agrarian way of life. We might also strive to obtain schools that fit and belong to their respective communities as did the little white schoolhouse.
Ellis F. Hartford was a professor of education at the University of Kentucky.
Evokes 'big' bittersweet memories, reactivating the sense of loss at the passing of one-room schools. -- Lexington Herald-Leader
It will awaken long-dormant memories in the minds of all old-timers who ever sat on a scholars' bench in a one-room school. -- The Register of the Kentucky Historical Society
A realistic if somewhat nostalgic look at an institution still within the memory of many Kentuckians. Hartford first traces the efforts of the state to establish schools and then shows how the one-room schools served as places for learning as well as community centers well into the mid-twentieth century. The most important parts of the book are those which describe everyday school life, the recreations, and other customs associated with the one-room school. -- Kentucky Folklore Record
The University Press of Kentucky
Place of Publication
Public schools, Kentucky, School size
Appalachian Studies | Education
Hartford, Ellis F., "The Little White Schoolhouse" (1977). Education in Appalachian Region. 1.