1895 Salina, Kansas Eighth Grade Graduation Exam-Unproven!
Summary of eRumor:
The email lists questions from what it says is an exam required for eighth grade graduation in 1895 in Salina, Kansas. It is described as an example of how much more educated an eighth grader was a hundred years ago than today.
TruthOrFiction.com has listed this eRumor as unproven, even though there is a source for it and we have obtained an actual copy of the exam. There has not been sufficient proof given, in our view, that the exam is what is claimed.
Rather than being for eighth graders, there are several aspects of the exam that raise the question as to whether it was intended for adults, perhaps newly graduated teachers or teacher applicants.
The eRumor says the exam is from the Smokey Valley Genealogical Society in Salina, Kansas, and was published in the Salina Journal newspaper. That is true. Shirley Tower, the volunteer librarian for the Smokey Valley Genealogical Society, found the exam and posted it on their website in 1996 and the Salina Journal’s article appeared the same year. The exam started circulating on the Internet and became the subject of numerous newspaper articles including in the Washington Post and the Boston Globe.
There is no reason to doubt the authenticity of the exam, but there are questions about for whom it was intended (If the graphics are difficult to read, place your pointing device arrow over the graphic for details).
First, the original exam doesn’t mention the eighth grade. Here is an actual photograph of the title of the document:
Second, the document describes itself as being administered orally and for “applicants.” Unless eight graders were described as “applicants,” it makes one wonder if the exam was actually for newly graduated teachers:
Third, some of the questions don’t seem to be oriented toward students, but rather toward a teacher or a teacher applicant, for example: