Days Gone By - stories from the past

One-room schoolhouses were popular in early Alabama as these photographs indicate

Education was important to early pioneers of Alabama. One-room schoolhouses, log houses in communities, private homes, schoolhouses on large plantations, private academies, and mission schools sprang up all over the state.

The University of Alabama, founded in 1831, was one of the oldest and the largest of the universities in Alabama.

This song “Po’ Child” was performed by Dock “Zebediah” Reed (vocals) on the porch of home of Mr. & Mrs. W.P. Tartt, Livingston, Alabama, on May 26, 1939. It is part of the John and Ruby Lomax 1939 Southern States Recording Trip collection at the Library of Congress.

However, the education was not equal throughout the state. “In the early 1900s, education in Alabama still suffered from short school terms, low funding, and racism.” Some children received an excellent education while others were drastically below standards as can be seen by the photographs below.

The Education Governor

Braxton Bragg Comer, who served as governor from 1907 to 1911, became known as “the education governor.” He pushed through legislation that required a high school in every county, and by 1918, 57 of 67 counties had a high school. He increased funding for schools and set compulsory school attendance until age 16.”

In the early 1900s, many children were required to work in factories to help support their families rather than attend school. Some Textile Mills tried to solve the problem by setting up schools next to the factories so children could attend school in the morning and work in the afternoon. This was not always successful as photojournalist Lewis Wickes Hine documented in the photographs below when he visited Alabama in around 1913. The notes with the photographs were written by Lewis Wickes Hine.

The Textile Mills often set up schools beside their factories.Mill School at the Merrimack Mills, Huntsville, Alabama 1910 Lewis Wickes Hines

The school above was outside view of the Mill School at the Merrimack Mills, tucked away upstairs over the store. Equipped with antique, dilapidated benches and chairs. The lessons begin at 6 A.M. and last for six hours, and these children who attend in the morning go into the mill in the afternoon and vice versa for the required eight weeks, which the law specifies. Taking everything into consideration it shows what a travesty vocational guidance may become, and is in itself the best example of Dotheboys Hall I have ever seen, except that it is not half so practical as was Squeer’s school. See Hine report. Location: Huntsville, Alabama.The Mill School at Anniston Dec. 1914 Lewis Wickes Hine

This picture above is the mill school of the Anniston Mfg. Co. These are boys at the mill school who have to make the 8 weeks schooling for the year. The school is miserably equipped. Willie Laty, the shortest boy, said he was 10 years old, and been working there about 1 year. He and the other boy said he had a job as a spinner and sweeper, but that he had just been fired (probably after the boss saw the investigator photograph them.) Collie Webb and Archie Croll are also probably under 12, and some girls not in this photograph. Location: Anniston, Alabama.Group of children attending the mill school at Barker Cotton Mills Mobile Alabama October 1914 Lewis Wickes Hine

Above is a group of children attending the mill school at Barker Cotton Mills. These children are well-kept at home, and well-directed in school. School is sanitary and well-equipped. School attendance is compulsory. Deputy in mill acts as the truant officer. If parents neglect to send children to school, they are requested to move out. The whole situation reflects the good management of the superintendent. Location: Mobile, Alabama.The Mill School at Avondale, Birmingham, Alabama Nov. 1910 Lewis Wickes Hine

This is the Mill School at Avondale. The mill gate is but a few feet to the right of the photo and the employees pass through the schoolyard continually. From all I could gather on the question, the school is only a makeshift, because the mill children go here only the eight weeks of the year to comply with the law. Attendance is irregular. In the lowest first grade, with a child of six years, were two girls of fourteen and fifteen who had been to school but two weeks in their lives. Location: Birmingham, Alabama.


  1. Library of Congress
  2. Encyclopedia of Alabama

Vinegar of the Four Thieves was a recipe that was known for its antibacterial, antiviral, antiseptic and antifungal properties for years. It was even used to cure the Bubonic Plague. See Thomas Jefferson’s recipe in VINEGAR OF THE FOUR THIEVES: Recipes & curious tips from the past


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 All her books can be purchased at 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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