Depressive School Laws and the Plain People

Reecntly I cataloged an item into the collection that appears to be fairly rare.  I only found one other library in the OCLC WorldCat describing it as I had it — though there are seven libraries that have a very similar item (their pamphlet has a publisher, while ours does not).  Still, only nine libraries worldwide reporting this document isn’t very many.

The item carries the title: A Brief history of educational standards from the early Bible days to the present.  It carries no publisher, but is dated 1939.  (And, just for completeness, the other version on WorldCat has the imprint “New Holland, Pa. : New Holland Clarion.”)

 Now then, what makes it topical for this blog is that it comes with a cover title “Report of committee of Plain People making pleas for leniency from depressive school laws” and the second part has the title “Report of action taken by the Plain People, asking the authorities for leniency in school matters, together with related historical data assembled by the committee.” 

Back in the 1930’s the commonwealth had not worked out its religious exceptions to compulsory school attendance laws as quickly as the ‘Plain People’ (i.e., the Amish and conservative Mennonites) had worked out the exceptions they wanted to be granted.  The only other Pennsylvania libraries reporting copies of this 103 page pamphlet are Franklin & Marshall College, and Penn State.  It’s a good piece of local Lancaster County, PA history that had — and has — wider implications.  Our call number is: Rare Collections Library 379.23 P691 1939.

Published in: on 31 October 2007 at 12:33 pm  Leave a Comment