Public Schools (Lawrence, MA) LH 2006.32

This large (40 linear feet) and complex collection of school records is divided up into six series.  The first one has been called both proof of birth and birth registration records.  There are seventy-three boxes of of approximately 8000 records. These records demonstrate the age of an individual.  If there is proof that the person is 14 years or older he or she can work legally.  The form this proof takes varies: passports, baptismal certificates, letters from clergy, and birth certificates.

The second and third series are continuation school records: the second series is only girls and the third is only boys.  These are traditional school records including name, dates, grades, address, academic history, and sometimes post school history.  They are enclosed in a folded over index card.  Interior pieces of paper are often included and are mostly comments by teachers.

The fourth set of records is high school records.  These do not contain academic records.  They do include both boys and girls and tells whether or not an individual was in school during the 1970s, which school they attended, and if they graduated.

The fifth series, on small index cards, is names of individuals who attended the Lawrence Training School, whether or not they graduated, and often where they went after graduation.

Finally miscellaneous includes three scrapbooks that chronicle the Lawrence Public Schools through newspaper clippings and other ephemera from 1897 to 1905, an account book from 1956 to 1965, and various documents like insurance policies, contracts, financial information, lists of foster children educated by the LPS, and Memorandum of agreement between the Lawrence school Committee and Harvard University for the study of the Lawrence schools 1954.

One of the duties that the School Department was required to do was to issue labor certificates to children between the ages of 12 and 14.  Proof of the date of birth of a child was needed to show that the child was to be excused from public education and allowed to be employed (School commit reports 1886 p. 58).  A new law (1888?) was enacted in Massachusetts which limited the employment of children to the minimum age of 13.  This was across the board.  Children under 13 could not even be employed during school vacation and those that were employed were required to be literate.  The law also required that for every child between the ages of 13 and 16, the father (if a resident of the City of Lawrence), must appear at the Child Labor office and make a deposition as to the age of the child (school comm. reports 1889 p. 12-14, 41-44).  The age was raised to 14 in 1895.  Children were required to attend 30 hours of schooling through the age of 14 (School comm. reports 1895 p.37-39).  The first mention of proof of birth comes in school committee reports 1902 p. 25-27.  The requirements were by records from city, town, school, or census for native born children.  Foreign born children required birth or baptismal records.  The parents were also required to swear to accuracy.  By 1904 4484 certificates had been granted.  Up until then the employer had to attest to the literacy of the child.  In 1904 the Superintendent of Schools needed to attest to the literacy of the individual.

The Lawrence Continuation School was started in 1920 by state law (Compulsory Continuation School Law) to allow children 14 and older to work in the mills and still attend school.  Funding allowed each municipality to share dollar for dollar with the state of Massachusetts.  Communities having more than 200 employed minors were required to create such an institution.  It required children to attend four hours of instruction, twenty hours if the student was not presently employed.  Half of the instruction was shop work for boys and household arts for girls.  The school was originally housed with the Industrial School on Common St. (School comm.. reports 1918 p. 9-11).  Francis X. Hogan, headmaster of the Rollins School, was appointed the first director of the school.  During the first year the school had 1700 pupils on paper and an actual attendance of 1400.  The program was discontinued in 1951.

The Practice School (also called the Training School) that had trained so many young women to be teachers started May 25, 1869 at the Cross Street School.  At that time they had four rooms and two pupils in each room.  They moved to Oak Street and used six rooms form 1873-1905.  Primary and Middle pupils were enrolled at the Oak Street School. The Training School students passed an elementary examination at the beginning of term.  The first term they worked without pay.  In following terms they were paid $10 per month.  (see Lawrence School Comm. Reports 1879 p. 16-20)The school again moved to the Gilbert E. Hood School in 1905 and remained there until it was abolished in 1922.  The length of course varied over the years: 1869-1879 one year wholly practice teaching; 1879-1896 one year normal work and one half year practice teaching; 1896-1901 one year normal work and on en a half year practice teaching; 1901-1910 (eight months consolidation with Lowell Normal School) three months undergraduate practice teaching and five months supplementary practice teaching School comm.. reports 1900 p.6-18; 1901 p. 8-11; 1902 p.13-14) ; and 1910-1922 (separation from Lowell Normal School) graduates only taking practice teaching.

Principals of the Training School:

  • 1869-1873 Louisa J. Faulkner and Jenny A. Reed
  • 1873-1874Fanny A. Reed and Lena D. Mallard
  • 1874-1879Fanny A. Reed and Clara Lear
  • 1879-1893 Lily P. Shepard, Principal
  • 1893-1922  Leila M. Lamprey, principal
  • 1879-1880 Clara Lean, Assistant
  • 1880-1883 Clara Wing, Assistant
  • 1883-1887 Janet G. Hutchins, Assistant
  • 1887-1893 L. M. Lamprey, Assistant
  • 1893-1921 Ella J. Eastman, Assistant
  • 1894-1924 Annie L O’Connor, Assistant
  • 1896- Emma J. Greenwood Assistant


If you want to access the birth records index:


If you want to access the Training School index:





3 Responses

  1. Just browsing the internet looking for any graduates from the Hood grammar school class of 1955. I understand that it was converted into a home for the elderly. My 8th grade teacher was Miss Carey. If I recall correctly the principal was Willam Sipsey? I currently live in Flagstaff, Arizona.

  2. wow I have been trying to find info I graduated in 55 also….would love to chat

  3. I graduated from the Hood School on Park St in 1954
    and went to essex aggie, I still see some of my old classmates (Louie Rozignolo, valerie Snell, Ted Hebert, Bob Hertrich, Josephine DeMarco, Ann ??? my Math tutor, Carol Pattivna, Ernie Pittochelli, Charlie DeFranscisco, Jackie Brady, etc, I then went to Essex Aggie in Hawthorne MA, Bill Sipsey Passed away a few years after I graduated, but I remember him. They
    actually tore the school down, and built apartments (that recently burned) (2010)

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