Schools in rural Colorado, as in the rest of America, provided a community hub. By bringing together students for the important business of reading, writing and math, schools socialized geographically isolated children. School buildings also housed local meetings and recreational events.
By the early 20th century, one-room schoolhouses were falling by the wayside. School consolidation brought far-flung students into larger, regional classrooms located in county seats or other towns. While these new schools could boast bigger buildings and more schoolchildren, they still served a largely rural population.
School bus, Mead Consolidated School. Colorado State University Libraries, Archives and Special Collections, Historical Photographs Collection.
Greeley, one of those bigger farm towns, became home to the State Normal School (today the University of Northern Colorado) in 1890. That fall, the first prospective teachers came to learn their craft in an academic setting. Graduate students at the growing institution studied various aspects of education, and their thesis and dissertation work delved into country life, investigating how age, gender and ethnicity influenced learning in rural Colorado.