Teaching Contracts

Early Teaching Contracts and Certificates

Teaching was one of the acceptable things for a girl to do in the nineteenth century.  Teachers were not just teachers, but had to be community role models as well.  Perhaps today's educators would be amazed at the stipulations and rules from early teaching contracts


1905 teaching contract for Story County, Iowa

1. Teachers are expected to live in the community in which they are employed and to take residence with local citizens for room and board.  (Many teachers lived with the students and their parents going from one house to another).

2. Teachers will be required to spend weekends in the community unless permission is granted by the Chairman of the Board.

3. It is understood that teachers will attend church each Sunday and take an active part, particularly in choir and Sunday School work.

4. Dancing, card playing and the theatre are works of the Devil that lead to gambling, immoral climate, and influence and will not be tolerated.

5. Community plays are given annually.  Teachers are expected to participate.

6. When laundering petticoats and unmentionables it is best to dry them in a flour sack or pillow case.  (So no one sees them hanging on the line to dry).

7. Any teacher who smokes cigarettes, uses liquor in any form, frequents a pool or public hall, or (for men) gets shaved in a barber shop, (or for women) bobbs (cuts) her hair, has dyed hair, wears short skirts (could not be any shorter than 2 inches above the ankles) and has undue use of cosmetics will not be tolerated under any circumstances.

8. Teachers will not marry or keep company with a man friend during the week except as an escort to church services.  (The only man a woman teacher could be seen with was her father or her brother).

9. Loitering in ice cream parlors, drug stores, etc., is prohibited.

10. Purchasing or reading the Sunday Supplement on the Sabbath will not be tolerated.

11. Discussing political views or party choice is not advisable.

12. Men teachers may take one evening each week for courting purposes or two evenings a week if they go to church regularly.

13. After 10 hours in school, the teacher should spend the remaining time reading the Bible or other good books.

14. Women teachers who marry or engage in other unseemly conduct will be dismissed.

15. Every teacher should lay aside from his pay a goodly sum for his declining years so that he will not become a burden on society.

16. The teacher who performs his labors faithfully and without fault for five years will be given an increase of 25 cents a week in his pay providing the Board of Education approves.


1894 Teachers Certificate

These early Story County, Iowa teachers certificates included grades in each tested subject; Orthography, Reading, Writing, Arithmetic, Geography, Grammar, Didactics, Physiology and Hygiene, U.S. History, Music, Elementary Economics, Elementary Civics, Elementary Algebra, Elementary Physics, and the Theory and Practice of Teaching.

(image courtesy Cambridge Historical Society)

from a rural Iowa Story County country school in 1874

- Rules governing Teachers - 

1.  Each Teacher Teaching in Independent District No. one is Required to be in the School Room fifteen minutes before the time fixed Nine O'clock AM and one O'clock PM for the Session to begin.

2.  the morning Exercises Shall Commence with Reading a Short Portion of the Scriptures without Comment which may be optionally followed by Prayer and Singing.

3.  Teachers are Required to be diligent and faithful in Teaching and governing all Pupils under their Care and in case of Repeated absence or Tardiness Report the Same to their Parents or Guardians and no teacher is allowed in any way to appropriate to him or her Self any Portion of time which belongs to School hours.

4.  Teachers are to exercise a Kind and Parental discipline and Show no Partiality whatever in School to any Pupil or Pupils nor Change their Seats without their consent after they have occupied the Same for one Week, avoiding Corporal Punishment when good order Can be Preserved by using milder means but they Shall endeavor to correct all misconduct and for Persistent insubordination or flagrant offenses they may be temporarily Suspended or expel Pupils and Report the same to the board of Directors who shall Confirm or Reverse it, but it Shall Stand good until Such action.  Teachers Shall also Conform to all other Rules Required by Law.

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(image courtesy Cambridge Historical Society)

- Rules governing Pupils -

1.  All Pupils Shall be Prompt and Punctual in their attendance at the opening of Each Session and Remain Till its Close except by Permission of the Teacher and in Case of absence or tardiness Shall be required to give a Satisfactory excuse to the Teacher or Remain un excused.

2.  Pupils are Required to be attentive and diligent in their Studies obedient and Courteous to their Teacher and directors, and in all their intercourse and deportment with one another Conduct them Selves in an orderly and decent manner.  They are Strictly to abstain from Profane Language, offensive epithets, falsehoods and from all obscene conduct, quarling, fighting, Calling each other Nick Names or abusing each other in any manner.

3.  And no Pupil or Teacher is Permitted for Perusal to bring any Papers or Periodicals, Books or Novels having no connection with the Branches Taught in School.

4.  All Pupils are Strictly forbidden to injure the School house or any of its furniture or any of its out buildings fences or trees or affects of any Pupil belonging to the School, any Pupil found guilty of wantonly or carelessly doing injury to any of the above Named Property Shall under Penalty of Suspension have the Same Satisfactory Restored by his Parents or guardians which must be done immediately without unnecessarily discommaeling School.

5.  All Playful exercises are to be without the School house and no games of Chance or dancing are allowed in the School House.

6.  The Teacher is Required to Read these Rules in School every Monday morning.

Daniel Finch, Secretary

1899 Teacher's Certificate

This Certificate is good for the time named subject to the following conditions: That the holder of this certificate will make such reports as the County Superintendent may require, attend teachers' meetings held within reasonable distance, and conform to all legal requirements in the discharge of duty.

Notes of Explanation

1.  The standing in "Professional Interest" is based on the interest taken in Teachers' Meetings, Professional Reading, and Success in Teaching.

2.  The requirement in scholarship for Two Years' First Class Certificates is a standing of at least 92 per cent. in all branches of study; Second Class an average of 82 per cent. with no branch below 75 per cent.

3.  Certificates will not be granted to males under 19 and females under 18 years of age.


1905 Teacher's Certificate