1923 Teaching Contract

This is an article my grandmother had saved and she gave it to me the other day. Many of the stipulations in this teacher contract are understandable, if you consider it from the perspective of trying to keep the teacher as a moral example for the students (requiring her to avoid dubious-looking activities). Today, however, many of these things have no negative moral connotations (see number 14), though some still hold weight for many families. I hope you enjoy this article and get a chuckle out of it.

“The following article appeared in the December 22, 1975 issue of News-Enterprise, Rutherfordton, North Carolina. We felt the Star family would enjoy reading it. Yes, Times have changed.

“(Editor’s note: Each month, the Rutherford County Schools publishes “For Your Information”, a publication for the central staff, principals and teachers of the local schools and this month there was an article in it that we felt was worth publishing in the News-Enterprise. Be Thankful – Times have changed!)

A Hutchinson school boar member showed a copy of a 1923 teaching contract at the board meeting in which the teacher agreed not to keep company with men, not loiter downtown in icecream stores, not dress in bright colors and to comply with many more “nots”. She was to receive $75 a month for eight months. Her agreement read:

Miss _________ agrees:

  1. Not to get married. This contract becomes null and void immediately if the teacher marries.
  2. Not to keep company with men.
  3. To be home between the hours of 8pm and 6am unless in attendance at a school function.
  4. Not to loiter downtown in ice cream stores.
  5. Not to leave town at any time without the permission of the Chairman of the Board of Trustees.
  6. Not to smoke cigarettes. This contract becomes null and void immediately if teacher is found smoking.
  7. Not to drink beer, wine, or whiskey. This contract becomes null and void immediately if teacher is found drinking beer, wine or whiskey.
  8. Not to ride in a carriage or automobile with any man except her brother or father.
  9. Not to dress in bright colors.
  10. Not to dye her hair.
  11. To wear at least two petticoats.
  12. Not to wear dresses more than two inches above the ankles.
  13. To keep the schoolroom clean: a. to sweep the classroom floor at least once daily. b. to scrub the classroom floor at least once weekly with hot water and soap. c. to clean the blackboard at least once daily. d. to start the fire at 7 am so the room will be warm at 8 am when the children arrive.
  14. Not to use facepowder, mascara, or paint the lips.”


About Lady Fair

Lady is a musician with a bachelor's degree in music education. She plays multiple instruments and has participated in numerous musical ensembles, giving her a wide variety of experiences and knowledge to use in her teaching career. Of her ensemble participation, she has fifteen years of band experience, nine years choral, and four years in orchestra. Éowyn's primary instrument is clarinet, with voice and piano being close secondary instruments. Throughout her musical education career she studied voice and clarinet simultaneously. In addition to clarinet, piano, and voice, she has also studied violin and oboe at the college level, and also plays recorder, tin whistle, and other instruments in the woodwind family. If you ask her, she will say, "I chose to major in music education because I have a desire to use my knowledge and experience in music to share its beauty and foster a love of music in the hearts of my students. I hope to encourage my students to try their hardest, feel like they have accomplished something, and give them a life long passion for music." Lady currently teaches private lessons on clarinet, sax, flute, oboe, piano, and voice, and recently gained a position teaching orchestra and chorus at a local middle school. She is also a member of the Once Upon a Dream woodwind ensembles.
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