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Interpreting the Evidence

Drinking and Washing in a Rural School, c. 1912

  • Documents in this Activity:
  • Historical Era:

    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 State

  • Creator:

    NYS Archives Partnership Trust Education Team

  1. Load Drinking and Washing in a Rural School, c. 1912 in Main Image Viewer

Suggested Teaching Instructions

Document Description
A table for drinking and washing at a rural school which includes: a washbasin, folding cups, an earthen jar with a cover and a spigot, soap, and paper towels, circa 1912.
Historical Context
In the early 1900s, schools were aware of the importance of comfortable facilities for students in the school building.
Essential Question
How do human settlement patterns impact individual health and quality of life?
Check for Understanding
Describe the objects in the photograph and explain the purpose of these objects.
Historical Challenges
Research what changes have been made in American schools in the past two hundred years to make them healthier environments for students.
Interdisciplinary Connections
Math: How many water fountains per student does your school have? How many restrooms per student?
Science: Make a chart showing how much water, juice, soda, and other beverages you drink every day for a week. How much water should you drink every day? Why is it important to drink water?
Science: In this photograph, there is just one cup for drinking water. What risks did students face by drinking out of the same cup?
Science: There appears to be a roll of paper towels in this photograph. When were paper towels invented?
English Language Arts: Write a letter to a school board member suggesting changes that could be made in your school to make it a healthier environment for students.
Art: Make a poster encouraging students in your school to wash their hands.