Throwback Thursday: 1920 Indiana Teachers’ Licensing Exam

Willennar Genealogy Center’s collection is full of Throwback Thursday potential, so let’s get our #TBT on!

Do you have what it takes to teach school in 1920s Indiana? Take a look at this license exam for Indiana teachers to find out!

Examination Notes

This examination, which is part of the John Martin Smith Collection, was taken by individuals applying for teaching licenses in the state of Indiana in April of 1920.

Applicants would pay a fee of 75 cents to take the exam, and would have to adhere to a strict set of rules while taking the test.

The entire exam was to be taken using a pen and ink in order to prevent “erasures and changes” from being made. Mistakes were to be crossed out with a single mark so that “the Superintendent  may see the error as well as the correction.” In the Arithmetic section, all work was to be shown.

Communication of any kind was strictly forbidden during the test— including asking questions about the exam itself. If an applicant had “any doubts as to the meaning of a question,” they were to note these doubts on their exam along with their answer. The Superintendent, it was noted, would take these into consideration.

Below are the “Forenoon Questions, Common School and Primary.” Click on an image to get a closer look.

Besides the actual exam questions, the applicants also had to answer a series of questions about their educational background. How long had they been teaching? Which teaching licenses had they already held? What sorts of “papers and periodicals” do they read? What books from the Teacher’s Reading Circle had they read? What was the extent of their education?

Since the exam was entirely handwritten, applicants were also graded on penmanship, orthography, and their grasp of the English language. Questions that could have multiple answers, were to be graded by “the intelligence shown in the answers, rather than for their conformity to the views of the Superintendent.”

Below are “Afternoon Questions, Common School and Primary.” Click on an image to get a closer look.

Want to see more local history? Click here to browse our online photo database or visit the official Genealogy Center Facebook page.


About Chelsea

I've been working at Willennar Genealogy Center for over two years now, and I've loved every minute of getting to learn more about the stories of DeKalb County and the surrounding area. I'm interested in all kinds of history, but I'm especially fond of the early film industry, old letters and journals, the DeKalb County Fair, and the Interurban line.
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