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Interpreting the Evidence

Art Class, New York City Public School #147, c. 1900

  • Documents in this Activity:
  • Historical Eras:

    Turn of the Century and WWI (1890 - 1930)

  • Thinking Skill:

    Historical Analysis & Interpretation

  • Grade Level:

    Lower Elementary
    Upper Elementary
    Middle School
    High School
    College University

  • Topics:


  • Primary Source Types:


  • Regions:

    New York City
    New York State

  • Creator:

    NYS Archives Partnership Trust Education Team

  1. Load Art Class, New York City Public School #147, c. 1900 in Main Image Viewer

Suggested Teaching Instructions

Document Description
A teacher instructs a class of boys in clay modeling in New York City Public School No. 147, circa 1900.
Historical Context
At the turn of the century, physical education was viewed as an important part of school, especially in urban settings (such as New York City) with large immigrant populations.  Children participated in team sports and coordinated gymnastic movements to build a sense of teamwork, fair play, discipline, and healthy competition.  It was believed that participation in physical education and art classes would provide immigrant children from diverse backgrounds an opportunity to build a sense of unity.
Essential Question
How does culture influence a society's education system?
Check for Understanding
Describe the scene in the photograph and identify key characteristics of the American education system during this time period.