Graduation, 1902

Click here to see it larger.

What it is:

Photo approx. 6.5 x 4.75 inches.  The remains of having been mounted to something are glued to the back.

What I know about it:

There is no writing on it, but I assume the “02” pictured on the banner is referring to the year 1902.


Going through some photos this weekend, I found this one, and was reminded that we’re in the time of year that schools have their graduation ceremonies, so I thought I’d post it.  I don’t know if that was the case 110 years ago, but it makes sense.  And I assume this is a group of graduates, dressed for the ceremony, and proudly waving their diplomas.  I’m a little confused because there seems to be some variation in the ages, with some particularly young looking boys in the back.  Do they just look younger than they are?  Did different grades graduate?  Were they prodigies?  Is this some other occasion?  And I wonder about the setting.  Is this the school?  Perhaps a social hall where the ceremony was held?  Is this even the United States?  In any case, I think it’s got a lot that’s that’s interesting to look at, and I hope you find it so, too.

7 comments on “Graduation, 1902”

  1. some of the guys’ hairstyles – eeeek 😉

  2. In the days of the one-room schoolhouse, did elementary and middle and high school coexist? Some look 10ish and some look 16ish, so perhaps this is the equivalent of 4th-10th grades? Or Confirmation class graduation?

    • That makes sense. I had always assumed that graduation ceremonies for grades other than seniors was a modern morale-boosting invention, but I could be wrong. I’ve also learned recently that there was less uniformity a century ago to the ages when kids would start school, though that would account for older seniors, not younger ones, so that wouldn’t apply here. And you’re right, they may be graduating from something other than regular school.

    • To answer your question about the one-room school, yes, older and younger students intermingled and often the older students were called on to help instruct the younger ones.

  3. Years ago when many (most?) students only finished eighth grade before going out into the work force or farm, eighth grade graduation was a major milestone worthy of “pomp and circumstance”. Perhaps this is a dual graduation photograph for both eighth graders and high school seniors. Then again, a few of the boys on the top row do not even look old enough to be in eighth grade.

    • Oh, thank you, I was unaware of Eighth Grade Graduation. Your suggestion that this could be a combination of those graduations makes sense. I love how much I’m learning doing this blog. 🙂

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