Women became teachers and educators as America industrialized during the nineteenth century. Men left the classroom for more lucrative jobs at factories, banks and railroads. Few opportunities had been available for women outside of the home. The classroom offered women financial independence and a respectable alternative to marriage. By the twentieth century, the majority of all teachers were female.
In the early nineteenth century, one could become a teacher by convincing the local school board of their moral character. Some states required a general knowledge test, but overall, there was no national standard for teacher certification. As the demand for teachers grew, cities and states sought to create an education profession. By the beginning of the twentieth century, colleges and universities had developed specialized programs and departments to educate teachers and administrators. Like medicine and law, education became a recognized profession, regulated by state laws and certifications.
Against this backdrop of national standardization, Nevada teachers and educators lobbied the University’s Board of Regents for a summer school for teachers. In 1912, the University held its first summer school.
When the University was founded in 1874, Nevada was sparsely populated. The first class consisted of 35 students. Today, the enrollment exceeds 21,000 students —including more than 40 percent students of color. The University of Nevada, Reno is committed to a diverse, inclusive and equitable environment for all University community members—students, faculty, staff and alumni—and throughout our surrounding communities.
Photos and excerpts from the Summer School Diaries 1912-1914 with additional materials from University Archives and Special Collections at the University of Nevada, Reno.
Sunday June 23rd marked the arrival in Reno of a number of the teachers to attend the summer school. After wandering aimlessly through the streets and making repeated inquiries of passerby, they were directed to Manzanita Hall.
July 13th Shall I attempt to describe Lake Tahoe? This body of water that half fills the ragged edge cup formed by snow-capped pine forested mountains! The glories of Lake Tahoe lie beyond the power of the pen. Each one must see it and drink its beauties into his own soul. No writer’s pen or painter’s brush can give any adequate expression to the glorious coloring of the water. The deep, dark rich blue at Rubicon point. That clear, cool green in Emerald Bay with the many and varied colors further out into the lake.
On the morning of July 20th, a merry crowd of summer schoolers boarded the V and T for Virginia City. After lunch, we went down to the mine where each one was given a blue flannel shirt and a pair of trousers with directions to make an entire change. And an entire change it was! Our guide furnished us with candles and we followed him through a tunnel so hot that we left a trail of perspiration behind us.
July 30th The summer school now closing is we trust, the beginning of a large and permanent movement on the part of the University of Nevada for awarding that mental, spiritual, and physical uplift of which all who are privileged to teach feel the need and which all worthy teacher desire.