Guide to the United States

from the 1916 book of the same name by John Foster Carr

Home       l       Site Map      l      Exhibitions      l     About the Museum       l      Education      l     Contact Us       l       Links


Teaching Household Work in the Public Schools.


The United States has been called the land of the school house. In its common schools there are now more than half a million pupils. Our people believe so strongly in the necessity of education that nearly everywhere children are obliged to be sent to school until they are fourteen years of age. In one state a parent who deliberately keeps his child out of school is liable to be fined $50 and sent to prison for thirty days. Those immigrants are most welcome who appreciate best the advantages of education, and are willing to make many sacrifices to give their children the best education possible. A good education will not only help a boy to become a better man, but will enable him to earn more money, be more respected, and take a position that would be impossible for those who have left school when they were only fourteen years of age. This is just as important for girls as for boys. Insist on your children going to school every day. Accept no excuses. Make the acquaintance of your child's teacher. She will be your useful friend and adviser.

In America the best instruction may be had entirely without cost, from the lowest children's schools up to the university. Children are allowed, but not forced, to go to the kindergarten when they are five years old. Here they may remain one year. But when the child is six years old--seven years in some states--he is obliged by law to go to school. He then enters primary school. Here he remains for five years. When he is eleven he is usually able to enter the grammar school, from which he should graduate when he is fourteen. During these years  he learns reading, writing, spelling, arithmetic, geography, history, drawing. Most American schools, particularly in the large cities, offer a great many other important advantages of instruction. For in addition to the studies I have mentioned, they teach manual training, which helps to give boys and girls a useful preparation for life. And this is not all, for besides the public schools, in all our large cities, as well as in many smaller ones, there are a great variety of technical and trade schools which give instruction in many branches, either freely or at very low cost. Such schools teach boys carpentry, plumbing, plastering, painting, steam and hot water fitting, sheet-metal working, blacksmithing, printing, pattern making, electrical work, art, mechanical and architectural drawing, bookkeeping, stenography, typewriting, science, and modern and ancient languages. In similar schools girls are also taught bookkeeping, stenography, typewriting, science and modern languages as well as cooking, housekeeping, all kinds of machine and hand sewing, dressmaking, millinery, and embroidery.


High schools are public and free, and may be entered when the boy or girl is fourteen years of age. They prepare for the university, which offers a great variety of courses in every branch of learning, and in the special education that is necessary for every kind of professional life.

In all cities and large towns there are night schools which are open seven months in the year. In some states the law gives the night school privilege to ever district with over 10,000 inhabitants. These night schools offer the same course as the day schools, and are open not only to children who have passed the age when they are required by law to attend the day school, but also to adult foreigners, for whose benefit they give special instruction in English. Ask for the address of these schools.

Besides these public night schools, there are a great many other special schools held at night where instruction is given freely, or at a very low cost. Among these are many kinds of industrial schools and commercial colleges. In New York City, Cooper Union and the Settlement Houses give instruction in many subjects that are necessary for young men who are ambitious to get on in the world. Besides these, after you have mastered English, there are the correspondence schools, from which you can have instruction by mail if you are so situated that you cannot attend regular schools.


The Chemistry Class.

And in addition to all these, as a kind of popular university, there is the system of lectures given at the public schools, during seven months of the year, on history, travel, industry, art, literature, physics, electricity, and chemistry. They are accompanied by scientific experiments and are illustrated by the stereopticon and by moving pictures. Many of these lectures are given in Yiddish and deal with the history, institutions, geography, and great men of all nations. Entrance is absolutely free, and no permission need be obtained. There is not even the formality of registering your name. Subjects are announced by notices posted on the school buildings and announced in newspapers. Such courses of lectures are given at more than fifty schools in New York City.

There are many other educational advantages that our cities give freely. The public libraries are found everywhere. Without a cent's cost men and women can go to them and read and study books and papers in Yiddish and in other languages. They can have the use of books from which they can learn the English language, and the laws and customs of the United States, as well as works of fiction, travel, science, etc. Giving the necessary references, any resident of the city can have the privilege of borrowing books. Ordinarily two books may be borrowed at one time, and these may be kep two weeks. For most of the books the loan may be renewed for another two weeks on request.

Of special value to Jewish immigrants in New York City, there is:

The Educational Alliance, at East Broadway and Jefferson Street. This Society holds evening classes in English. It gives lectures on American geography, history, government; on American life, customs, manners. These lectures begin in Yiddish, and when pupils have made some progress in English, they are simply given in that language. There are classes in physical training for both men and women. For the men there are also classes in manual training and telegraphy. For the women there are classes in sewing and dressmaking, millinery, Kosher cooking and the care of children. These classes are all free, or cost but a few cents each night. It offers many other opportunities--religious, educational, social.

The Young Women's Hebrew Association, 31 West 110th Street, New York City, heartily welcomes all Jewish girls and young women. Besides classes in English to foreigners, in dressmaking, embroidery, stenography, typewriting, bookkeeping, singing, Hebrew, and physical culture, it has a free Information and Employment Bureau, social and literary clubs, lectures, dances, entertainments, and Friday evening religious services. It has a dormitory, and offers an excellent, attractive home at low cost.

The Hebrew Technical Institute, 36 Stuyvesant Street, New York City, trains boys for practical work, and offers a three year course comprising a trade and English.

The Hebrew Technical School for Girls, 15th Street and Second Avenue, New York City, offers courses in stenography, typewriting, bookkeeping, dressmaking, hand sewing, millinery, embroidery and designing. Pupils must be over fourteen years of age and must know English. Has an employment bureau for graduates. Cost very low.

Among other educational opportunities are these:
In New York City, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, at Fifth Avenue and Eighty-second Street, which is the largest art gallery in America and is rich in both ancient and modern masters.

In New York, also, there is the Museum of Natural History, at Seventy-seventh Street and Central Park West, which is remarkable for the number and extent of its collections of stuffed animals and birds from every part of the country; collections of Indian work, models of Indian life, relics of our ancient American civilizations.

The Aquarium at the Battery, in New York, is said to be second only to the famous aquarium in Naples. The Botanical Gardens in Bronx Park are particularly rich in wonderful collections of native American plants. Its Zoological Garden is in many respects the best in the world.

Wherever you go, it is always very easy to find out just what educational opportunities of this sort are freely offered to the public. They will serve not only for your amusement and pleasure, but for the best education of which you are capable, and so permit you to earn more money and more fully enjoy life.








Copyright 2009. Museum of Family History.  All rights reserved. 
Image Use Policy.