In partnership with the Maine Memory Network Maine Memory Network

Maine Memory Network

Back to School

Text by Candace Kanes

Images from Maine Historical Society, Aroostook County Historical and Art Museum, Caribou Public Library, East Grand School, Fryeburg Academy Archives, Fryeburg Public Library, L.C. Bates Museum/Good Will Hinckley Home and Pejepscot Historical Society

Maine officially became part of Massachusetts in 1677 and therefore was subject to the laws of that colony, which had required since 1647 that public schools be established.

Despite the law, most youth did not have access to public schools.

By the mid to late eighteenth century, schools were more common in Maine. Some educated both boys and girls; some were limited to one sex or the other.

When Maine became a separate state in 1820, legislators soon passed a school code that required towns to raise money to educate people ages 4 to 21.

The state's first enforced compulsory education law was passed in 1887 and since that time, fall has meant "back to school" for most young people in the state.