School days

New Brunswick Schools: A Guide to Archival Sources has all you want to know about education records
June was a wonderful month for us kids! Soon there would be no more lessons, no more books, no more teacher's dirty looks. But first we must get ready for the closing program.

Musical drills were practiced, recitations were recited and patriotic songs were sung in preparation for the big day. Not only did we prepare to entertain our parents, relatives and neighbours, but we decorated the interior of the schoolhouse. We carried in armloads of daisies, buttercups, blue flags, lilacs, blue bells and ferns. It was a sight to behold.

On the day of the Closing, we all came dressed in our best attire - the boys in white shirts and neckties, while the girls wore their good dresses and patent leather shoes.

After we finished entertaining the guests, the teacher presented prizes for perfect attendance and most improvement.

When the group moved outside, we enjoyed games with our friends, who had come up from the Smithtown East School. My favourite event was the relay race with an uncooked egg on a spoon. The adults had as much fun as the kids. A picnic lunch of sandwiches, cakes and cookies and, best of all, homemade ice cream, was a delight to all. The June closing was really a chance for a community gathering.

I just could not understand all those old folks doing so much talking about attending school. To hear them talk, one would think they had been sitting in those little wooden seats only yesterday.

Some of the men even searched the walls of the wood shed in hopes of finding their initials that had been carved there many years before.

Although school days were a very important time in our life, they probably played an even greater part in the educational and social development of kids in years gone by.

Everything you ever wanted to know about school records will be found in "New Brunswick Schools: A Guide to Archival Sources." This book was compiled by Diana Moore and Andrea Schwenke under the direction of E. R. Forbes. It describes the available primary material ­ manuscripts, official records, correspondence and other documents relevant to schools and teaching in our province.

The guide introduces the repositories and describes the material contained in each. Entries are organized and indexed alphabetically by institution. Each entry gives the name and local reference number of the collection in which the educational materials are found, the volume and the form of material contained there. It contains 548 detailed entries from 24 New Brunswick archives.

At the New Brunswick Museum you will find information about the Tabor family. John Tabor was born in 1807 in Quaco and taught school in several locations throughout Kings County. He also farmed and composed poetry until his death in Woodstock. This collection contains "Reminiscences of John Vaughan Tabor" which makes reference to his work as a school teacher, and to the requirements for teachers in the 1830s and 1840s.

"The Robertson Family Papers" holds a collection of samples of school work done by John Campbell Robertson, his son, James William Robertson, and Thomas Robertson, all of Hampton, circa 1819. There is a statement of Mary L. McGarity, a Hampton teacher, which lists her accounts with various parents circa 1850.

"The General Library Collection" gives reports of the Board of School Trustees for the City of Saint John 1872-1939.

Many interesting articles can be found in the "Saint John, New Brunswick, Board of School Trustees Record Books." There is a record of pupils admitted to public schools in 1883 to 1886 and a report of Portland schools from 1876 to1887.

"Educational Documents" at the Kings County Museum in Hampton, lists a description of the boundaries of the various school districts in Kings County in 1871.

Earl Walter taught school for a number of years in various locations throughout the province. His collection at the Quaco Museum and Library, St. Martins, contains a large number of school exercise books and normal school notes which belonged to him in. Also included are the normal school notes kept by Annie DeLong from 1905 to1908.

If you visit the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick in Fredericton, you will find 142 sources of school documents.

"New Brunswick Schools: A Guide to Archival Sources" is in several libraries in New Brunswick. Copies can be purchased from Council of Archives New Brunswick, P.O. Box 1204, Station A, Fredericton, N.B., Canada, E3B 5C8. The  PANB website is

By the way, the School Days Museum in Fredericton, co-ordinated by the Retired Teachers of New Brunswick, is collecting all and any school information, such as school pictures, text books, teacher's notes and scribblers.

Don't trash the artifacts of your school days, they may end up as genealogical treasures.

Ruby Cusack is a genealogy buff living in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada. Readers are invited to send their New Brunswick genealogical queries to Ruby at When E-Mailing please put Yesteryear Families in the Subject line. Please include in the query, your name and postal address as someone reading the newspaper, may have information to share with you but not have access to E-mail. Queries should be no more than 45 words in length.

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