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Schuler Art Glass Window

October 11, 2011

McPherson Elementary grammar school in Chicago has a nice antique window in the Tiffany style. The window is a memorial and it is not dated.  I decided to see what I could learn about it with the power of the interwebz. 

The window itself indicates it was made by Schuler Art Glass Co.  The maker’s name is in the lower left hand corner.  The dedication plaque is large and centered.

A Google Books scan of Chicago Vacation Schools, 1900 indicated that Miss Addie V. H. Barr was an elementary school teacher at McPherson.  She was “Miss” because if she had married, she was out of a job; in those days, women were expected to quit their careers or were terminated if they married.  There was no further information about her on or near the window.  She possibly stayed in the school as a teacher for a long time. 

The book source, with a forward from 1898, has more interesting information.  What we would call inner city kids -in their times, ones from “industrial” neighborhood- had over worked parents.  A kind of summer school system was developed in Chicago.  Teachers elected to work for low pay over their summer break to oversee forty students in various learning and enrichment programs designed to keep the children off of the streets and away from “the devil’s workshop”. 

Tickets were passed out to children deemed in need by teachers and some truancy officers.  Children were enrolled in the Vacation Schools on first-come basis for all of the schools save one.  The aim was to place no more than forty students to each teacher.  It seems there would often be fifteen to twenty students in groups and the teachers worked cooperatively in the program.  Because this was still Chicago, some children were mugged and their ticket -basically an application to be in the program- was stripped from them and had to be restored by authorities. 

The programs were to not have books but included “nature study, drawing and painting from nature, music, gymnastics and games, sewing and manual training.”  Addie Barr was one of these Vacation School teachers, and was paid about $50.60 for her six weeks of service.  The book praises the teachers heavily for putting the needs of children above the want for money.

I did find out a little more about the maker.  Abram John Schuler was born in Warren, Pennsylvania May 13, 1860 and educated in Chicago.  He was originally partners in a glass firm, then branched out to his own company.  This window would have been made after 1907 as that is when the company came to exist under the name Schuler Art Glass Co.

The book with this biography dates from 1910 and seems like a pretty good idea for the time: round up a bunch of fat cats from a few major cities and publish about them.  If they each bought a few copies, the publisher was guaranteed some decent sales.  Screw LinkedIn.  Those were the days!

This is pretty typical for history and genealogy.  There will be information or more information on the men, and women will have little data or be ghosts.  The most information found was about the ideas of the time for summer Vacation Schools and addressing the needs of students in distress. 

The Vacation School premise was seated in simple ideas to bring creativity in the arts, learning new skills and access to nature through outings to the children in order to engage them in a positive way and influence an interest in continued learning.  The funds were raised privately to pay for the program and members of the community contributed in various ways to ensure its success.  Those are all ideas I can get behind today.

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Categories: Art History, Uncategorized
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