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School days featured on vintage Successful Farming covers

From the very first issue of Successful Farming in 1902, our magazine has been about more than just livestock, crops, and machinery. The quality of life of farm families has always been an important topic, including the education of farm children. These beautiful covers ranging from 1902 to 1959 provide a glimpse into school days of the past.

September 1910

What a sweet look into the yesteryear. These five little friends are dressed in their best clothes as they head down the dirt road to school, arm-in-arm.

September 1910

May 1913

Herbert Stitt created this comical illustration. The young boy is getting a good talking-to from his teacher, apparently for skipping school to go fishing. Who can blame him? The artist was born in 1880 and worked as a ranch hand.


October 1915

Long before refillable water bottle stations lined school hallways, students took turns walking around with a bucket of water from the outdoor pump, offering classmates a drink from a community cup.

October 1915

September 1916

Could this little boy have a secret crush on his pretty teacher, or did he give her that apple to get into her good graces on the first day of school? Maybe his mom made him do it.

September 1916

October 1927

This little girl is about to scream, surely getting the spider-dropping boy behind her in trouble with the teacher. He looks like he thinks it will be worth it, though. Artist Russell Sambrook painted this cover art. He also did four covers for The Saturday Evening Post.

October 1927

September 1929

The walk to school can be a long one. In this sweet painting, a little girl stops and waits for her brother, who's carrying his book bag and lunchbox. Maybe he's carrying hers too.

September 1929

September 1933

The best thing about school is getting to see your friends every day, and these two girls are very happy to be reunited after summer vacation.

September 1933

September 1934

The school bell is ringing, calling students to come inside. Groups of friends make their way toward the school while a couple of boys get a last-minute drink from the hand pump.

September 1934

September 1939

This young teacher is identified as Myrtle Burke. From the looks of the blackboard, her students are working hard on fractions. On her desk is a copy of the book From Morning Till Night, a story about a group of children, their Scottie dog, and a pair of pet bear cubs.

1939 september

February 1943

"We're prepared at Oak Grove School," reads the cover blurb on this issue. Students in the Red Cross Club are practicing their first aid skills on a classmate. It looks like he's in good hands.

1943 February

September 1947

The cover blurb for this issue reads, "Before you judge the one-room school, read Spring-Dale's story." In 1919, there were 190,000 one-room schools in the U.S., and today there are still 400, mostly in rural Western areas.

1947 September

October 1947

It's a long way from the farm to Cornell University, but Bernard Stanton and Shirley Makes made it! Shirley graduated from Cornell in 1948 and went on to be a counselor at a community college and leader in civic activities. Bernard graduated with a bachelor's degree from Cornell's College of Agriculture in 1949, went on to the University of Minnesota and Oxford University, then returned to Cornell as an agricultural economics professor. 

1947 October

March 1949

Those March ice storms can sure be nasty! This would probably be a snow day today, but in 1949, the bus made its way to this farmhouse to pick up the kids for school. Dad is waving in the background.

1949 March

September 1959

Diann and Kathleen Dennis of Lee County, Illinois, know how to throw a pre-football-game tailgate party! Mom holds a cake touting the match between the Eagles and Clippers, while the daughter, clad in her school sweater, pours drinks at the snack table.

1959 September

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