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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
13: On the School Bus: Martinsburg, Indiana, 1939

Consolidating Schools

In rural areas in the 1930s, school buses meant the end of the one-room school. Progressive educators favored larger schools, arguing they would provide students a better, more standardized education. Some rural citizens feared consolidation would bring higher taxes and a loss of involvement in their children’s education. One midwestern farmer said his local school was “the center—educational, social, dramatic, political, and religious—of a pioneer community.” But declining rural populations and better roads spelled the end of one-room schools. In 1920 Indiana had 4,500 one-teacher schools; in 1945, just 616.

Students at the MartinsburgSchool, 1941
Students at the Martinsburg
School, 1941
Martinsburg School, Martinsburg, Indiana, 1940s
Martinsburg School, Martinsburg, Indiana, 1940s
In 1923 the new Martinsburg School was opened, replacing several local one-room schoolhouses. Over the next 20 years, as Jackson Township’s population decreased and school buses became more practicable, more schools were consolidated into the Martinsburg School. In 1940, when the township purchased this school bus, the last one-room schoolhouse in the township was closed.
36-passenger Dodge school bus, 1936 (Carpenter body), 1939 (chassis)
This school bus served a small consolidated school in Martinsburg, in rural south-central Indiana. Safety was key to school bus design. This bus had an all-steel chassis and bright orange paint. The eye-catching color, called double-deep orange, was chosen for safety reasons. Yellow became the standard in 1939 and was gradually adopted nationwide.
36-passenger Dodge school bus, 1936 (Carpenter body), 1939 (chassis)
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