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0400. Boston Public Schools

 Record Group
Identifier: 0400
In 1789, the General Court of the Colony granted authority to “trust to appoint School Committees for the control of the Schools.” In accordance with the provisions of this act, the first School Committee for Boston was chosen October 20, 1789, “to exercise all the Powers relating to the Schools and School Masters, which the Selectmen or such Committees are authorized by the Laws of this Commonwealth on the Votes of this Town to exercise.” Under the reorganized plan of 1789, the public schools of Boston were administered by a committee consisting of twenty-one members, nine selectmen and one member from each of the twelve wards. For administrative purposes, the Board of twenty-one members was divided into various sub-committees. Sub-committees included a visiting committee, a committee to fill vacancies in the teaching staff and an examining committee. Prior to 1818, the public schools admitted only children who had already received some rudimentary instruction. During that year, after considerable agitation on the part of the citizens of the town, primary schools were established. The citizens created in town meeting a special committee distinct and separate from the regular School Committee to safeguard the interests of the primary schools. This committee had a membership ranging from 36 at one time to 196 at another time. The Primary School Committee continued to have exclusive control of the primary schools until 1855, when these schools were placed under the jurisdiction of the general committee. By terms of the Charter, authorization was granted the School Committee to have the general care and superintendence of the public schools. The number of members and terms of the School Committee fluctuated over the years through several charter revisions. The office of the Superintendent of Schools was created in 1851. The appointment of teachers, however, still remained the prerogative of the School Committee. In 1876, the rules and regulations were revised and considerable nominal power was granted to the Superintendent and Supervisors, but the appointment of teachers was retained by the district subcommittees. The newly established Board of Supervisors became a board for the examination and certification of teachers. In 1884, the Superintendent was given additional powers. He was to be held responsible to the School Board as the executive in the department of instruction over all supervisors, principals, and other instructors. With the reorganization of the School Committee in 1906, all sub-committees were discontinued. One of the most important features of the revised rules and regulations of 1906 was the conferring of direct authority and responsibility upon the official staff of the Committee. The Superintendent was designated as the executive officer of the School Committee in all matters relating to instruction and discipline in the public schools; and was given the power, subject to the approval of the School Committee, to appoint, reappoint, transfer and remove all directors, principals and teachers. Chapter 108 of the Acts of 1991 replaced the elected School Committee with a board of seven members serving four-year terms, appointed by the Mayor from nominees.

Found in 14 Collections and/or Records:

Boston Public Schools website

Identifier: 0400.010
Dates: 2016-2019

Charlestown Free School fund records

Identifier: 0402.001
Scope and Contents

Includes financial records of the Charlestown Free School Fund which provided support for the public schools in Charlestown.

Dates: 1835-1960

Committee for Superintending the School for Mutual Instruction records

Identifier: 0401.001
Scope and Contents note This series consists of three sub-series: Sub-series I - Committee correspondence and reports; Sub-series II - Reports on attendence and tokens; and Sub-series III - Observation reports. Sub-series I includes correspondence, votes, reports, and records of the business of the Committee. One significant item is a detailed description by William B. Fowle of his visit to the Free Schools in New York City. Sub-series II includes the reports of the schoolmaster, William B. Fowle, which provided...
Dates: 1821-1823

Curriculum guides and courses of study

Identifier: 0400.003
Scope and Contents

Includes copies of courses of study and curriculum guides for the Boston Public Schools. Courses of study and curriculum guides may also be found in the School Committee Annual Reports and Documents series.

Dates: 1943-1991

Graduation programs

Identifier: 0400.004
Scope and Contents note

Includes bound volumes of graduation programs of High Schools and Grammar Schools for the years 1885, 1890-1891, 1893, 1895-1897, 1904-1913 and 1918-1923; and graduation programs on microfilm of high schools for the years 1919-1979.

Dates: 1885-1979

Kougeas Family collection

Identifier: 0400.009
Scope and Contents

Collection of materials relating to the Boston Public Schools donated by the Kougeas Family. Includes yearbooks, photographs, textbook, class ring, etc. School represented include English High School, Girls' High School, Prince School and others.

Dates: circa 1925-1977

Manuals of the public schools of the city of Boston

 Series — Multiple Containers
Identifier: 0400.001
Scope and Contents note Manual of the Public Schools of the City of Boston is a serial publication, which includes listings of schools, school districts, school officials and employees in the School Department of the City of Boston. The collection includes manuals from 1869-1973 with gaps. The volume for 1972 is entitled “Directory of the Public Schools of the City of Boston” and the volume for 1973 is entitled “Personnel Directory of the Public Schools of the City of Boston. The collection consists of 68 volumes....
Dates: 1869-1973 with gaps

News clippings

Identifier: 0400.007
Scope and Contents

Includes scrapbooks of news clippings, 1941-1943 and 1946-1958 and news clippings compiled by the Office of Communications, April 1985-February 1988 and 1993-2000 on topics relating to the Boston Public Schools.

Dates: 1941-1958, 1985-1988, 1993-2000

Photographs of School Headmasters

Identifier: 0403.001
Scope and Contents

Collection of photographs of school headmasters who served circa 1830-1878. Includes John D. Philbrick, Joshua Bates, Samuel W. Mason, Elbridge Smith, W.L.P. Boardman, William E. Endicott and others.

Dates: circa 1870-1890

Rules and regulations of the Boston Public Schools

Identifier: 0400.002
Scope and Contents note

The Rules and Regulations of the Boston Public Schools are dated 1877-1879, 1883, 1888, 1895, 1897-1898, 1900, 1906, 1908, 1910, 1919, 1921, 1923, 1927, and 1935. Each volume is divided into two sections. The first describes the rules and structure of the Boston School Committee. The second the regulations of the Boston School Department. Each volume contains a definition of the school districts.

Dates: 1877-1935

School building photographs

Identifier: 0403.002
Scope and Contents

Collection of photographs of Boston Public School buildings. Most photographs show exterior views of buildings. A small number include interior views.

Dates: circa 1920-1960

School Department publications

Identifier: 0400.005
Scope and Contents

Publications produced by the Boston School Department. Includes Code of Discipline, contracts, handbooks, newsletters, reports, plans, etc.

Dates: circa 1916-2000

School History collection

Identifier: 0400.008
Scope and Contents note This is an artificial collection compiled from books and pamphlets transferred from the Campbell Resource Center (formerly the School Committee Administration Library). It includes published works about individual Boston Schools, works by students and faculty, and works about the individual for whom the school was named. The collection is broken down into three series based on the size and format: Pamphlets and small-size publications; Books; and Other publications and...
Dates: 1820-1989

Scrapbook of school forms

 Item — Volume 1-2
Identifier: 0400.006
Scope and Contents note

Scrapbook of forms used by the School Department, circa 1940. Includes samples of office record cards, attendance and scholarship records, transfer cards, report cards, monthly reports, teacher record cards, etc.

Dates: circa 1940