Going to School in Rural Iowa in the 1940s

In this segment of Iowa PBS’s "Picture Perfect: Iowa in the 1940s" documentary, alumni from a small rural Iowa town describe what school was like in the 1940s.


Norma (Quill) Fisher, Ridgeway High School Alumna: We got to be just like brothers and sisters because we weren’t very many. We had so much fun together. Some of us were confirmed in the same class, so we went to confirmation class for two years, and that was a special bond. The sports were certainly—and the singing; we had wonderful music. We had good glee club teachers and we always went to music contests. And our people did well. It was exceptional for a little country village like Ridgeway. It just was special.

Clara (Gilbertson) Perry, Ridgeway High School Alumna: We’d gather in the morning and we’d say the Pledge of Allegiance and then have a song, maybe “America the Beautiful.” There’d be announcements and the bell would ring and we’d go to the different rooms for classes.

Bob McQueen, Ridgeway High School Alumnus: I think of an interesting thing too of the way parents and teachers cooperated. I was told to come home right after school on a Friday because we were going down to grandma’s. Well, I didn’t come home after school, so my father called the school and he said, “Do you know if my son is down there.” She said, “I didn’t know but I’ll ask his teacher.” She said, “Yes, Bob—he and Nervell Foss had a little argument at recess and I’m holding them both after school,” But she said, “I’ll send him right home.” And my father said, “Don’t you send him home one second sooner than you said he would go and we’ll wait ‘til he comes home and we’ll discuss it after he gets home.” There’s an example of how parents supported teachers, and I don’t know if that’s the case today or not.


What is your Iowa pathway? Start your investigation by selecting a topic from the list above.

Media Artifacts

Navigation Tip:
Before digging in, check out how the page is organized. What are the main navigation buttons? What stays the same on every page?