Visions and Voices: Montana's One-Room Schoolhouses
FROM FORWORD BY IVAN DOIG:
“…childhood is the one story that stands by itself in every soul.” It is also the chorus within the pages of this inspired project—and beautiful book—Charlotte Caldwell has achieved with her photographs and interviews that truly, almost miraculously, add up to the Visions and Voices of one state’s history of rural schooling.
MADE IN MONTANA:
Visions and Voices is a celebration of the richness of talent, creativity, and productivity of Montanans yesterday and today. It is a product of Montana—printed, edited, designed, formatted, and distributed
by Montana companies.
The story of Montana’s one-room schoolhouses, as recollected and recounted by those most intimately connected to those places, is the story of the American frontier and the high value placed on education by those who came to homestead, mine, or work the railroads. These stories—told by students and teachers, many of whom are now in their eighties or nineties—tell of adventures traveling to and from school, the school day, recess games, family life, daily chores, and above all, the sense of community, as defined by these iconic humble schoolhouses. Their voices share memories and perspectives about a way of life, gone for the most part, and breathe life into these visions of rural heritage.
The architectural diversity of these schoolhouses and the materials used building them
- wood, stone, stucco, brick, log, and tin reflects the variety of the landscapes of which they are a part.
The multi-grade setting allowed for simultaneous methods of learning to occur: individualized attention from the teacher, listening and learning from older students, mentoring younger students, and the development of academic independence and responsibility.
SOCIAL MATURITY AND LACK OF DISCIPLINARY PROBLEMS:
There is an enormous amount of social learning that occurs when kids of all ages have to get along in a small space. Each day, as they shared the same classroom, recesses, and lunches, they were developing life skills of cooperation, teamwork, sharing the limelight, thoughtfulness, and friendship.
One-room schools were, and still are in the case of currently operational schools, the central unifying force in the community. They also hosted dances, community meetings, pot-luck suppers, and elections.
Currently there are around 60 operating one-room schools in the state of Montana. The number fluctuates with the demographics of the rural areas.
"Visions and Voices" beautifully tells the story of the essential role that one-room schoolhouses played in making Montana the place it is today. In her images of these structures and her interviews with those who spent time in them, Charlotte Caldwell captures an important piece of Montana history that should not be allowed to disappear. Places tell stories, and many of these deeply moving stories evoke echos of Ivan Doig's marvelous "The Whistling Season." Montanans of all ages who care about their history should read this book, and people elsewhere who simply like great stories should read it as well.I love it!"
- Richard Moe, President Emeritus, National Trust for Historic Preservation
"With iconic images wedded to colorful, heartfelt prose, Caldwell offers a fascinating journey across Montana and deep into the identity of the hardy souls determined to plant themselves within this immense landscape and make a go of it. The small building sheathed in clapboard, with few visible signs of connection to its community, marked that determination, collecting the received wisdom of inhabitants and immigrants, blending them slowly with the hard won experience of life under the Big Sky, creating an authentic and unique society."
- Hugh Ambrose
"Charlotte has captured the historic majesty of Montana's rich tradition of community-based education through these narratives and her photography. Her work makes an important and beautiful contribution to keeping this story alive for future generations to enjoy."
- Denise Juneau, Montana Superintendent of Public Instruction.
HOW TO ORDER:
Please help preserve these endangered treasures. 100% of the net profits from the sale of this book go directly to the Preserve Montana Fund for the stabilization and preservation of Montana’s Historic One-Room Schoolhouses. Please order directly from the Montana History Foundation (MHF) ….ordering link…. so the entire profit will benefit the preservation of one room schools. Thank you.
or call MT History Foundation and ask to speak with Gena Ashmore.
Montana History Foundation
1750 North Washington Street
Helena, MT 59601