High schools in the US have changed dramatically since the late 19th century.
Since 1954, activists have fought racial inequalities in education and beyond.
Vintage photos of high schools also show how much gym classes, school buses, and more have changed.
Until the 20th century, high schools were typically attended only by the children of middle- and upper-class families, according to the Library of Congress.
But during the early 1900s, the country entered a period of significant social and political reform, which sparked increasing rates of high-school enrollment.
Since then, secondary education in the US has seen numerous dramatic changes, particularly following the Supreme Court's landmark ruling in Brown v. Board of Education, which made segregation in public schools illegal.
Fascinating vintage photos show how much high schools have evolved over the past two centuries.
Lucy Yang contributed to an earlier version of this report.
Until the early 20th century, high schools were typically attended only by the children of middle- and upper-class families.
During this time period, secondary schools were largely reserved for the children of wealthy parents — they were the ones who could afford to spend their days in the classroom instead of working to support their families, according to the Library of Congress.
Certain forms of physical education — like a wall-climbing apparatus from the late 1890s — are unrecognizable today.
According to the Library of Congress, Progressive Era reformers introduced physical education programs "on a wide scale" in the 1890s.
In 1900, the College Board was founded to expand access to higher education.
The College Board was created in 1900 as a not-for-profit membership association driven by the single goal of guaranteeing students "the opportunity to prepare for, enroll in, and graduate from college," according to The College Board.
The first entrance exams in 1901, PBS reported, "consisted of essay examinations in English, French, German, Latin, Greek, history, mathematics, chemistry, and physics."
Now, the association consists of more than 6,000 leading educational institutions and is dedicated to excellence and equity in education.
As schools began welcoming students from other socio-economic backgrounds, the type of classes offered also expanded.
As the economy improved, slightly higher wages came as a result, and more working-class families began sending their children to high schools, hoping they would come out with better jobs, according to the Library of Congress. This included learning essential trades, such as blacksmithing, as depicted above.
Students rode horse-drawn coaches to get to school in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
These early school "buses" were known as "school hacks" or "kid hacks," according to the Wayne County Historical Museum.
The early 1900s saw a dramatic increase in the number of high schools built and a boost to student enrollment.
A period of significant social and political reform, the Progressive Era changed the way Americans viewed education. School became a place where children could find their role in society and become productive citizens, according to the Library of Congress.
In 1918, the Commission on the Reorganization of Secondary Education declared the primary purposes of high schools were "health, citizenship, and worthy home-membership and, only secondarily, command of fundamental processes," according to a report by The Berc Group, "The Essence of College Readiness: Implications for Students, Parents, Schools, and Researchers."
By the 1930s, motorized school buses had become common.
According to The National Museum of American History, there were 63,000 school buses on the road by 1932.
Photos of gym classes from the 1930s show unfamiliar exercise equipment, including what looks like a human-sized hamster wheel.
Some women even rolled into the ocean using these exercise wheels, as seen in archival footage from the '30s and '40s, uncovered by YouTube channel MyFootage.com.
In 1940, for the first time in US history, about half of all students finished high school.
"In 1940, less than half of the population age 25 and older had a high school diploma. Over the years, this has increased to the point where we now have 90 percent who have completed high school," said Kurt Bauman, a demographer in the Social, Economic, and Housing Statistics division, according to a 2017 press release from the US Census.
Debates over religion's place in the classroom erupted in the mid-20th century.
During the 1950s, after the Supreme Court ruled that prayers did not belong in public schools, criticism erupted, and many rose up to challenge the merits of church versus state. It would spur a debate that would remain unresolved over decades to come.
According to Annenberg Classroom, surveys from the 1940s and 1950s reported that nine out of 10 surveyed believed in God, and five out of 10 attended worship regularly — figures that ring true to this day.
Related issues also fiercely debated included Bible reading in public schools and public schools excusing children to attend religion classes for one hour per week.
Photos of high schools during the mid-20th century show students listening to radio broadcasts during class.
Speaking to the Associated Press in 1950, Ira Jarrell, then the superintendent of Atlanta Public Schools, said that the radio broadcasting station at Russell High School in Atlanta, Georgia, was proving to be a "valuable adjunct in classroom work."
On-air classes first emerged during the 1920s, alongside the rise of commercial radio broadcasting, according to Purdue University.
Students also were taught using televisions.
According to the Institute of Progressive Education & Learning, the first documented use of closed-circuit televisions in the classroom was in Los Angeles public schools and at the State University of Iowa in 1939.
After that, the popularity of instructional television rose between 1939 and the 1950s.
The invention of videotapes in 1951 also introduced a then-novel way to teach and engage students, according to Purdue University.
In 1954, the United States Supreme Court ruled unanimously that segregation in public schools is unconstitutional.
Despite the court's landmark ruling, efforts to desegregate schools were met with widespread protests and riots, particularly by white Americans in the South who opposed integration, PBS reported.
By 1956, only 49% of Americans — 61% of Northerners and 15% of Southerners — believed that white and Black students should attend the same schools, according to Teaching Tolerance Magazine.
In one of the most infamous examples of Southern resistance to integration, nine black students were repeatedly blocked from entering Little Rock Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, over the course of three weeks in September 1957, according to the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture.
It wasn't until then-President Dwight Eisenhower intervened that the students — now known as the Little Rock Nine — were able to enter the school on September 25, escorted by a federalized Arkansas National Guard and troops from the 101st Airborne Division of the US Army.
Throughout the latter half of the 20th century, civil-rights activists continued to combat racial inequalities in education and beyond.
By 1963, 62% of Americans — 73% of Northerners and 31% of Southerners — believed that white and Black students should attend the same schools, according to Teaching Tolerance Magazine.
One year later, Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which ended segregation in public places and prohibited discrimination based on race, ethnicity, religion, sex, or national origin.
The 1960s was an era of American dominance in the area of chemical science.
According to "A Life and Career in Chemistry," life in the 1960s saw much upheaval, from the Vietnam War and student protests to assassinations of political activists and drug addiction. What many may not know is that chemical science also saw very significant advances.
For example, James Watson and Francis Crick discovered the ladder-like structure of DNA known as the double-helix structure, according to Fisher Science Education. They shared the Nobel Prize in Medicine with Maurice Wilkins in 1962.
In the 1980s, more schools began to introduce computers into classrooms.
While 18% of schools had computers in 1981, that number had grown to 98% by 1991, according to a 1992 article in "Education Week."
In the '90s, educators and software companies created new ways for students to learn using computers.
This decade saw the introduction of interactive content-based software packages, simulations, intelligent tutors, and cognitive-based learning tools in the classroom, according to the Institute of Progressive Education & Learning.
By the end of the 20th century, the use of laptops in the classroom was commonplace.
According to a 2016 article in "Education Week," one-to-one computing programs were introduced to elementary and secondary schools in the US in the late 1990s.
These initiatives allow each student to use an electronic device to access the internet and digital instructional materials.
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