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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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The Carpenters: 1921

The Carpenters: 1921

Washington, D.C., circa 1921. "Junior high school shop." The same school as Monday's art class. Harris & Ewing Collection glass negative. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5

"Industrial Arts"

Was what our class was called in 1954. I remember building my mother a metal sugar scoop and a wooden book holder that she used for 40 years. I never used the table saw, but we had a guy that cut a finger off once. He must have liked the attention he got from this accident, because he cut off two more over the two years that he took shop.

Mr. Belcher

My shop teacher in 1948 once said to me, "Joe, Plastic Wood is for mistakes in the wood, not your mistakes." The shop was much like the one shown. All hand tools, varnish and shellac, and animal glue.


years ago, our junior high shop class made shoeshine boxes. Mine is still in the basement at my parents' house, unused, after lo these many years.

Skills going overseas

It's sad that vocational classes are getting smaller all the time with many schools not offering them anymore. Now kids learn computer and video games. They are not encouraged to work with their hands anymore. When I went to school, shop class was my favorite.

Observations from a pro woodworker

Not a power tool in sight!

Note the planes all laid on their sides...a good teacher in that class. This keeps the irons from resting on surfaces that might dull them.

Ties...yes. We wore ties to high school in the early 1960s; it was a Quaker prep school in Rhode Island. The shop teacher was my track coach, and the
wood shop building was just beautiful; I'd love to own it for a work shop now!

There's nothing like a good grounding in hand tool use and safety to make you really understand what power tools can do...and what they can't do.

Rick Turner, guitar maker

A boy and his vise

That's all I'm going to say.

Nyuk, nyuk

Looks like the nearest boy doing the planing is about to get a 2x4 to the back of the head, Three Stooges style.

Brings Back Memories

Boy does that picture bring back memories of Freshman Shop Class in 1954. The tables are almost identical to the ones I used that year. The sink in the corner looks the same. We had paper towels in 1954 but I didn't know there were paper towels in 1921. I would say my classmates and I didn't wear ties to class. We did wear shop aprons however. Oh, yes, I can smell the varnish now.

No more shop

My college friend has been a shop teacher for 35 years and is retiring in June. His school district is eliminating all the shop classes to save money.

Well Lit Shop

It seems that concept of Junior High schools were first introduced to Washington in the early 1920s. Unlike the new buildings discussed below, the pictured room appears to be a converted classroom. I can't find any information on "Mr. Coomb". [My Jr. High shop class (in the 1970s) was in the basement under the gymnasium.]

Washington Post, May 7, 1922

New Junior Highs to be Entirely Above the Ground

Plans for the MacFarland and Langley junior high schools are rapidly nearing completion. ... Shops that will in reality be shops where the mechanical arts may be taught to the best advantage and a combination gymnasium and auditorium are among the features the two schools will contain.
One feature, which is believed represents an advance in construction, is that the buildings will be entirely above ground. There will be no basement rooms. Unlike elementary school buildings, the junior high schools being intended for pupils of more mature years would not include playrooms heretofore placed in the basement of school buildings. But neither will they include shops or any other rooms below the ground level.

Under such a plan plentiful natural light will be supplied throughout the building. Ample ventilation will be possible, and dampness of floors so often found below the ground level will be avoided.
Thirteen classrooms and ten rooms for shop work will be included in each building. ... "A school shop should be a shop and not a classroom converted into a shop," is the idea of Municipal Architect Harris. ... First of all, the shops will have concrete floors, just like an honest-to-goodness shop where actual mechanical work is done in real life.

Washington Post, Aug 23, 1923

Junior High School Courses to Stress Training in Trades

Woodwork Selected as Leading Study

If District boys are better prepared for following a trade, they will owe it to plans being worked by school officials to give them wider opportunities for vocational training.
Development of the junior high school plan in Washington will be accompanied by an extension of manual training courses, it was indicated by Director Chamberlain. Three kinds of vocational work will be included in the curriculum. There will be the bench shop, in which woodwork will be provided for seventh and eighth grades; the pattern shop, with more advanced woodwork paralleling the course in the first year high school; and the printing shop. In the printing courses opportunity for a grounding in practical phases of the printing trade will be given.

It is expected the two new junior high schools will reach 500 to 600 boys. The combined capacity of the two schools will be about 1,250 pupils, of whom perhaps half will be boys who will take the manual training courses.

The ties that bind

An those neckties MUST be tucked in lest they drag one down with the power saw.

Like a Table Saw Buddy!

I bet the one on the left would have given his nice tie for a table saw to rip that board.

Arts and Crafts

That is a really interesting Arts and Crafts style Table (Stool?) the fellow by the column is applying the varnish to. Notice how the legs are held in place by wood pins, probably could break this down and store flat without any tools. Craftsmanship of an earlier day at work here!

Wood shop!

Junior high school wood shop! I remember it well, making items like mahogany dominoes. Lots of activity here, like the two kids using a huge brace and bit (drill). The chair is a pretty ambitious project, with all its mortise and tenon joints. By the 1970s, when I was in wood shop, things hadn't changed that much. We still used the brace and bit, but at least we had access to an electric table saw, router/joiner, and surfacer.

Splinter Group

The lads seem a bit overdressed for woodshop. Makes you wonder what they wear for formal school functions. Top hat and tails?

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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