Emancipation Day in the schools
This is a page from a Record Book for Intermediate School No 3, which was inside the Stevens School (still standing at 1050 21st St, NW in Foggy Bottom). As you can see, on April 14, 1872, all activity (attendance, marks, and grades) have been blocked out because school was out! The teacher’s note reads: “No School-cause ‘Emancipation Celebration’ Schools closed to attend ‘Emancipation Celebration’”. Just 10 years after it was signed into law, freed slaves and residents of the city celebrated their day of emancipation with a district-wide holiday.
The Stevens School, named for Congressmen Thaddeus Stevens (PA), opened as one of the first publicly funded schools for African Americans in 1868. At the time of its closing in 2008, it was the longest continuously operated school building in DC.
The Sumner School archives contains a large series of historical record books dating as far back as the mid-1800s. These books were mass produced and given to teachers at the beginning of the school year to record the daily grades and attendance of students. Other classroom related things that were recorded include lists of visitors, inventory of supplies, list of suspension and corporal punishment, and materials sent home to sick students. The books also contain detailed annual registers of pupils. The register recorded information about each student including: student’s age, home address, parents names and occupations, and admission dates. This last element of the Record Books could be a valuable resource for family and local historians.
RG General Records of DCPS; series: Record Books