Social Studies

Retired Educator Donates 800 School Artifacts to National Museum

By Liana Loewus — November 04, 2014 1 min read

A former principal who has been gathering school artifacts dating back to the 1700s is giving most of his collection to the National Museum of American History, reports the Washington Post.

Richard Lodish, the retired head of Sidwell Friends Lower School in Washington, an elite private school that several presidents’ children have attended, has been filling his house with historical education items from auctions, flea markets, and eBay. Recently museum curators came by to clean him out. Here’s some of what they found, according to the Post:


  • A religious-themed alphabet chart (i.e., A is for Adam, “Who first of men became, to every beast and bird gave name”);
  • Penmanship books;
  • Report cards from 1884 that included grades for “deportment” and “declamation";
  • Old-fashioned book carriers with straps and a handle;
  • An 1897 school book of patriotic tunes, with songs such as “My Country ‘Tis of Thee” and “Hail, Columbia";
  • Tuition cards from a “colored school” in Georgia, charging 15 cents a month; and
  • “A giant scroll depicting the history of the world";

The museum, part of the Smithsonian Institution, plans to take about 800 items. “I just felt that many, many more people would be interested in what I’ve collected,” Lodish told the newspaper. “Especially kids. ... I think they would be very interested if they’re, like, in the 4th, 5th or 6th grade.”

See the full story for photos of the collection.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.