Children all around Kansas City have said goodbye to the lazy days of summer, packed up their book bags, and migrated back to the classroom. Was it a big deal when you returned to school in the fall? What kind of special things do you remember? Were you excited or disinterested, happy or sad about starting a new school year?

While much has changed in the Kansas City School District, many of the back-to-school scenes remain the same.

Prior to the establishment of the Kansas City Public School District in 1867 only a few private and parochial schools existed. Today the ever-evolving district includes 22 elementary schools, six high schools, and a technical college. The district originally served 2,150 children but today educates nearly 16,690 children and employs nearly 2,300 teachers and administrators.

While a new pair of Nikes and an iPhone were not on the back-to-school shopping lists of the early to mid-twentieth century when these photographs were taken, the experiences of school children remain remarkably similar – first day jitters, reuniting with old friends, and the wonderful smells from the school cafeteria!

The Missouri Valley Special Collections holds a number of photographs from bygone days when two-room school houses were heated by coal stoves to “modern” times when physical education classes finally went co-ed. Our extensive holdings of school yearbooks are some of our most popular historical materials used by researchers.
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