Days Gone By - stories from the past

Vintage 1939 photographs of the progress in education and schools at Gee’s Bend, Wilcox County, Alabama

During 1937, the  Federal Resettlement agency (a part of Roosevelt’s New Deal program) purchased the old Pettway plantation and two adjacent farms in the poverty stricken community of Gee’s Bend. The following year, a nurse began working in the community, and construction began for a school, store, blacksmith shop, and cooperative cotton gin.


By 1939 enough visible change had occurred to send Mary Post Wolcott to the community to photograph the signs of progress—to get the “after” pictures. During the 1940s, many families at Gee’s Bend bought their farms from the government for an average of $1,400 each. This was about $2,600 less per farm than the eighty-eight units had cost the government, a subsidy that seems to have been fairly typical for Farm Security Administration projects of this type. The photographs below show the new school and the progress made in education at Gee’s Bend.

At Gee’s Bend, most of the children of all ages had not been taught to read in 1939 so there was a considerable disparity in the age range in these photographs of the 1st grade class below

school - first grade 3

school - first grade 3

school - first grade2

 

A sewing project
school - sewing projects

Girls making mats from corn shucks

 

Girls learning office and secretarial skills
school - learning office skills

School - students learning office and secretarial skills helping principal

 

 

Students making a tableschool - making a table in shop class

Students in Science classschool - science class

Robert Pierce, school principal, directs a science class making experiments with soils, Gees Bend, Alabama

Principal directs science class - experiments with soil

School choir led by Robert Pierce, school principal. They won state championship. Gee’s Bend, Alabama

School Choir led by Robert Pierce, principal, They won state championship, photo taken by M. P. Walcott

 

Principal teaching student to make a hoe

Principal teaching student to make a hoe

Students worked in the school garden

School - Children at work in school garden

Working in school garden

More supervised games at school recess

School - more supervised games at recess

school - children supervised games

Supervised games

Rehearsing the maypole dance for May Day, health day exercise. Gees Bend, Alabama

These students are rehearsing the May Pole dance for May day

There were adult classes as well for those wanting to learn.

Juanita Coleman (Miss or Mrs.), teacher and NYA (National Youth Administration) leader, listening to one of her pupils in adult class read. She has just learned, is eighty-two years old and best in class. They meet in old church building for reading, writing, arithmetic, and general discussion and educational activities. Gee’s Bend, Alabama, photograph by M. P. Walcott

Juanita Coleman (Miss or Mrs.), teacher and NYA (National Youth Administration) leader, listening to one of her pupils in adult class read. She has just learned, is eighty-two years old and best in class. They meet in old church building for reading, writing, arithmetic, and general discussion and educational activities. Gee's Bend, Alabama, photograph by M. P. Walcott

Juanita Coleman helps during recreation time for adult class. In the church she teaches them to read and write and to discuss any interests and problems. Gees Bend, Alabama

1939 Juanita Coleman helps during recreation time for adult class.

Teachers and nurses lived in houses at Gee’s Bend

Teacher's and nurse's homes. Gee's Bend, Alabama, photograph 1939

Two homes for teachers

See more photographs of Gee’s Bend

Biographies of Notable and Not-so-Notable Alabama Pioneers Vol. I

Revised with direct links to many sources and burial sites! This book includes the genealogy of and biography of William Barrett Travis of Alamo fame and Elisha Cottingham, the Alabama descendants from the Tapestry of Love, Historical Fiction Series by Donna R. Causey. Check out all Alabama Pioneers Biography books.

 

 

Biographies of Notable and Not-so-Notable: Alabama Pioneers (Biographies of Notable and Not-so-Notable ALABAMA PIONEERS Book 1)


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About Donna R Causey

Donna R. Causey, resident of Alabama, was a teacher in the public school system for twenty years. When she retired, Donna found time to focus on her lifetime passion for historical writing. She developed the websites www.alabamapioneers and www.daysgoneby.me All her books can be purchased at Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble. She has authored numerous genealogy books. RIBBON OF LOVE: A Novel Of Colonial America (TAPESTRY OF LOVE) is her first novel in the Tapestry of Love about her family where she uses actual characters, facts, dates and places to create a story about life as it might have happened in colonial Virginia. Faith and Courage: Tapestry of Love (Volume 2) is the second book and the third FreeHearts: A Novel of Colonial America (Book 3 in the Tapestry of Love Series) Discordance: The Cottinghams (Volume 1) is the continuation of the story. . For a complete list of books, visit Donna R Causey

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2 comments

  1. Conditions look better than what I grew up in at Pelham.

  2. These are fascinating pictures. They almost come alive. Thanks for posting them.

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