Can You Pass the Test? Teacher Certification Exams in Ohio’s Historic Newspapers

In order to teach in Ohio public schools, teachers now and in the past are required to pass formal examinations that measure their competency and academic skills in a variety of areas.  During the early 20th century, the Greenville Journal, published in Darke County, Ohio, printed the questions included on the county examination for teachers seeking elementary school certificates.

Among the topics covered on these tests were: arithmetic, geography, grammar, literature, physiology, and United States history.  A couple of the articles referred to these questions as “Brain Puzzlers”, and I would have to agree—some of them are tough!  Here are just a few examples:

Arithmetic: “A piece of work costs for labor $233.75, the workmen receiving wages at the rate of $1.50 for a day of 9 hours.  What would the same work cost if wages were $1.40 a day of 8 hours?” (October 8, 1908, Image 8, col. 2).

Elementary Agriculture: “Name three kinds of corn and discuss each in such a way that they may be recognized by the description.  What kind of corn is raised chiefly in your section of the state?” (September 18, 1913, Image 1, col. 2).

Literature: “Trace in early American literature some influences of its English origin.” (February 7, 1907, Image 8, col. 2).

Physiology: “How does the knowledge of a scratch on the hand reach the brain?  Would knowledge of an injury to an internal organ locate so accurately the place and nature of the hurt?  Does the brain control the processes of the internal organs?” (January 13, 1916, Image 3, col. 1).

Would you have had what it takes to be a certified teacher in Darke County during the early 1900s?  Take one of these examinations and find out!  You can view them by visiting the Library of Congress’s Chronicling America website where select issues from the Greenville Journal are now online.  Either click on the links provided in this post, or you can search for other examinations.  Use the Advanced Search feature to limit your search by newspaper title to the Greenville Journal and search for teacher exam, teacher questions or teacher examination in the “…with all of the words” search box.  If you limit your search to just Ohio papers, you can also find teacher exams from other areas of the state, including Lorain County (Wellington Enterprise, December 16, 1896, Image 4, col. 3) and Washington County (Marietta Daily Leader, February 10, 1901, Image 8, col. 3-4).

The orthography section from the September 1915 teacher county certification exam (Greenville Journal, September 2, 1915, Image 3, col. 4).

The orthography section from the September 1915 teacher county certification exam (Greenville Journal, September 2, 1915, Image 3, col. 4).

The Greenville Journal is just one of Ohio’s most recent additions to Chronicling America.  It joins more than 1,300 other newspapers from all over the nation (that’s over 7.4 million pages!), including over 50 from Ohio, to chronicle United States history from 1836 to 1922.  All papers on the website are freely available and keyword searchable.  In addition to issues from the Greenville Journal (1907-1918), the following Ohio papers are also now online:

Chronicling America is brought to you by the National Digital Newspaper Program, a partnership between the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Library of Congress and state projects to provide enhanced access to United States newspapers published between 1836 and 1922.  National Endowment for the Humanities awards support state projects to select and digitize historically significant titles that are aggregated and permanently maintained by the Library of Congress at Chronicling America. As part of the project, the Ohio Historical Society contributed over 200,000 newspaper pages to the project between July 2008 and August 2012 and will contribute an additional 100,000 pages by the end of August 2014.  For more information about this project and resources for searching Chronicling America, please visit the National Digital Newspaper Program in Ohio Project Wiki or Ohio Digital Newspaper Program Website.

Jenni Salamon, Project Coordinator, NDNP-OH

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