Archive for Tuesday, May 1, 2012

100 years ago: Nearly a quarter of Kansas HS grads head to college

May 1, 2012


From the Lawrence Daily Journal-World for May 1, 1912:

  • "Twenty-three per cent of the high school students who graduated last spring in the state of Kansas entered college this fall according to a statement made last night by Prof. W. H. Johnson in addressing the Commercial club. There were 4,300 of these graduates and 910 of them entered college. Prof. Johnson was unable to state how many of these came to Lawrence and to Kansas University as the figures have not been given to his department as yet, but there between 600 and 700 Freshmen in the University."
  • "A petition is being circulated by girls of the Fine Arts school of the University for a new building that will be given over exclusively to their work. Much discussion of doing this has been going on for some time and frequent consultations have been held with various legislators in regard to seeing what can be done.... At present the K.U. Fine Arts school is not located in one place. Part of it is in North College and the other part is clear down town in the studios on the third floor of the Dick building at the corner of Massachusetts and Henry street... But there is no way by which all the classes can be held in North College. There is not the room. What is more the old building is dilapidated and no matter what expenditure is put on it the fact remains that the structure itself is very old, and the money put on repairs would go far toward the fund for a new building."
  • "Three county prisoners ran away yesterday. Sam Jackson, charged with selling liquor, ran away from the rock pile. Also Nute Owens and John Mills, in jail for stealing, broke away yesterday and were lost in the willows."
  • "Two small boys suspected of having stolen two suits of clothes from the Williams Pantatorium on Sunday night were arrested last night. It is alleged that the boys hid the clothes on the river and were discovered when they came to take them away. The boys were taken before county attorney Riling this afternoon for an investigation."
  • "The general Methodist conference began in Minneapolis, Minnesota, today with the interest of the delegates keen as to what action will be taken on the proposal to change the disciplinary rules prohibiting dancing, games of chance, theater going, circuses and horse racing as being a 'tendency toward worldliness.'"


average 5 years, 12 months ago

The 'nearly a quarter' doesn't mean quite what you'd think with a modern mindset. There were somewhere around 30,000 18-year-olds in Kansas in 1912 (the state's population has only doubled in that timeframe). Around 15% of them got High School degrees. A quarter of those (under 4% of that cohort) went to college.

The "8th Grade Diploma" was a fairly credible credential back then. A high school diploma meant quite a bit and qualified you for quite a bit. Unfortunately, while plenty of today's students graduate high school with enough skill to succeed in many jobs, the high school diploma alone doesn't connote even basic literacy or checkbook-balancing math. So, we send them to college to get a degree that (hopefully) proves they learned what was taught in high school.

Sarah St. John 5 years, 12 months ago

Thank you for the elucidation, Average.

Weiser, I wish with all my heart that I could provide more info on the Pantatorium. I did find myself wishing that it was an emporium for pants, and actually I think it wasn't too far from that (a retail store for clothes, among other things). But my guess is that the "pan" part of the name was supposed to connote "all," as it is used that way as a prefix even now. Combined with "emporium" (what we'd probably think of as a general store), "Pantatorium" was maybe a lovely 1912 word meaning "A store that sells all of everything!"

Stephanie Hull 5 years, 12 months ago

Thanks Sarah! I laughed when I read that word. I imagined a huge, garish showroom full of just pants, but your explanation seems far more likely.

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