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Guide to the Brooklyn schools collection 1985.054

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Brooklyn Historical Society

Collection processed by Weatherly Stephan and Patricia Glowinski

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on April 25, 2017
Finding aid written in English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

 Last updated by Ryan Frick and John Zarrillo  , March 2017

Historical note

In colonial New York, young people primarily received education through private schoolmasters and tutors, and free schooling was available to poor families through the Dutch Reformed and Catholic churches. Following the establishment of a state government, the Regents of the University of the State of New York granted charters for secondary schools in the state; the first charter, in 1768, was for Erasmus Hall Academy, located in the present-day Brooklyn neighborhood of Flatbush. Individual school districts in Kings County were created based on village, town, or neighborhood boundaries, with each district receiving funding from local taxes, state contributions, and student tuition. This system continued into the mid-19th century, when Brooklyn created a municipal board of education in 1843 to oversee all schools in the city.

In colonial New York, young people primarily received education through private schoolmasters and tutors, and free schooling was available to poor families through the Dutch Reformed and Catholic churches. Following the establishment of a state government, the Regents of the University of the State of New York granted charters for secondary schools in the state; the first charter, in 1768, was for Erasmus Hall Academy, located in the present-day Brooklyn neighborhood of Flatbush. Individual school districts in Kings County were created based on village, town, or neighborhood boundaries, with each district receiving funding from local taxes, state contributions, and student tuition. This system continued into the mid-19th century, when Brooklyn created a municipal board of education in 1843 to oversee all schools in the city.

While the number of schools in Brooklyn grew, very few educational opportunities existed beyond the primary grades for the children of poor or working class parents. Secondary schools such as Erasmus Hall and the Brooklyn Female Academy (opened in 1846, and now known as the Packer Collegiate Institute) were private, and therefore only affordable for middle class and wealthy families. The Central Grammar School, founded in 1878, was the first public school in Brooklyn to offer secondary level classes. Out of Central Grammar School, Boys' High School and Girls' High School, the first public high schools in Brooklyn, were formed to meet the demand and need for free public education beyond elementary school. Higher education also became available in Brooklyn around this time, as the Brooklyn Collegiate and Polytechnic Institute (now known as Polytechnic Institute of New York University) conferred its first baccalaureate degrees in 1871, and St. Francis Academy evolved from a monastery and preparatory school to St. Francis College in 1885.

Sources

  1. Lopate, Carol. Education and Culture in Brooklyn: A History of Ten Institutions. Brooklyn, N.Y.: Brooklyn Education and Cultural Alliance, 1979.
  2. Ment, David. "Public schools." In Encyclopedia of New York City, ed. Kenneth T. Jackson, 955-961. New Haven: Yale University Press; New York: New-York Historical Society, 1995.