September 2017

1940s School Potholder

School Potholder
This potholder, in the shape of a school house, was a gift made by the female students of the Excelsior School District No. 41 in Lyons Township for their parents in the 1940s. Sewing skills were an important part of the curriculum in rural schools. More practical skills and an emphasis on education in agriculture, home economics, and manual training became more popular after World War I. Gardening and corn contests provided a means for teaching agriculture, and cooking and sewing techniques were taught in home economics.

Our latest exhibit, Up Hill Both Ways: One Room Schools, is based on Celia Benson’s book Rural Schools of Minnehaha County 1871-1971. Our potholder is not on display, but Up Hill Both Ways does share more about the curriculum and daily life of a school child and teacher in a one-room school. You can learn more by exploring the exhibit on the third floor of the Old Courthouse Museum or by purchasing Ms. Benson’s book in the Museum Store.

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