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America on the Move
Collection Exhibition Themes
Transportation in America before 1876 Community Dreams: Santa Cruz, California, 1876 Delivering the Goods: Watsonville, California, 1895 A Streetcar City: Washington, D.C., 1900 Family Camping: York Beach, Maine, 1930s Roadside Communities: Ring's Rest, Muirkirk, Maryland, 1930s The People's Highway: Route 66, 1930s-1940s Lives on the Railroad: Salisbury, North Carolina, 1927 Americans Adopt the Auto Crossing the Country: Somewhere in Wyoming, 1903 The Connected City: New York, New York, 1920s People on the Move Suburban Strip: Sandy Boulevard, Portland, Oregon, 1949 City and Suburb: Chicago and Park Forest, Illinois, 1950s On the Interstate: I-10, 1956-1990 Transforming the Waterfront: San Francisco and Oakland, California, 1960-1970 Going Global: Los Angeles Introduction Consolidating Schools Riding the bus
On the School Bus

Martinsburg, Indiana, 1939

It’s an early winter morning in rural Indiana, and Russell Bishop is getting ready to drive his school bus route. His daughter Mary Lou is with him, and his double-deep orange school bus is parked outside the family farm’s barn. An interactive station lets you hear what life was like for the children who rode this bus.

View from the exhibition
View from the exhibition

The End of the One-Room Schoolhouse

In rural areas, the introduction of school buses changed the character of the communities they served and the lives of the children who rode to school. Students who had once walked to a local, often one-room, schoolhouse now rode a bus to a larger consolidated school where they were taught in separate grades. Progressive educators viewed buses as a step toward modernizing rural education. By 1932, there were 63,000 school buses on the road.

In Martinsburg, Indiana, school administrators—like their colleagues in other rural communities—saw school buses as a way to give children access to better education, and to save money. Some parents objected; they liked the local schools and thought that consolidated schools would increase taxes. But in 1939, three small one-room schools closed, and their 75 students began to take buses to the Martinsburg School.

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