The School Register
These pages for the School Register will be added to the original Saskatchewan One Room Schoolhouse Project
, which is now back online and up and running. http://sites.rootsweb.com/~cansk/school/
It is interesting to see that in the 1918 register, the school was closed for the month of November due to the flu epidemic, and in one of them the teacher records when cutting of crops starts, and threshing. A lot of the older children were away during those times. They went to school in July and August, but not in the winter, usually.
The School Registers are pretty interesting for the Saskatchewan One Room Schoolhouses. As there were over 5,000 one-room schools operational between about 1887-1970, and each one-room schoolhouse filled in their school registers every year, it meant that there were thousands of school registers around at one time. The register was a very important document, and teachers prided themselves on being able to show the school inspector a neat and accurate document. The condition of the register could even determine whether a novice teacher got tenure.
At normal school, trainees took a good part of the year learning how to fill in the register. It was the most important record in the school system, and the results would determine many aspects of education.
At the beginning of the term, the teacher had to neatly record, in ink, all the correct names of students and parents, birthdates, land locations, and other relevant data, on a chart at the front of the register. The teacher would ‘call the roll’, and check twice daily for attendance and absence- and the reason, which was usually provided by siblings or the other students. If a parent did send a note, the teacher made sure she kept it safe inside the front cover, where she usually fastened an envelope to receive such things.
The teacher was required to make the register ‘balance’ on the last school day of the month, which meant adding up, and writing in the space provided, all the days of individual attendance across the page, and all the classroom attendance going down the page, taking into consideration such things as absences, transfers in and out, teacher absences (if any), schoolroom closures due to weather or whatever. These two sums had to be the same. Then a person had to ascertain the percentage of attendance for the month. This information was then all transferred to a form, which was submitted –all written with ink- to the school inspector (or the principal in a larger school), as soon as possible.
This procedure had to be completed before the teacher left the school on the last school day of each month, and it had to be absolutely correct. (Remember, there were no calculators, and no way to re-do if an ink mistake was made, -and there were no spare pages in the register, so teachers spent many agonizing hours getting it right.)
In the case of a larger school, the principal had to compile the information onto a further form and submit that to the superintendent immediately at the end of each month. In our case, at Youngstown, Alberta, once the principal got all the month-ends in from his teachers, he had to do up his report and drive it to the central office in Hanna, a distance of 35 miles.
If a student was leaving the district, the teacher had to fill out one of the ‘transfer forms’ (found in the back of the register), for the child to present at his next school. This transfer form had two parts, one where the sending school recorded all vital information- name of child and school attended, days present or absent, grade enrolled in, etc. A note might be included telling what reading series the child had been doing, and so on. The teacher signed it. The child presented the transfer at this new school, and the receiving school would send the second part back, so there was a trail of where the child was enrolled.
Further to this record-keeping, at the back of the register there was a year-end form on which the information from each monthly report was recorded, and this, too, had to ‘balance’, and go through the same chain of command, so at the end of the year, school boards knew exactly where they stood with regard to the students, schools, and bussing in their jurisdiction.
In my Alberta teaching years, I know ‘they’ stopped making you find the percentage of attendance each month, somewhere in the late 1980s, perhaps, but the register still had to be fully and accurately filled-out, and balance. The school was responsible for knowing where the kids were on school days. It was a legal document, and could be used to ascertain whether children were attending school, (the family allowance could be held back if children were not attending), what amount of education they had, where the family moved to if they left the district, whether a school needed to be closed or another room added.
Later on in life, the register could reveal the family background and sometimes health condition of a person, or level of schooling attained. It could be used as evidence in a court case, or even proof of age for voting, getting married, or qualification for old age pension!
This transcript of those names included in the attendance registers as follows was typed up and submitted by Eleanor Kreiser along with this above introduction. Thank you kindly.