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North Carolina Era 7: New South – 1876 - 1900: Subscription Schools in Western North Carolina Lesson Plan

Subscription Schools


LESSON: Subscription Schools in Western North Carolina
UNIT: Era Seven – New South – 1876 - 1900


LEARNING OUTCOMES:

  • The learner will analyze two primary source documents.
  • The learner will gain an understanding of the use of subscription schools in Western North Carolina.
  • LEARNING TARGET: I can explain how subscription schools served the needs of families in the 19th century.

TEACHER PLANNING:

  • Time needed: 20 minutes
  • Materials/Equipment: Copies of the original document (and transcription) from 1876 and the transcription from 1877 for pairs of students.

PROCEDURE:

  1. Ask students what a ‘subscription school’ was. Many will be able to guess simply from the name. [a short term school in which parents paid for their students to
    attend]
  2. Give each pair of students’ copies of the subscription school from 1876 and 1877 and have them read through them
  3. Ask the following questions:
    • When and where was each written? [November 14, 1876 and March 1, 1877, both in Madison County, NC.]
    • What levels would be taught in the schools? How would we differentiate between those levels today? [Primary, Intermediate, Upper level – generally, elementary, middle and high school levels]
    • How much would each level cost? How was payment accepted other than cash (specie)? [$1.00, $1.25, $1.50 per month; could barter with produce at market price]
    • How many students were enrolled in the winter session? The spring session? Why might this be? [winter – 31 ½ ; spring – 11 ½. This could
      simply be that children were needed for farm work. Some students may indicate that some parents were not satisfied with the work in the winter
      months.]
    • What might be a ½ student? [this could be for attending ½ of the time or it could be for ½ of the courses available]
    • What do you believe would be the effect of these schools? Was this a reliable form of income for the teachers? [answers will vary]
    • Why do you believe that regions needed to have subscription schools? [students may recognize that schooling was uneven during the time of reconstruction – some places had free public schools and other did not. In some areas the only public schools were primary schools.]

ASSESSMENT:

  • Assessment will be from class participation and discussion.


EXTENSION/DIFFERENTIATION ACTIVITIES:

  • The J. B. Lunsford in these documents is the father of Bascom Lamar Lunsford.


Resources:

  • Southern Appalachian Archives – Lunsford Collection

  • According to From These Stones: Mars Hill College First Hundred Years by John Angus McLeod page 99
    “The figures following the names of the subscribers represent the number of pupils they agreed to send and/or support. For example, one subscribing one-half pupil was entitled to send one pupil half time. A subscriber paying for one pupil might send three pupils one-third time each. Sometimes in these subscription schools a man with a large family might subscribe one pupil and send a number of his children to the school at
    different times.”

Lesson Materials:

  • North Carolina Era 7: New South – 1876 – 1900: Transcription of November 14, 1876 Subscription School document by James Angus McLeod can be found here.
  • North Carolina Era 7: New South – 1876 – 1900: Scan of November 14, 1876 Subscription School document by James Angus McLeod can be found here