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The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

October 17 2010 at 7:32 PM

The paddle seems to be very much the preferred implement in USA schools. When did it first come into widespread use? I am particularly interested in early mentions of the school paddle in dated factual or fictional literature, and in official documents.

Have other cultures used the paddle in schools?

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American Way

Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

October 18 2010, 12:37 AM 

When the paddle was first employed as an instrument of correction is a question that interests me but I cannot be of direct help. Its root in slavery is one possible reason it was instrument of choice. The ideal slave was a subservient one and on auction day the sight of welts was a dead give away that they were auctioning damaged goods. Paddle marks were easier to hide and would dissipate by auction time. Erotic literature had the paddle used on black woman and it was used on children because it was consider less vicious. A case can be made that there was a carry over to children taught in a classroom.

Page three of a previous post is well worth re-reading. by male slave holders. In Catholic schools classroom yardsticks were used while a strap was used in the nearby public school. Principals were mostly men and it was an extension of a belt IMO. No proof again but a reasonable surmise. The cane seemed a carry over from the British Isles in the principals office of the Irish order of sisters and there were dowels like canes.

The switch and the hickory stick were used in rural communities. The stick was more often used in the classroom.



An example of an early mention of the school paddle

October 18 2010, 2:13 AM 

WIDOW WHIPS SCHOOL HEAD; Ohio Mother Lashes Principal Who Had Paddled Her Son
The New York Times May 17, 1922 (Hyperlink)

This brief news item is of interest in that it implies the paddle was well known in 1922 as no explanation is offered as to what was done to the boy. Interestingly, the 1913 edition of the Webster does not mention paddle as a verb.


Another NYT article

October 18 2010, 2:45 AM 

Chicago Psychiatrist Asserts the 19th Year Is Crucial Age Among Juveniles

CHICAGO, Nov. 16 , 1935 (AP). -- Old fashioned wooden paddles lustily applied to 19-year-old boys would reduce juvenile crimes, Dr. Harry R. Hoffman, director of the Cook County Behavior Clinic, said today.

The New York Times November 17, 1935

It is unclear from this short excerpt whether all 19 year olds should be paddled or only the naughty ones. Nor is it clear how many such paddlings are required. There is no mention of girls.

American Way

Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

October 18 2010, 5:30 PM 

I apologize for posting under the wrong thread twice in a row. I'm having a hard day, having just posted the knout and bastinado under the wrong thread. What did I do? I searched instrument of correction and responded to my previous misplaced postings.

Spanking in other languages was the question. Remember the used Romance Languages (FRIPS). French, Romanian, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish. I'm told that the Romanians, often the gypsies, moved about the Roman Empire so speak the closest to Latin. Can anyone affirm or debunk this? Is it apocryphal? It's off topic but how many times have I been taking to task for that? So be it.

Instruments of correction like martinet and ferule are named and used in the European continent.



Did the paddle replace the switch?

October 18 2010, 10:02 PM 

WHIPPING IN THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS (21 year old girl beaten with hickory rod - editorial)

For a half century or more the courts and law books have been saying in a routine way that a school-teacher has the right by law to inflict moderate chastisement upon disobedient or disorderly pupils. Some of them have...

New York Times March 16, 1879,

Teachers in many countries seem to have had a propensity towards severe corporal punishment. They seemed to have had a largely free hand until education first started to become compulsory towards the end of the 19th century and parents started to object to excesses. The paddle may have replaced the switch because it is less likely to leave marks.


Twigs that broke the camel's back?

October 18 2010, 10:12 PM 


Complaints against teachers of the public schools for undue, and in some instances unmerciful, punishment of boys have of late been common in both Queens and Suffolk Counties. At the Jerusalem (Town of Hempstead) School there was considerable excitement ...

New York Times January 25, 1880


Humour in 1889

October 18 2010, 10:41 PM 


Except: Arbor Day had been better observed than was expected. In the vote on a [New York] State tree the sugar maple received 43 per cent of the votes of the children, the oak 24 per cent and the elm 16 per cent. The birch, hickory and willow, he observed, with surprise, were unpopular and the rattan got no votes at all.

New York Times July 4, 1889

No mention of the paddle. Rattan is known. The sugar maple is the NY state tree today.


Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

October 18 2010, 10:52 PM 

DEBATE ON CORPORAL PUNISHMENT; New-Jersey House Says Newark Teachers Shall Not Use the Rattan

TRENTON, N.J., March 19. -- Two hours of the time of the House to-night was devoted to a warm debate on corporal punishment in schools. The debate was precipitated by a Newark bill. Assemblyman Eisele of Orange was the spokesman for the bill. He had much ...

New York Times March 20, 1894

Rattan is mention in the headline only. The debate seemed to have been about the requirement for parental approval rather than implements.



Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

October 18 2010, 11:15 PM 


I just have a gut feeling paddling as the majority option is going to date to post WWII.

There's very little mention of anything pre-War other than whipping(which I take to be the fabled hickory stick, which I seem to remember from Mark Twain. I also remember Harry Morgan as Col Sherman Potter in MASH(TV series) mentioning the woodshed & whippings & that was set in the early 1950's.




Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

October 19 2010, 12:12 AM 

A most interesting series of items from the New York Times in bygone days in the above posts by KK. There seems to have been a great deal of common sense in evidence in the court decisions listed in the item from 1879 concerning the unjustified punishment of the young lady. What a pity that common sense has become so much less common in today's world!

In the above article it is notable that in the Missouri case concerning parental rights to withdraw a child from classes in a particular subject, the subject at issue was Geography. Perhaps problems with Geography teachers go back a great deal further than those recently documented in this thread happy.gif

And off-topic. Reading on into the second article in the last of KKs links I am intrigued by the items sold by Edward H Alcott, the father of the incorrigible Indian shooting paper boy. I durst not name these items here least they, quite rightly in this Family Forum, attract the attention of larry1951 wink.gif but would anyone care to speculate what on earth these might actually have been in 1894? happy.gifwink.gifhappy.gif


Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

October 19 2010, 9:58 AM 

In "The Marx Brothers in the Wild West" Groucho tells a pretty Indian lady "I see you have canoe - well you can paddle me any time..." So he took for granted that "paddle" meant "spank" (and being paddled by a pretty lady could be enjoyable!) That was around 1940, I would think.


Dean Clarke

Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

October 19 2010, 10:53 AM 

America is somewhat outside my core areas of research, but I do have a reliable and unambiguous report in my files of a paddle being used to administer corporal punishment in a Pennsylvania school in 1915 (The Reading Eagle, June 15th, 1915), and by a private tutor in 1914 (Los Angeles Times, December 5th, 1914). After those two, more and more references start appearing gradually.

Both use the term as if it's one that some people would understand clearly, but which still requires some explanation.


Bob T

Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

October 19 2010, 12:59 PM 

There are plenty of accounts of paddles being used on slaves pre 1865. They had holes drilled in them and were called hornets by the slaves.

When they made the transition to schools is anybodies guess.


Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

October 19 2010, 9:52 PM 

Excerpts from:

A dictionary of American English on historic principles

Compiled at the University of Chicago under the editorship of W A Craigie & J R Hulbert. Oxford University Press (1942, 1960).

This dictionary was intended to pick up where the Oxford English Dictionary left off. It covers American English words and phrases in use from the first English settlements up to the start of the 20th century.

Paddle (noun)

2a. A perforated, paddle-shaped ferule used in punishing Negro slaves; a blow from this.

1828. Cherokee Phoenix 10 April. Should any negro be found vending spiritous liquors, without permission from his owner, such negro so offending shall receive fifteen cobbs or paddles for every such offence.

1856. Olmsted, Slave States. 281. The paddle is a large, thin ferules of wood, in which many small holes are bored; when a blow is struck; these holes, from the rush and partial exhaustion of air in them act like diminutive cups.

2d. A hornbook.

1886. Z F Smith, Kentucky 691. The smaller children were furnished with a paddle, which had their letters and a, b, c's printed on it. When the paddle was finished, the children could then own a Dilworth speller. [Were children spanked with the hornbooks or shingles?]

Paddle (verb)

3. To beat or spank (a person) with, or as with, a paddle.

1856. Olmsted, Slave States, 189. I thought it was nothing but damned sulkiness, so I paddled him, and made him go to work.

1904. Hartford Courant, 23 June 8. A secret society of girls 'initiated' some neophytes by blindfolding them ... paddling them, and then rolling them down a steep hill.

1907. Springfield W. Republican, 22 August 6. "I'll paddle you!" is the threat used by despairing mothers and teachers (in Texas) in case of necessary discipline; and sure enough they do, with a regular wooden paddle constructed for the purpose.


1. Beating, thrashing, or spanking with, or as with, a paddle; a beating.

1851. Hooper, Widow Ruby, 96. What a devil of a paddlin' the old woman gin him with the battlin'-stick

1856. Olmsted, Slave States 189. I sent them word to give him a good paddling, and handcuff him.

1862. N.Y. Tribune 13 Jan 4/4. All the starving, paddling and pickling in the world will not ensure good crops ... Let Bleeding Africa go.


The above 1907 quote is apparently the earliest mention of school paddling the compilers of the dictionary were aware off. Members of this forum can do real research by finding earlier mentions than this.



Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

October 19 2010, 10:32 PM 

Hi KK. A most excellent and comprehensive post. I doubt anyone will beat that 1907 date, but we'll see!


Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

October 20 2010, 12:13 AM 

Prison school leather paddle, 1898

CHICAGO BAD BOYS SPANKED; Innovation in a Public Institution Which Works Well.

New York Times, December 5, 1898

American Way

Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

October 20 2010, 1:27 AM 

Paddles in Memphis TN. I wonder if it was atypical to spare girls bottoms from something other than the hand in the genteel south for southern belles?


Memphis Paddlings



Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

October 20 2010, 2:40 AM 

Hi American Way

Paddles in Memphis TN. I wonder if it was atypical to spare girls bottoms from something other than the hand in the genteel south for southern belles?

Dixon said "All students would love to take over the school" and "Without such punishment pupils will have no respect for their teachers..."

As girls were exempt from the paddle, presumably Dixon was quite happy for them to take over the school and to have no respect for their teachers.

American Way

Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

October 20 2010, 3:41 AM 

IMO Tennessee 1959 girls were not emancipated. They were probably behaving like ladies within the confines the definition of its time. Rowdy and disrespectful behavior was socially sanctioned in such a way that boys would more likely be the ones needing reinforcement. That being said, the buttocks of a female as something spared for other reasons might have also played a factor as in Malaysia.


More Google but few paddle hits

October 20 2010, 11:14 PM 

There is a surprising paucity of information on the internet relating to the early use of the paddle in USA schools.

There is plenty of information concerning the paddling of slaves and some information on the use of the paddle by fraternities and in prisons.

Google searches are hampered by the popularity of canoe sports and paddle steamers.

Switches, canes, straps, etc. were in use in US schools before the paddle became popular.

It seems likely that the school paddle was well known by the year 1900 or very soon after.


Paddle for disciplining children
Jorgenson - July 1953. United States Patent 2645488

The handle is designed to break if too much force is applied.

Dewey - August 1971. United States Patent 3597861

The invention relates to an apparatus for correcting children and more particularly to an apparatus which corrects children using psychological symbolism. Most parents use physical force in disciplining their children only as a last resort. It is usually considered preferable to give the child some indication of disapproval of his actions before physical force is used. A great number of parents threaten their children with various forms of punishment, only to find that threats are ineffective in bringing about a change in the child's behavioral patterns. Threats to children often go unheeded either because the child is aware that the threats will not be carried out or alternatively, because the child is uncertain of their meaning. Psychologists and writers often advise against the use of verbal threats since they usually prove to be ineffective and only result in diminished respect for parents. It is an object of the present invention to provide an apparatus which positively indicates messages of approval and disapproval to a child while simultaneously being useful for disciplining the child as an ultimate form of corrective communication.

Female Paddler Ousted [From a reformatory?]
Atlanta Constitution Dec 24, 1899
... matron of the Adrian School for Girls has her resignation and will leave ... and Governor

Pingree demanded of the board that corporal punishment be abolished ....

Bad Place to Carry Matches

Detroit Free Press Nov 14, 1904

A school teacher in Flynn township took an unruly pupil across her knee and paddled him until his pants fairly smoked. This is no joke. The boy had a hip pocket well filled with matches, which ignited under the pressure of the paddle, and a small conflagration was only averted by...


Exercises Were Finally Broken Up by Marshal Banfield.

Detroit Free Press Mar 10, 1895

The recent trouble in regard to the high school fraternities has resulted in a rather close surveillance of the fraternities. It became known this week that the Sigma. Sigma boys were to hold an initiation last night in floral hall on the fair grounds, about a mile east of the city.


PONTIAC, Mich., May 27. -- Last June Miss Jennie Webb, a school teacher, whipped Frank Cook, one of her pupils, with a strap. The boy went home, his legs and body marked with great welts caused by the strap. He was shortly after taken with paralysis and died. The doctors said the whipping caused his death. The Coroner's jury found that Miss Webb was to blame, and the police magistrate held her for trial.

New York Times May 28, 1891


Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

October 22 2010, 8:55 PM 

The US School Paddle

A Product of the "Progressive Era" and Female Influence?

Mentions of the school paddle in written material begin around 1900. There are mentions of the school switch, hickory rod, etc. before that time and also of the slave, prison and fraternity paddle. There are news reports of serious injury or even death. It seems likely the paddle was introduced as a milder and less injurious device to placate those opposed to CP in schools and to protect children from harm. However, so far I have found no documentation to support this supposition. The deliberations and decisions of school boards do not appear to be accessible online at the moment which makes it hard to determine what happened and why. The spread of the school paddle makes it likely there was widespread discussion at the time, probably in the 1890's.

Reference material

A short history of US education

Excerpt: Education in the United States had long been a local affair with schools governed by locally elected school boards. As with much of the culture of the United States, education varied widely in the North and the South. In the New England states public education was common, although it was often class-based with the working class receiving little benefits. Instruction and curriculum were all locally determined and teachers were expected to meet rigorous demands of strict moral behavior. Schools taught religious values and applied Calvinist philosophies of discipline which included corporal punishment and public humiliation. In the South, there was very little organization of a public education system. Public schools were very rare and most education took place in the home with the family acting as instructors. The wealthier planter families were able to bring in tutors for instruction in the classics but many yeoman farming families had little access to education outside of the family unit.

The reform movement in education began in Massachusetts when Horace Mann (1796 1859) started the common school movement. Mann advocated a statewide curriculum and instituted financing of school through local property taxes. Mann also fought protracted battles against the Calvinist influence in discipline, preferring positive reinforcement to physical punishment. Most children learned to read and write and spell from Noah Webster's Blue Backed Speller and later the McGuffey Readers. The readings inculcated moral values as well as literacy. Most states tried to emulate Massachusetts, but New England retained its leadership position for another century. German immigrants brought in kindergartens and gymnasiums, while Yankee orators sponsored the Lyceum movement that provided popular education for hundreds of towns and small cities.


Campaigns against corporal punishment : prisoners, sailors, women, and children in antebellum America (Before 1861)

By Myra C Glenn
Publisher: Albany : State University of New York Press, ©1984.

The antebellum crusade against corporal punishment: origins and leaders --
Reform campaigns against corporal punishment: institutional concerns --
Reform campaigns against corporal punishment: cultural concerns --
Wife beating and the limits of the anti-corporal punishment crusade --
A victim's perspective: nineteenth-century seamen and convict writings on punishment --
A house divided: public debates over corporal punishment, 1843-1852 --
From theory to practice: the decline of corporal punishment in antebellum America.



Excerpt: The Progressive Movement began in the 1890s and lasted through the 1920s; the most active period was 1900 1918.

Dissatisfaction on the part of the growing middle class with politics as usual, and the failure to deal with increasingly important urban and industrial problems, led to the emergence of the Progressive Movement in the 1890s. In every major city and state, and at the national level as well, and in education, medicine, and industry, the progressives called for the modernization and reform of decrepit institutions, the elimination of corruption in politics, and the introduction of efficiency as a criteria for change. Leading politicians from both parties, most notably Theodore Roosevelt, Charles Evans Hughes, and Robert LaFollette on the Republican side, and William Jennings Bryan on the Democratic side, took up the cause of progressive reform. Women became especially involved in demands for woman suffrage, prohibition, and better schools; their most prominent leader was Jane Addams of Chicago (1860 1935). Progressives implemented anti-trust laws and regulated such industries of meat-packing, drugs, and railroads. Four new constitutional amendmentsthe Sixteenth through Nineteenthresulted from progressive activism, bringing the federal income tax, direct election of Senators, prohibition, and woman suffrage.


Corporal punishment in American education : readings in history, practice, and alternatives
Author: Irwin A Hyman; James H Wise
Publisher: Philadelphia : Temple University Press, 1979.

Part I. Introduction --
1. An overview / Irwin A. Hyman and Eileen McDowell --

Part II. Historical perspectives --
2. Social sanctions for violence against children : historical perspectives / Gertrude J. Williams --
3. The Children's Petition of 1669 and its sequel / C.B. Freeman --
4. Discipline in the good old days / John Manning --
5. The abolition of corporal punishment in New Jersey schools / Donald R. Raichle --


American Education A History, 4th Edition
By Jennings L. Wagoner, Jr., Wayne J. Urban

Chapter 5. Class, Caste and education in the South: 1800-1900
Chapter 6. Beginning of a modern school system: 1865-1890
Chapter 7. Organizing the modern school system: Education reform in the progressive era, 1890-1915
Chapter 8. Completing the Modern School System: American Education, 1915-1929.

Corporal punishment receives only passing mention


David Macleod, The Age of the Child: Children in America, 1890-1920 (New York: Macmillan, 1998).

Emphasizes a tug of war between different conceptions of childhood, from the varied experiences of farm children and working-class urban youths to the Progressive reformers' ideal of a sheltered childhood.


Power and the Promise of School Reform: Grassroots Movements during the Progressive Era
William J. Reese

A number of mentions of corporal punishment. Women had a big influence on educational and other reform in the four northern cities investigated: Kansas City MO, Milwaukee WI, Toledo OH and Rochester NY.


A further report on the ongoing research

October 23 2010, 11:12 PM 

Intractable ?

It is clear that the punishment paddle replaced other implements in many American schools sometime before about 1900, probably as a part of a movement towards milder, less injurious / less marking punishments. The issue must have been recorded in newspapers of the time but an online search has so far failed to find any such reports.

Many older newspapers were recorded on microfilm a few decades ago and some of these are now available online, free or for a fee. The printed originals were often not high quality (high speed printing on cheap paper) and were probably handled by the public in reading rooms before they were archived. The microfilming of the damaged or fading and yellowing papers was often done in a hurry - there were millions of pages to be done - so produced poor quality images. The subsequent automatic optical character recognition (OCR) conversion of the images to text is often poor which means keyword searches are unreliable. A further complication is that the word "paddle" has several meanings and appears relatively often in various contexts including paddle steamers, canoe paddles and playing in shallow water.

The New York Times appears to have the best online archives of any of the major USA newspapers. The quality of the photo images is generally good, as is the OCR conversion of the images to text. This allows reasonably reliable searching for keywords. There is free online access to the older archives. A charge is made for accessing the more recent archives. The New York Times is published in an area of the country that abolished corporal punishment in schools before the paddle came into regular use so it contains few items of relating to when, where and why the paddle came to be used in American schools.

The paddle was and is more used in the southern states and its use in homes and schools may have started there and spread north.

Those with access to pre-1900 southern newspaper achives are invited to search for relavent articles and to report back here. Please report searches that failed as well as those that suceeded.


Another early mention of the paddle:

The Morning Leader, December 3, 1904. Page two, column 1. (Published in Port Townsend, Washington State)

Oppose Abandonment of Paddle in Schools

The question of corporal punishment in public schools is presented in an entirely new aspect by recent action of the Brooklyn Teachers' Institute. The Brooklyn Institute has announced that teachers need not be bound by the rule of the Board of Education, which proscribes physical punishment. The declaration of the Institute may be epitomized briefly "Lick 'em if they need it", says the institute to its members, "and we'll standby you. Let the School board theorize; we confront facts and the law is with us."

The teachers' institute strongly opposed the adoption of the anti corporal punishment rule. After the adoption of the rule, the institute called on its legal adviser is based
[?] the assertion that the rule against corporal punishment is a dead letter and the Board of Education can not intervene between the loving instructor and his obstreperous charge.

The institute has instructed its members that Paragraph 4, Section 223 of the penal code says that violence inflicted upon another is not unlawful "when committed by a parent or any guardian, master or teacher, in the exercise of their lawful authority to restrain or correct his child, ward, apprentice or scholar, and the force of the violence used is reasonable in manner and moderate in degree."

The institute further announces upon the authority of its legal adviser the board of education has no right to make rules in subversion of law. Therefore, advises the institute, let the trusty paddle perform its traditional and excellent functions without fear or favor. The institute will undertake the defense of every case where trouble may arise.

What the board of education will now say on the subject, there is much eagerness to know.


Access to newspaper archives

October 24 2010, 4:20 AM 


Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

October 25 2010, 1:23 AM 

A further interim report

Selected, possibly relevant, papers found using: Educational Resources Information Center.

I have not been able to read any of the following so do not know whether they provide any information concerning when and why the paddle was introduced into American schools.

Van Dyke HT (1984)
Corporal punishment in our schools
The Clearing House, 57, 296-300. (A journal of educational strategies, issues, and ideas).

Abstract: Traces the history of corporal punishment in the public schools and discusses its use today.


Middleton, Jacob (2008) (Historian at Birkbeck College in London)
The Experience of Corporal Punishment in Schools, 1890-1940
History of Education, Volume 37, Issue 2, March 2008, pages 253 - 275

Abstract: Corporal punishment was an important part of the educational experience of many children educated during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It has often been assumed that it was an uncontroversial and widely accepted means of maintaining school discipline. This article questions these assumptions, using autobiographical accounts produced by individuals educated between 1890 and 1940. Working from common themes in these accounts, it presents a reconstruction of how corporal punishment was viewed by the child. Whilst educationists of the period encouraged the sparing and impartial exercise of school discipline, the accounts demonstrate how, in practice, the use of corporal punishment was often seen as arbitrary or unjust. Corporal punishment was, as a result, to become a major source of tension between pupils and teachers within the early twentieth-century school.

It is unclear whether there are any examples mentioning the use of the school paddle in earlier times.


Middleton, Jacob (2005)
Thomas Hopley and Mid-Victorian Attitudes to Corporal Punishment
History of Education, v 34, n6, p 599-615, Nov 2005

Abstract: This paper discusses the trial of Thomas Hopley, accused of killing his pupil Reginald Cancellor in 1860 during an act of corporal punishment. The case provoked immediate sensational interest and became an important defining point in how corporal punishment is treated in British law. Established by this trial was the test that any corporal punishment, most particularly that which went on at school, must be "moderate and reasonable", a test so central to discussion of punishment that it is described by modern legal experts as being of continuing relevance. Throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries the Hopley trial was an important precedent in any legal consideration of corporal punishment. (Contains 111 footnotes.)

It is unclear whether this case in England had much influence in the USA. There were similar cases of fatal beatings in the USA.


Ryan, Francis J. (1994)
From Rod to Reason: Historical Perspectives on Corporal Punishment in the Public School, 1642-1994
Educational Horizons, v72 n2 p70-77 Winter 1994

Abstract: A historical overview of disciplinary practices used in U.S. classrooms shows that corporal punishment has been a consistent and conspicuous part of schooling since the beginning. Alternatives aimed at minimizing classroom punishment and disciplining students in a more systematic and psychologically oriented way are now part of teacher preparation programs.


Travers, Paul D. (1980)
An Historic View of School Discipline
Educational Horizons, v 58, n4, p184-87 Summer 1980

Abstract: This article surveys educational environments and philosophies of school discipline from the colonial era through the twentieth century to illustrate that students have always been considered difficult to control.


To Jenny

October 25 2010, 8:27 AM 

I am all for equality, but taking a 7 lick beating isn't worth it.
I know quite a bit about 1959 paddles, having seen many, made one and felt several. There is no feeling of superiority in bending over like a pretzel while someone hits you with a paddle as the girls giggle. The humiliation is as bad as the pain (which is saying something). I envied the girls who were exwmpt.
Incidentally, I have never seen 7 licks. This would be a brutal beating, not a spanking. Deep bruises and cracked skin would almost be certain. When beatings of that severity were given, it was done in private.
I never heard of girl who wanted "a taste of wood."


Re: To Jenny

October 26 2010, 2:51 AM 

Hi bdofed

I am all for equality, but taking a 7 lick beating isn't worth it.
I know quite a bit about 1959 paddles, having seen many, made one and felt several. There is no feeling of superiority in bending over like a pretzel while someone hits you with a paddle as the girls giggle. The humiliation is as bad as the pain (which is saying something). I envied the girls who were exwmpt.

There's a very big difference between reasonable CP, which I experienced, and the abuse which seems to have been prevalent in your school. As girls were exempt, the paddle cannot have been a punishment simply for breaking a rule. At best it was a punishment for breaking a rule whilst being a boy. If it were more severe than other punishments, then the additional severity was a punishment for being a boy. That is clearly abuse. I could have broken every rule in the book yet not have been paddled. The humiliation you suffered was probably made worse by the fact that girls were exempt so could giggle at your predicament with impunity.


Compulsory education and the paddle

October 26 2010, 8:13 AM 

It seems likely the paddle became the preferred impliment in USA schools in the late 19th or very early 20th century.

I have just noticed that the southern states that presently favour the continued use of the paddle did not have compulsory education until after this time.

According to:http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0112617.html

Iowa 1902
Maryland 1902
Missouri 1905
Tennessee 1905
Oklahoma 1907
North Carolina 1907
Delaware 1907
Virginia 1908
Arkansas 1909
Louisiana 1910
Florida 1915
Texas 1915
Alabama 1915
South Carolina 1915
Georgia 1916
Mississippi 1918

It is unlikely that states that did not have compulsory education would have established procedures regulating CP.

School paddling may derive from college graduates and fraternity members rather the from the South.


To Jenny

October 26 2010, 8:17 AM 

Every thing you say is true, but the cause of feminism is not damaged by exempting females from the board.
Consider this case (based on personal experience): You and I both are in the school band. When we get to school one day, we each realize that we have forgotten to bring our instruments. I become agitated; you don't give it a thought. When we get to class, we each admit our instrument is at home. The teacher tells you to pay a 10cent fine, which will be used to fund a class party at year end. His message to me is a little different. "Take your wallet out of your pocket and bend over." By the time you get to your seat, the highest part of my body is my tail, and the teacher is gripping his paddle. He taps my rear lightly, and to relieve the tension makes a little joke. Examples: "this is going to hurt you a lot more than me; remember, this is all in fun, my fun; or "consider this a memory lesson." As the class titters, he begins his backswing. The paddle lands with a sickening thud. In semi-shock, I go to my seat (next to you) and try to sit down. For the next hour you are bored because you can't participate (no instrument). On the other hand, since I am in serious pain for the whole hour, I'm not bored at all.
Now you tell me. Which of us feel superior? Which of us feels privileged? Which of us has higher self esteem?

American Way

Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

October 26 2010, 12:21 PM 

KK I can only speak for the sixties (and my Dad in the twenties for both public and parochial schools) and in my congressional district of 500,000 people involving a rich ethnic and racial mix and an urban and rural one as well in the Northeast; the paddle was rarely spoken of for it was always getting the strap or getting the stick (as in rhyming with arithmetic) in my Catholic school. The belt was a carry over from home but the stick was an instrument of correction more likely to be kept in a school. Corporal punishment was more often on the buttocks than the hand. College fraternities involved a small percentage of college students in larger state colleges and judging by logos, many local teacher colleges were specifically for that training in what was then called Normal Schools.

The lash was more common than the paddle but the paddle, judging by erotic novels, played a part with free men exploiting female slaves. It was less severe and was used upon children among the slaves themselves. Truth is often based in fantasy. It's a reasonable surmise but far from a slam/dunk and based anecdotally and in space and time but why the transfer to paddling and where when is a whole new series of conjecture. Not much help KK but the best I can do.

American Way

Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

October 26 2010, 3:57 PM 

Paddling in erotic fiction is readily available online. Bibliothèque de littérature érotique : histoires, textes, récits et confessions érotiques.

I read this in college from my library. Such were the times and in an all male Catholic college. Reviewed in URL. I did not pay a fine; it was not overdue. wink.gifwink.gifwink.gif

Jean de Villiot, The Memoirs Of Dolly Morton : The Story of A Womans Part in The Struggle to Free The Slaves, An Account of the Whippings, Rapes, and Violences that Preceded the Civil War in America, With Curious Anthropological Observations on the Radical Diversities In the Conformation of the Female Bottom and the Way Different Women endure Chastisement, Ed. Charles Carrington, London, Paris, 1899.



American Way

FYI Slavery and School Paddle

October 26 2010, 4:20 PM 


I think Paula is OTT to make this connection.



More on Dolly Morton

October 26 2010, 4:57 PM 

Another_Lurker would NEVER promote pornography erotic literature on this estimable Forum - unless he felt it absolutely essential of course! happy.gif

However, he recalled reading some of the highly colourful adventures of Dolly Morton (promoted above by his ever industrious fellow contributor American Way) on the web, and he thinks it must have been here.

Sadly you have to read it a chapter at a time, but that isn't really a problem, because if you can manage more than half a dozen or so chapters without having to desist due to an excess of mirth you should perhaps seek professional help! happy.gif

American Way

Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

October 26 2010, 5:48 PM 

Pertinent to paddling. A female slave begged for any instrument of correction other than the paddle. It did have holes according to a previously posted illustration and was safely administered without assuming the brace position with a whipping bench. Advances in corporal punishment are such that a bored administrator administering a paddling on the highest mode is seen tormenting a girl with a transparent lexan paddle with a remote control on a whipping bench. It would provide self-control when a teacher was out of control. One wouldn't have to adjust the size of the paddle but the settings.

I don't think it would pass muster at a public hearing even if teachers volunteered to be on the receiving end. If prof n's friend, Jackie video was shown with teachers being paddled, CP would have more of a chance. I don't think there would be a bevy of volunteers like Congresswoman Bobbi Fielder for either forms of paddling.
As a "quadroon" like me there would be no mercy. This was taken from Dolly Morton introduction.

American Way

Dolly Morton 1899

October 26 2010, 7:40 PM 

What is the paddle? It is a round flat piece of wood fixed to a long handle, and it was always used on the bottom. It does not draw blood, but each stroke raises a blister on the skin and bruises the flesh.


Paddle not universal / the influence of faternities

October 26 2010, 8:40 PM 

American Way

Thanks for your comments.

If I understand correctly, both you and your father attended schools in the North East of the USA. Your schools used a leather strap or a stick (switch? hickory?) rather than a paddle. The paddle was therefore not universal in US schools in the last 100 years.

You further point out that teachers were trained in special teachers colleges and normal schools rather than at college so the influence of fraternities is unlikely. However, some of the high school teacher trainees would have completed a college degree first so may have been exposed to the fraternity paddle. More important may be whether school boards had fraternity members. Educated parents are likely to have been motivated to influence school administrations. If parents raised concerns about injuries inflicted during CP they may have specified only paddles were to be used.

It is well established that some slave owners used the paddle, presumably for a range of reasons. It is also likely that low status women and children were paddled in domestic situations in the slave states. It is unclear how this and related erotic fantasies might have lead to school paddling.

It is also unclear why the issue is so difficult to research.

American Way

Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

October 26 2010, 9:08 PM 

KK. I'm glad I was of some help. The leather strap was used in the adjacent public school and a yardstick or a "stick" in parochial school. Not a hickory stick but like a pool stick or dowel. Teachers went to state teachers college, formerly called, normal schools. They would not have fraternities or sororities in these specialty schools. They went right into teaching and not graduate school.

Paddles were used in all black schools (colored schools) in the south before integration. I can't give you a url on that but I certainly read it online.



Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

October 26 2010, 9:30 PM 


Congratulations on all your diligent research.

Highly educational-had NO idea the paddle came from the slave trade.

Perhaps those opposed to paddling should be emphasising its' disgusting origins a bit more.

No, make that a LOT more.


American Way

Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

October 26 2010, 9:45 PM 

* Tin' paddle has superseded the cowhide in all Jails, workhouses, and places of punishment in South Carolina, as being moro effectivethat is painful. In some instances it la used on the plantations. It consists of a wooden instrument, shaped like a baker's peel, with a blade from three to five Inches wide, and from eight to ten long. There are commonly holes in the blade, which give the application a percussive effect . In Charleston thla punishment is generally administered at the guardhouse by the police, who are all Irishmen. Any offended master or mistress sends a slave to the place of chastisement with a note, stating the deired amount, which is duly honored. Like Institutions breed like results all over the world: in Bala's ' Journey Due North' we find the same system Id operation in Bussia. VOL. DI.8

1863 An Englishman in slave-ridden South Carolina.


1876 in slave free New York.



Re: To Jenny

October 26 2010, 10:56 PM 

Hi bdofed

Every thing you say is true, but the cause of feminism is not damaged by exempting females from the board.

Sorry, I disagree. Sex discrimination prevents equality and every special consideration afforded us comes at a price. I cannot have the same rights as a man unless he has the same rights as I.

Consider this case (based on personal experience): You and I both are in the school band. When we get to school one day, we each realize that we have forgotten to bring our instruments. I become agitated; you don't give it a thought. When we get to class, we each admit our instrument is at home. The teacher tells you to pay a 10cent fine, which will be used to fund a class party at year end. His message to me is a little different. "Take your wallet out of your pocket and bend over."

That was just abuse. The teacher was quite possibly a sadist (in the true sense of the word), and almost definitely a coward. If I were the girl, I definitely wouldn't pay the 10 cent fine and I'd tell him so. I doubt he'd do anything - bullies don't know what to do when challenged.

Now you tell me. Which of us feel superior? Which of us feels privileged? Which of us has higher self esteem?

I think we should feel superior to the abusive low-life in front of us. I wouldn't feel superior to you though. In some ways I'd feel belittled because your abuser doesn't think I'd be able to stand up to his abuse as well as he expect you to be able to.

Should I feel privileged? Of course not. Clearly my participation in the band is considered unimportant. That doesn't do much for my self esteem.


To Jenny

October 27 2010, 11:37 AM 

OK. So you have refused the fine. The reply:"Have it your way. Empty your back pockets and bend over." Is this what you want?
I see it this way:You should pay the fine.It's a fair penalty and ultimately everyone will benefit from the party. What's unfair is the paddling in my immediate future. Having you swatted before me isn't going to make my rump feel better. The best thing you could do, if you were kind and brave enough, would be to ask that I be spared the rod because the penalty is unjust.
There wasn't a girl in my school who would do this for a boy. It wouldn't have worked. It would only delay the paddle landing by a few seconds. But at least I would have known someone cared about what was happening.


A new hypothesis

October 27 2010, 11:52 PM 

Although the school paddle appears in news reports starting about 1900 the paddle may not have become a popular implement in US schools until much later. So, rather than being a product of reforms in the 1880-1920 period as I previously suggested, the paddle's advent may have been the product of later objections to school CP in areas that had not abolished it. I am now looking for news reports of schools adopting the paddle in relatively recent times. Please help.


To Jenny

October 28 2010, 12:50 AM 

Hi bdofed

OK. So you have refused the fine. The reply:"Have it your way. Empty your back pockets and bend over." Is this what you want?

Consider why he didn't paddle girls, like he paddled boys, in the first place. You obviously knew that jerk better than I but do you really think that was a likely reply? It's a very small risk I'd be prepared to take because social inadequates, who can only get their kicks by bullying those who can't, or won't, fight back tend to back off very quickly when challenged.

I see it this way:You should pay the fine.It's a fair penalty and ultimately everyone will benefit from the party. What's unfair is the paddling in my immediate future. Having you swatted before me isn't going to make my rump feel better. The best thing you could do, if you were kind and brave enough, would be to ask that I be spared the rod because the penalty is unjust.

I doubt 10 cents would make much difference but, whether or not, that's all the more reason to fine, rather than paddle, boys too. You're right that I could put that to the teacher but, despite all the evidence to the contrary, you're presuming he's a reasonable person.

There wasn't a girl in my school who would do this for a boy. It wouldn't have worked. It would only delay the paddle landing by a few seconds. But at least I would have known someone cared about what was happening.

From what you've said, the teacher use a technique similar to "grooming" minimize any sympathy the girls might have for the boys. As you say, my asking that you be treated fairly wouldn't have worked but my standing up to him might have.


To Jenny

October 28 2010, 6:42 AM 

As the news article about the Memphis school stated, school policy was not to paddle girls. What I was asking was this: Knowing that I was going to be licked, would you want to take a lick rather than being let off (assuming the teacher had discretion). I can see a good argument why a girl who deserves punishment should be spanked like a boy, but if she didn't deserve it, why should she demand it?
Also, what would be your view on using a lighter paddle on girls or fewer licks. I have no experience of a cane. I am sure it hurts. But a hard paddling is really quite brutal. Watching one usually made me sick in the stomach. I can't imagine seeing a thick blister paddle used on a girl.



October 28 2010, 6:47 AM 

I can tell you that in the 50's the paddle was as ubiquitous as blackboard and chalk. Boys custom made them in shop class for teachers. Each had its own design. For example, the art teacher had hers shaped like a violin with fake strings stenciled on the front.


Re: To Jenny

October 28 2010, 9:07 PM 

Hi bdofed

As the news article about the Memphis school stated, school policy was not to paddle girls.

So they admit it wasn't used to maintain discipline. I could have done just as I pleased with no risk of being paddled.

What I was asking was this: Knowing that I was going to be licked, would you want to take a lick rather than being let off (assuming the teacher had discretion). I can see a good argument why a girl who deserves punishment should be spanked like a boy, but if she didn't deserve it, why should she demand it?

The difficulty here is that we experienced two very different environments and our attitudes are shaped by the way we were brought up. I was treated very fairly at school but you were brought up in an abusive environment. It's quite possible that, had I been in your school, I too would have been psychologically damaged and taken delight in seeing others abused: just as the other girls did.

You ask whether I would rather take a lick than be let off. It all depends on the situation. If I had managed to escape though good fortune or my own efforts, I wouldn't hand myself in just because my friends had been less fortunate. Nor would I expect anyone else to do so when I was caught. I don't think I could accept being let off just because of my sex though, because I've been brought up with a strong sense of fair play.

If a boy and a girl commit the same offence, they deserve the same punishment (all relevant factors being equal). Therefore, if the teacher believes the boy deserves to be punished, the girl deserves the same punishment. There are two main reasons why a girl might demand it: to not do so could be offensive to her sense of justice and, by being let off, she's being told that what she did was unimportant because she's "only a girl".

Also, what would be your view on using a lighter paddle on girls or fewer licks.

Completely ridiculous. Not every girl is weaker than every boy so why should a strapping great champion (female) weightlifter or shot putter be let off more lightly than a frail boy? Is this girl (http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/2009/may/03/female-weightlifter-zoe-smith ) a frail little thing? QUOTE: 'Ivan, a ginger-haired lad of 18, is straining at every visible point to keep his 91kg bar above his head. He lets it clatter to the floor, his face the colour of uncooked salmon. "See what he's lifting?" asks coach Andy Callard. "Zoe can lift 2.5kg more." '

American Way

Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

October 28 2010, 11:40 PM 

This paddle is of more recent vintage and by the looks of the objects on the desks it is used in a classroom of very young students. I agree it wasn't just chivalry that spared girls bottoms but the severity often given more by males than females about forty years ago from anecdotal online accounts.



More, possibly relevant, research papers

October 29 2010, 12:54 AM 

I have not read any of the following as I lack easy access:

Carl F Kaestle. (1978)
Social change, Discipline and the Common School in Early Nineteenth Century America
Journal of Interdisciplinary History 9 (1) 1-17.

No abstract available


Hiner NR. (1979)
Children's rights, corporal punishment, and child abuse: changing American attitudes 1870-1920
Bulletin of the Menninger Clinic 43 (3) 233-248.

No abstract available


Barabara Finkelstein. (2000)
A crucible of Contradictions: Historical Roots of Violence Against Children in the United States
History of Education Quarterly, 40 (1) 1-4.

Examines the religious, political, and socio-economic traditions in the United States that help foster a culture of violence against children. Finds that Judeo-Christian religious beliefs are used to justify corporal punishment; political practice favors family privacy; limited government; and a separation between the public and private spheres.


Davis PW, Chandler JL, Larossa R. (2004)
"I've tried the switch but he laughs through the tears:" the use and conceptualization of corporal punishment during the Machine Age, 1924-1939.
Child Abuse & Neglect. 28 (12) 1291-310.

OBJECTIVE: To examine attitudes, conflicts, images, circumstances, and time-period effects associated with corporal punishment and other forms of adult-to-child violence during the early 20th century in the United States.

METHOD: A sample of 147 letters, referencing corporal punishment and dating from 1924 to 1939, were analyzed using both qualitative and quantitative techniques. The letters were addressed to Angelo Patri (1876-1965), a popular child-rearing expert during the interwar years (also known as the Machine Age), and written primarily by middle class parents with everyday worries about child rearing and proper discipline.

RESULTS: People who sought advice emphasized the practical significance of corporal punishment over and above the idea that it violated children's rights to be protected against harm. One in four letters cited conflicts with significant others about corporal punishment. Generally, children were perceived as frail, defiant, or feral. Rarely, were they seen as devilish or, conversely, innocent. Children's disobedience and disrespect were cited more than other misbehaviors as reasons for corporal punishment. Age and gender of the focal child varied by time period when letters from the 1920s and 1930s were compared.

CONCLUSIONS: A full understanding of parent-to-child violence cannot be achieved without a firm grasp of its genealogy. The growing popularity of child psychology during the Machine Age had a measurable impact on how children were viewed. A utilitarian frame of interpretation was an important part of the everyday "work" associated with child rearing during this time, foreshadowing the tendency today to emphasize efficacy more than rights when evaluating the legitimacy of corporal punishment.


H. Hughes Evans, Crayton A. Fargason Jr. (1998)
Pediatric discourse on corporal punishment: A historical review
Aggression and Violent Behavior. 3 (4) 357-368

Corporal punishment is a commonly used, but controversial disciplinary technique. This article reviews the pediatric professional response to corporal punishment over the past century. We focus predominantly on the discourse written to educate pediatricians, for the most part, textbooks. Using the sociologic construction of deviance proposed by Conrad and Schneider, we show how corporal punishment has moved from a condoned behavior to a socially deviant behavior. Based on our review of this literature, we delineate three distinct pediatric professional attitudes toward corporal punishment over this century:
(a) corporal punishment as morally sanctioned behavior,
(b) corporal punishment as a tool for controlling behavior, and
(c) corporal punishment as abusive.
We show how each of these stances developed and demonstrate how these stances inform paradigms that are still operative today. By reviewing changes in pediatric thought toward corporal punishment, this article provides a useful framework for child health professionals struggling with the appropriateness of corporal punishment as a disciplinary technique.


Slow slow progress

October 30 2010, 9:17 PM 

When and where did the expression "board of education" first come into use?

It seems to have been before 1953. Hartford readers apparently needed the term explained.

'Education Board' Swat, 'Socko' Broadcast Scored
The Hartford Courant (Hartford, Conn.)
May 15, 1953
Page: 1

VALPARAISO, Ind., May (AP)--A "board of education"--a yard long, an inch thick and all wood--is mentioned in a $60,000 lawsuit on file here against two teachers.

American Way

Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

October 30 2010, 11:15 PM 

KK I'm curious about your historical interests. Like Dean from Australia I'm working on a periodical (not a book though) without a pro/con element debate. I can't help you with the board of education term but that could hearken back to social college organizations. Teachers were likely to participate in post secondary high school education where they may have gone to a big college or know someone who did. There are a variet of names given on novelty paddles on the domestic front. Mr Wood was a name given as well as the Terminator in a Memphis Charter school. There is no one who has searched out more links on on official recorded paddlings than yours truly. I don't have time that Corpun doesn't have time for on my hands to do research but facebook anecdotally can give names often named after woman like hurricanes (wrath) until the Carter Administration capitulated to the feminist with alternating names by gender and foolish metallic currency honoring women liberationists and noble savages. Don't get me started. sad.gifsad.gifsad.gifsad.gifsad.gifsad.gifsad.gifsad.gifsad.gifsad.gifsad.gifsad.gifsad.gifsad.gifsad.gifsad.gifsad.gifsad.gifsad.gifsad.gifsad.gifsad.gifsad.gifsad.gifsad.gifsad.gifsad.gifsad.gifsad.gifsad.gifsad.gifsad.gifsad.gifsad.gifsad.gifsad.gifsad.gifsad.gifsad.gifsad.gifsad.gifsad.gifsad.gifsad.gifsad.gifsad.gifsad.gifsad.gif Did I set a record for frowns? Not enough when it comes to that lot.

Personally I'm offended by these names for they reflect a frivolity that is totally inappropriate. Paddling a child should never be something one would compete with another for the honor to administer. I could sense the periodic moods of the nuns by the moon and that time table magnified their reaction. You knew when not to cross them.

If you notice I'm posting a little less. I'm involved with mentoring juniors and seniors in high school with students who spend a half day at work. Perhaps due to the economy they seem more serious and parents are getting to know their kids better with 10% not going to work. I'll be having that teacher from the Texas Christian school down to visit my daughter at Thanksgiving in November. Where she went to college .there were very few students who were paddled because they came from metropolitan areas where the overwhelming majority of students reside. 40,000 incidences in Texas is an under estimate for Christian schools don't turn in their information. The clergy who oppose paddling should be working among their confreres to promote a more nuanced biblical exegesis and ascribe other passage that oppose it. What goes on basically in the Bible Belt is extended to all the states in Christian schools if facebook accounts are not to be dismissed. Not all Christian schools apply in practice but many are not sparing the rod in spite of prohibitions.

American Way

Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

October 31 2010, 2:59 AM 

KK: School corporal punishment in Ohio 1889 with a paddle.



Book on classroom managment

November 13 2010, 7:54 PM 

The Classroom Management 1910 thread contains material of interest.


Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

November 13 2010, 9:04 PM 

Thanks American Way.

The paddling mentioned in the 1889 item was metaphoric rather then literal but it does establish the school paddle was well known in Ohio and Illinois at this time. The context is given below. It seems there was some banter going on between teacher journals in the two states.

The Ohio Educational Monthly and the National Teacher: A Journal of Education
Volume 38, page 326 (1889). Editorial comment


Our readers will remember that some time ago we had occasion to administer a little wholesome discipline to a couple of quarrelsome boys out in Illinois, and some of them may be interested in knowing how these boys took their drubbing. Their names are Brown and Vale. This is the way Brown talks about it:

The venerable editor of the Ohio School Journal (?) gives the Intelligence and the Illinois School Journal a sound spanking in good old-education fashion in his April number. He thought he heard them calling each other names, and, true to his school-master instinct, he rushed for his paddle. He did not seem to know or care what it was all about, or whether or not it was a personal quarrel. Like an old war horse, as he is, he can sniff a battle from afar, and the habit of taking a hand in such affrays was too strong for his school-master nature to resist. He seemed a little in doubt after he had finished, whether he did not deserve to have his own ears boxed for meddling, but that was evidently not a new sensation and he 'let it pass.' But his victims have no disposition to be rude to the old gentleman, and they rather enjoyed his fatherly admonition after the smart was over. His solemnity would be appalling to one who was not a constant reader of his journal.''

We were very hopeful of Brown until we read that last sentence; then we began to fear there would be further need of the paddle. He must have said that before "the smart was over," and perhaps his sense of solemnity is the natural and proper thing under the circumstances. At any rate, we notice that the quarrel stopped instantly. Neither has called the other a bad name since. Vale, especially, has behaved well for him. After hearing what Brown said about "solemnity," he only said it over after him in a way to indicate that the smart is not yet entirely over, in his case. On the whole, we are highly gratified with the result of our efforts in behalf of these boys.


American Way

Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

November 29 2010, 8:36 PM 

Big Four School, Oklahoma graduated its first high school class in 1924. A girl name Pam was on the receiving end. According to the OCR records the girls were paddled more equitably with boys than other states. From the 2006/2007 record the state ranked fourth in the number of students paddled. 2008/2009 figures may be published in 2011. Note the shape of the paddle.




The shingle - An alternative etymology?

December 17 2010, 8:55 PM 

I have speculated that wooden shingles used for cladding buildings or in the kitchen as a plate or chopping board might have been employed as a punishment paddle. However, note the following:


Etymology 2
From French dialect chingler (to strap, whip), from Latin cingula (girt, belt) from cingere (to girt)

Verb: to shingle (third-person singular simple present shingles, present participle shingling, simple past and past participle shingled)

1.( transitive, manufacturing) To hammer and squeeze material in order to expel cinder and impurities from it, as in metallurgy.
2. To lash with a shingle.
The imp's bottom was shingled black and blue

Noun: shingle (plural shingles)

1. A punitive strap such as a belt, as used for severe spanking
2. (by extension) Any paddle used for corporal punishment

This seems an unlikely alternative for the USA.

A related thread: Classroom Management 1910

American Way

Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

January 18 2011, 3:58 PM 

Early use of the paddle. This had a Kansas postmark of 1907. The early part of the 20th century had no lack of posed jocular spankings in or out of the school context. It's a long link so I abbreviated it. I think spanking rather than free bending over position prevailed, possibly because schooling ended young. Corbis has a few and one I really enjoyed of a woman spanking a man with a baseball bat. What could be more American and equal rights than that?


American Way

Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

January 19 2011, 7:52 PM 

The instruments of correction varied from what can be gathered by this news story when I was a student. I think the switch would involve a rural woodshed type experience endured by my latest inductee while a cane and paddle were also considered fair game as well as strap and ruler/yard stick on both sides. I think the Irish nuns brought the cane (pointers) idea here while the paddle emigrated from the south and the switch from the frontier. For the nuns had the ruler for the hand and the yardstick for the bottom and a thrown eraser. I mentioned the latter and was boo hoo hoo by one of the posters here. I have thick skin and thicker since I've posted here. That was the one thing that upset people the most for its danger potential. The ultimate no/no is to teach a kid not to throw sticks and stones and erasers are somewhere in between.



A paddle must be used for "paddling"

January 24 2011, 9:50 AM 

The headline for the following news item suggests that by 1950 the paddle was so well established that paddling had become synonymous with smacking / spanking, terms which themselves are often used as euphemisms for something generally rather more harsh than being struck with the open hand.

The Bend Bulletin, Bend, Oregon
Wednesday May 10, 1950

Broad Paddle, Not Hickory, Recommended for Paddling

Lorain, O. (UP) School children here will be taught their "reading and writing and 'rithmetic" to the tune of a broad paddle instead of the traditional hickory stick.

That's the decision of a 100-page manual of regulations adopted by the Lorain school board.

The new rules state that when ail other corrective measures fail, corporal punishment may be administered by a broad paddle approved by the superintendent and the board of education.

The day when teachers fashioned their own custom-made weapons of discipline is a thing of the past. Each paddle used must be approved by the school board.

Place Prescribed

Student pranksters no longer need wonder where to anticipate one of teacher's wild swings. The manual says punishment shall be administered by "striking the pupil across the buttocks with a broad paddle and in no other manner."

A teacher with faulty aim may be suspend the school board.

To insure that the right technique is used, the rules require that two other members of the school witness the paddling.



Astract for paper mentioned above

January 24 2011, 6:17 PM 

Carl F Kaestle. (1978)
Social change, Discipline and the Common School in Early Nineteenth Century America
Journal of Interdisciplinary History 9 (1) 1-17.

Historians interested in childhood and education are well aware of the sharp rise in educators' attention to discipline and character formation in the nineteenth century, especially in the decades of school reform after 1840. This article relates the urgent concern for school discipline to other developments in early industrial America. It comments upon two explanations offered recently and proposes a broader explanation which at once supports and revises the functionalist framework as it is applied to the history of education.


Paddle abolished in a PA school in 1904

January 28 2011, 4:20 AM 

Greensburg Daily Tribune, October 31, 1904

Unruly Youngsters Punished in That Mode at McKeesport [PA, USA]

The committee on discipline and morals of the board of school directors of McKeesport Wednesday night adopted a resolution to abolish the use of the "paddle." The paddle is about three feet long and is used in place of a rattan to punish unruly pupils. Richard Farmer, father of John Farmer, a pupil, charged Prof. Foster with cruelly beating his son. The board heard the testimony and reserved its decision until next Monday night.

American Way

Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

January 28 2011, 11:49 AM 

KK The fact that it had to explain what a paddle vs. rattan cane bodes well that it is one of the earlier reference. That is also the start approximate the earliest mentions of paddles related to hazing on the college level. School teachers became better educated as the 20th century unfolded.

American Way

Frontier School Corporal Punishment

January 30 2011, 2:12 AM 

It's interesting that pictures of younger pupils often show youngsters receiving corporal punishment in an over the knee or non-free standing position (pushed down) from school corporal punishment. This jocular article neatly delineates twig, slipper and shingle. The country school would seem to make less a distinction schoolMARM between scholastic and domestic corporal punishment with all the formalities. Women couldn't be married and teach so devoted themselves as surrogate mothers as opposed to schoolMASTER who were more authoritarian. Formal education with teachers graduating from "Normal School" happened down the road some.

[linked image]?w=500&h=1298


Reform school paddle, circa 1912

March 23 2011, 4:29 AM 


Excerpt from Minnesota State School regulations:

"No other instrument shall be used for administering corporal punishment than a leather paddle which shall be not less than three and one-half inches (3-l/2) wide, not more than sixteen (16) inches long and not more than one-twelfth (1-12) of an inch thick. All edges and corners shall be carefully rounded to guard against injury."


Should not be forgotten

March 31 2011, 5:40 AM 


School paddle apparently well established in Pittsburgh PA in 1928

April 19 2011, 3:08 AM 

The Pittsburgh Press, Sunday April 29, 1928



Corporal Punishment Out of Style, Says Superintendent Davidson - Customs in School Reflect Home Life.


Spare the rod and spoil the child no longer holds good in local schools, according to William M. Davidson, superintendent of the public schools here. Corporal punishment went out of style when such punishment went out of the homes, he says.

Teachers still reserve the right to exert authority in the form of physical punishment of habitually disobedient children but they resort to that form of punishment only in rare instance, according to Davidson.

And even when a lickin' is deemed necessary, the old-fashioned method of "paddling" with the hand or a board is not used Davidson recommends that local teachers use a switch only, and "if it must be done, do it in a dims led manner. The child should not be punished while the teacher is in a heat of anger or to 'get even.'

"The ways of the school are a reflection of home life in a community. Just a few years ago the father of the family ruled over it with austerity and severity."

In the old days, according to Davidson the son obeyed his father and cut the wood because his old man had told him to and if he didn't do it would give him a "tanning."

But nowadays, it's different. Davidson says. The parents have reached an "educational age." The parents now rule in a different way.
They tell their children why they should do certain things and explain to them the reasons for certain necessities. "Austerity and severity" has been replaced by instruction through love and understanding. It has been explained to children why they should be guided by, wisdom gained from experience and training.

In rare instances the parent, even today, feels that he must spank, paddle, switch, lick, tan or otherwise manhandle the child just to let him know who's who. Corporal punishment is used only in the hope of making the child realize that the world will not tolerate a person who won't do what is right, that such a person is subject to authority so that he can not impose on the rights and privileges of others, according to Davidson's explanation.

The right is conceded the teacher to have charge of the students during her classes the same as if she was mother to them.

Custom is the regulator of practically all systems found in the schools. Davidson says. The teachers follow the customs of the homes, explaining to the child why he should or should not do certain things. The child, because he has been taught that he must have an education to be the mental equal of his associates, submits to the teacher's instruction.

The co-operation of the child with the teacher is what makes the paddles unnecessary in modern schools. Superintendent Davidson says he believes the day will come when corporal punishment will be almost totally obsolete, with the rare instances more rare, and other instances non-existent.

American Way

Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

April 19 2011, 5:25 AM 

1913 Texas laws.


The evidence of the State showed substantially that the defendant whipped her pupil for a disobedience of the rules of the school, with a paddle about two feet long and about two inches wide of white pine wood, with which she administered a number of licks on the back part of the legs above the knees of the pupil; the pupil testifying that it hurt him and that he could not go back to school for several weeks, as he could not well sit down on account of the whipping and that his limbs were sore and paining him. Physicians examined the pupil and testified that they found some bruises and black spots on his limbs which were considerably red and swollen, but that there was no abrasion of the skin on either leg and that the patient was walking around all the time; that the circulation of the patient was not good and that a stroke on the person of one whose circulation is poor is likely to leave a sign, whereas, if the circulation were good, it would leave no sign. It was also shown that the defendant had never manifested any ill-will toward this pupil, etc. This, although the testimony is very voluminous, constitutes the salient facts in the case.

End of 19th century. N.B. The paddle is looked upon as a problem, at least upon the fairer gender. Other instruments of correction are used on the back and shoulders of the girls. The paddle may very well have a less dignified target. Paddles are often used in reform institutions but this is in a school for girls.


American Way

Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

April 19 2011, 5:52 AM 

Follow up on 19th century girls being paddled. Wow. Those Michigan girls took a beating back then. I don't think the dainty ones of today could take it. wink.gifwink.gifwink.gif


Describe that paddle, what kind of an instrument was it? As near as I can remember about eighteen inches long, about four and a half or five inches wide at the widest part and from a half to three-fourths in thickness.


The school paddle apparently well known in 1908

April 20 2011, 5:56 AM 


The Arizona Journal-Miner, 3 March 1908, page 2.

Editorial Comment


Parents and school principals never will agree on the question of corporal punishment. Bad children are, usually, the product of defective home training. In ninety-nine cases in a hundred, the bad boy at school is a bad boy at home. And the parent who spares the rod himself will not look kindly upon its use by the exasperated teacher. Even the parent who uses the paddle himself - not always wisely, but, perhaps, too well - is inclined to regard the child as his own property, and feels that his property rights are infringed upon when another person trounces his unregenerate offspring.

But what are the schools to do with the incorrigibles? The New York board of education will hold a special meeting, March 4, to answer the question "To spank or not to spank?" and, if so, when, and how? A set of questions bearing on the subject was recently submitted to four hundred and seventy superintendents and principals of New York City. With these expressions of opinion in hand, a special committee has made a report, which, in part, reads as follows:
'This committee is of the opinion that corporal punishment should be permit in schools in extreme cases only, under strict regulations, and that it should be administered by the principal with the written consent of the parents or else by a parent in the presence of the principal. Where parents refuse to punish a child themselves in the presence of the principal we believe that the principal should at once report such child to the city superintendent for suspension, and when suspended the child should be sent to a truant school or a school for incorrigibles. This committee believes that the knowledge on the part of the pupils that there is punishment provided for persistent disorderly conduct will to a great degree prevent the necessity for its use. This committee also recommends that the board of superintendents be requested to recommend at once to the board of education a revision of the course of study in ethics so as to place more emphasis on the respect due from children to parents, teachers and others of authority.

But there remains the proper method of applying the paddle - or should it be a stout switch? In Portland, Ore., the prosecution of a school principal, by the parent of a boy he had punished, moves the Oregonian [newspaper] to say:

If boys must be flogged, the paddle seems to be an almost divinely appointed implement to do it with. That area of the body which it most aptly fits is not very susceptible to mortal wounds; it has merely a sufficiency of nerves to unlock penitential tears by their tingling when temperately flagellated; and the bones which it contains are so abundantly swathed about with muscular tissue that there is no danger of breaking them. It is fashionable in these degenerate days to deny the hand of Providence in arranging the affairs of the world; but if there is one piece of evidence more convincing that another that the Almighty actually did fit this and that together and adapt one thing to another in our mundane sphere, it is the perfect adaption of this portion of a boy's body to receive impulsive stimulation from a paddle.

Perhaps our acute contemporary was brought up that way, and speaks with knowledge of the regenerating influence of the paddle, when applied to the portion of the anatomy so well described. But empirical knowledge often is misleading. The ways of our fathers were not always the best ways. Although it is swathed so comfortably and providentially "with muscular tissue" the particular area of the body to which reference is thus delicately made is not a safe place to apply even the household slipper, not to mention the ruder implement, yclept [called] the "paddle". Nature - or Providence - put the protecting tissues in this particular place for the very reason that its contiguity to the base of the spine requires it for protection from injury. Paddle, if you must, pedagogue, but don't paddle there. - Los Angeles News.


An 1897 mention of the school paddle

April 20 2011, 6:36 AM 


Warsaw Daily Times, Indiana, December 18. 1897, page 1


And Now the Troublesome "Kids" Are Paddled According to Statute.


Muncie, Ind., Dec. 18. - The old law concerning corporal punishment in the public schools, enacted by the state legislature years ago, which has been considered a dead-letter for several decades, has been revived by the local school board and is now in vogue in the city schools. A pupil had been laid across a seat and rather severely punished, but the evidence before the justice of the peace who tried the case showed that he was disobedient and deserved unusually strong treatment. The teacher was acquitted of the charge of assault and battery, which had been preferred against him by the boy's mother. However, there was such strong feeling against severe punishment that the school board ordered the rigid enforcement of the old law, long forgotten. The teachers, many of them, did not know of the existence of the law and had to look it up under the direction of attorneys.

Provisions of the Old Law

It provides that incorrigible pupils may be punished if their parents consent, but if the latter decline to permit their children to be treated thus, then the pupils must be expelled from school. In punishing the victim must not be placed across a seat or chair, but must be placed across one's lap. The paddle to be used must be of "light" material as to weight, one and one-half inches wide and one-eighth of an inch thick. It may be applied vigorously, but not laid on too severely. In most cases the parents or guardians consent to the punishment but are careful that the rules concerning its appliance are strictly observed. A few, however, have taken their children out of school rather than have them paddled.


An 1898 advert that mentions the school paddle

April 20 2011, 7:35 AM 

The Washington Reporter, August 29, 1898, page 8


Getting the Boy Ready for School?

Well make it fit, if we have to make it to order.

We've been thinking about that boy for six or eight weeks - been getting ready for to supply his wants - now we're ready. That special boys' department of ours is growing in popularity, and every day you can see processions of humanity and huwomanty going up to the children's room, The expenses of the warfare between the boy and his clothes are minimized when supplies of best wearables cost our little prices. We can take that homely little kid - the one down on the other street from where you live - and put him in a good looking, wearable suit for the little price of 89c, and make him look so much better you'll hardly recognize him. For $1.50 we suit your boy with a school suit so nice that you'll feel like keeping it for best and let him wear his Sunday suit for every day. Double knees, so he can play marbles - double elbows so lie can scour the top of his desk, and a pad on the seat so that

       "When paddler with paddle paddles the pad,
        It's with satisfaction - to paddler and lad."

But maybe you think he had better wear out his Sunday suit before he outgrows it etc., etc.



An 1887 mention of the school paddle

April 24 2011, 8:54 AM 


The Herald, Carroll, Iowa, January 11, 1887

Brutal Treatment

They must have a brutal teacher in one of the schools at Council Bluffs, and a Board of Education, which, if not in favor of the brutal treatment, is at least willing to tolerate it in school government. Not long ago, according to a Register correspondent, a child, a frail boy of 11 years, was whipped for his failure to commit to memory a small composition. The Instrument used was a hickory club or "paddle", three feet long, one-half inch thick and one and one-half inches wide, and the punishment was administered by bending the boy over a desk. The bruises on the tender flesh of the little child from the blows of the heavy club were of a severe nature, and a few hours afterwards were as large as goose eggs. Physicians testified to having examined the child at periods ranging from three to nine days after the injuries were inflicted and found the parts swollen and inflamed, and after a period of nineteen days the discolorations were still visible. The school board sustained the teacher in the use of the club. The case is considered to be one of such serious nature, that it will most certainly reach Superintendent Sabin in the course of events.

It is a debatable question, whether or not corporal punishment should be abolished in school government. Experienced and successful teachers are divided on this point and repeated efforts to do away with the rod have been defeated by the Legislature. The sense of the majority seems to be, that properly used, the rod is not a baneful [= harmful] auxiliary to the proper control of our public schools. The sentiment, however, which sustains such brutal and inhuman treatment as that alleged to have been administered by the Council Bluffs teacher is fully a century behind the times. It is such instances as this, in which the right to use the rod on the children of others is grossly and brutally abused, that makes a public demand to brand corporal punishment with the seal of legislative disapproval.


The paddle apparently well established in 1905

May 15 2011, 9:03 AM 

Management and methods for rural and village teachers

Thomas E. Sanders - 1905 - 304 pages

Nashville, Tenn., The C.J. Bell Company

Excerpt, Chapter XV. School Punishment, page 94-

Let your effort be to discipline with the least possible punishment, but when occasion demands and nothing else will do, punish, even to severity. Avoid indignities, such as slapping or boxing the ears, pulling the nose or the hair, or striking the head. If corporal punishment must be inflicted, use a switch, a strap, or a small paddle. Administer it slowly, calmly, quietly, but effectively. When the punishment is over, do not dismiss the pupil until you have talked over quietly and dispassionately the offense and the reason for the punishment. Most punishments fail because they are done hastily and in anger, and then pupils are dismissed while yet white with rage. If the judge sentenced the criminal with the same degree of warmth and passion, and the sheriff executed the sentence with the haste and anger many teachers show in administering punishment, our courts would be less effective than they are.



The paddle known in schools in 1914

May 15 2011, 10:14 PM 

The discipline of the school

Frances Milton Irene Morehouse - 1914
(Supervisor of High School Teaching, Illinois State Normal University)


Excerpt from Chapter II, The Modes of School Government, page 14

That the teacher stands in the place of the parent has been one maxim universally accepted; and the nature and workings of the teacher's authority have shown an interesting tendency to imitate the methods of control in vogue in the home. The era of stern discipline and severe corporal punishment in both was coeval [occurred at the same time]; and when parental severity was relaxed in favor of more gentle means, the school was forced to fall into line, and somewhat reluctantly to concede its right to paddle and whip.

Excerpt from Chapter XI Punishment (continued), page 197

Corporal Punishment

Corporal punishment is generally regarded as a last resort among means of correction. It may save the day when all else fails, and so must not be read out of the list of possibilities; but it is dangerous, antiquated, and uncertain in effect. It is, as its opponents claim, a primitive means of control, unsuited to modern ideals of government and to highly developed and sensitive children. Many pupils in the public schools, however, are primitive creatures from primitive homes, and are sensitive only to the stimulus of bodily pain, or the humiliation that attends its infliction.

Excerpts from page 199-

Where corporal punishment has been altogether done away with, it is usually the case that sentiment against it has been crystallized by some unjust or brutal case. To guard against this, especially in cities where the political situation imposes on the schools careless, ill-trained, time-serving teachers, there should be regulations which prevent hasty action, and which make it necessary to have witnesses to such punishment. Every safeguard against its abuse should be adopted - but corporal punishment should not be taken from the list of possible means of control. Reasonably administered, it is among the lighter punishments. With all due regard to the much-vaunted "sacredness of the person," one has no patience with the mawkish sentimentality which regards a paddling as an unpardonable affront to the dignity of childhood.


There are some kinds of corporal punishment which may permanently injure children, and which should therefore be forbidden strictly. These include the severe canings once in vogue, boxes on the ear, flinging children across desks and tables, striking upon the head, violent shakings, hand slapping with a metal-edged ruler, and whipping with the little, clinging switches which raise hard welts and occasionally cause or aggravate skin diseases.

Paddling, slapping the cheek* or the hands, whipping (preferably with a wide-bore rubber tube), and striking the hands with a light ruler, are some of the means used with refractory children, which do not injure but do smart. The humiliation of being struck is, for most American children, far deeper than the physical pain is severe. This is especially true when punishment is given before other children - a procedure which some educators heartily condemn, while others contend that, since the offense is an offense against the school, that the culprit should be disgraced before his fellows, and the lesson impressed upon them. Be this as it may be, the nervous tension in a room in which a pupil is being punished is often so great that it punishes the innocent almost as much as the guilty. Most people have at some time experienced the breathless, impressive, "scared" quiet of such an occasion. It has sometimes a salutary effect upon the school; sometimes quite the opposite, after the immediate results are passed. Here is where some knowledge of psychology and sociology will stand the teacher well in hand; for it is the home training of the pupils, their degree of advancement in manners and motives, that must largely decide the method used to control them. There is no such thing as a secretly-administered corporal punishment; no matter how carefully guarded, the impressive details of such occasions are always public property soon after the event.

* There is danger that in aiming at the cheek the ear may be struck, consequently this mode is not recommended, and in many schools is strictly forbidden.



Leather paddle used in Minnesota state reform school

May 15 2011, 10:42 PM 

The Child; a monthly journal of child welfare, Volume 1
Editor David R. Blyth
Publisher Children's Charities, Inc., 1912

Shall Sense or Sentiment Prevail in the Treatment of Our Juvenile Offenders?

By Paul Wiebe.


The following is an abstract from the rules established by the Board of Control of the State of Minnesota only recently for the State School of that State, as regards corporal punishment and confinement, both of which are allowed in that school:


(11) "No other instrument shall be used for administering corporal punishment than a leather paddle which shall be not less than three and one-half inches (3-1/2) wide, not more than sixteen (16) inches long and not more than one-twelfth (1-12) of an inch thick. All edges and corners shall be carefully rounded to guard against injury.



Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

May 15 2011, 11:16 PM 

...leather paddle which shall be not less than three and one-half inches (3-1/2) wide, not more than sixteen (16) inches long and not more than one-twelfth (1-12) of an inch thick.

That seems amazingly lightweight leather. At that width, it must have had substantial air resistance as it was swung and seems unlikely to have landed straight or with any impact.


Light leather

May 15 2011, 11:39 PM 

I strongly suspect there was a handle attached to the leather blade, or one end of the strap was thickened or stiffened in some way. The notorious paddle used at Elmira Reformary (NY) did not sound too bad from the measurements of its blade but it did have a handle attached.


Fulsome editorial support for the use of the paddle in schools

May 16 2011, 9:46 PM 

News item
The Oregonian February 14, 1908
A E Matthews has principal Hughson arrested, charging brutality

Editorial comment
The Oregonian February 15, 1908 page 8
Schoolboy Punishment

The first paragraph suggests that parents who complain about their kids being punished at school may not be good parents, or may have suspect motives.

The second paragraph praises the paddle as follows:

If boys must be flogged, the paddle seems to be an almost divinely appointed implement to do it with. That area of the body which it most aptly fits is not very susceptible to mortal wounds: it has merely a sufficiency of nerves to unlock penitential tears by their tingling when temperately flagellated; and the bones which it contains are so abundantly swathed about with muscular tissue there is no danger of breaking them. It is fashionable in these degenerate days to deny the hand of Providence in arranging the affairs of the world: but if there is one piece of evidence more convincing than another that the Almighty actually did fit this and that together and adapt one thing to another in our mundane sphere, it is the perfect adaption of this portion of a boy's body to receive impulsive stimulation from a paddle.

The third paragraph asks if boys must boys be flogged, and goes on to say, in part:

What is the ultimate effect of paddling upon the boy himself and upon the teacher, upon paddler and paddlee, to borrow a legal terminology? In the opinion of The Oregonian the paddle is distinctly and unequivocally a means of grace. It edifies not only the physical and intellectual parts of a boy, but also his soul. Many unruly youth apparently foredoomed to perdition and predestinated to wrath, has been plucked like a brand from the burning by a regenerative paddling. [...] Marvelous are the virtues of the paddle; salutary is the smart thereof, and the parent who rails against it is not wise. [...]

The last paragraph suggests, Teachers as a rule have no disposition to injure children and goes on to defend the principal.


The paddle at home

May 18 2011, 9:15 PM 

Found by American Way

Dubuque Telegraph-Herald (Iowa), Saturday 13 August 1910
Prose Poem by Uncle Walt
[Walt Mason (1862 - 1939) a newspaper writer and humorist who spent his childhood in Ontario and moved to the USA as a young man. His father died when he was 4 years old.]

Fond Memories

My life's growing white with the snows of December, and soon it must yield to the force of the blast;
and like an old dotard I dream, and remember the things that occurred in the far away past.

How well I can picture the house I was born in, the kitchen, the stairway, the dark narrow hall;
the old clock that rang an alarm in the mornin', the cheap wooden paddle that hung on the wall;
that plain wooden paddle, that long-handled paddle, that trusty old paddle that hung on the wall!

Then I was a wayward young lad and mischievous, and given to tricks that were foolish and vain;
and father would say to me: "Why do you grieve us, and fill our fond hearts with a cream-colored pain?

The life you are leading long since has disgraced you, and filled all our bosoms with wormwood and gall;
I see very plainly I'll have to lambaste you-" Then down came the paddle that hung on the wall;
that cheap willow paddle, that unvarnished paddle, that three-cornered paddle that hung on the wall.

Then all of our helpful and well-meaning neighbors, whose lives were too barren of pleasure and glee,
would pause for a time from their pastimes and labors, to hear that old paddle connecting with me.

And O how they chortled and giggled and tittered, when hearing me let out an agonized bawl!
'Twas little they reckoned that my life was embittered by that wooden paddle that hung on the wall;
that dingbusted paddle, that dodgasted paddle, that jim-twisted paddle that hung on the wall.


American Way

How to access more papers?

May 18 2011, 9:57 PM 

Hi KK: I loved this posting. Could you please tell me how you accessed? How do you obtain search capabilities other than the papers are frequently quote from here? Maybe you can walk me through the process? Much obliged.

American Way.



Capturing Google News as text for posting to this forum

May 18 2011, 11:19 PM 

American Way,

The procedure I use to capture Google News and similar on-screen images of text, as text, is as follows.

1. I open the news item and adjust, if possible, the size of the image on my computer screen so that the letters are about 15 pixels or so, high. (Optical character recognition software may have different optimal pixel size.)

2. I use the Windows 7 Snipping Tool (an improved version of "Print Screen") to capture JPG images of blocks of relevant text. These blocks are saved as files: Capture1.jpg, Capture2.jpg, etc., numbered in the correct order.

3. I may attempt to improve the contrast and clarity of the images using photo editing software but suspect this does not improve subsequent OCR. Clear, well formed text converts easily. Poorly-formed, blurred or smeared letters do not.

4. I open the saved image files with OCR software and manually interpret any unrecognized words as the software runs. I save the results as a text file to remove any formatting.

5. I open the text file with word processing software and compare the text with the original, and correct any remaining errors. I format the text so it is suitable for display on network54 using angle bracketed codes as required.

6. I Google names, places and unfamiliar words as required, and add details to my posting if this seems likely to be useful.

7. I then cut and paste the resulting text, as in the poem above.

PDF files may be image only, or image plus text with the text able to be copied or not.

American Way

Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

May 18 2011, 11:33 PM 

KK: Thanks. I have an Apple friend that will help me there. Sorry I didn't make myself clearer. What else is new? I was more interested in your large data base of newspapers and how you access them? American Way


Search tools

May 19 2011, 12:20 AM 

As well as Google web, Google books, Google news , Google scholar , Google Trends searches the following have been useful:


"The Internet Archive, a 501(c)(3) non-profit, is building a digital library of Internet sites and other cultural artifacts in digital form. Like a paper library, we provide free access to researchers, historians, scholars, and the general public."


"HathiTrust is a partnership of major research institutions and libraries working to ensure that the cultural record is preserved and accessible long into the future. There are more than fifty partners in HathiTrust, and membership is open to institutions worldwide."


"PubMed comprises more than 20 million citations for biomedical literature from MEDLINE, life science journals, and online books. Citations may include links to full-text content from PubMed Central and publisher web sites."


"Papers Past contains more than one million pages of digitised New Zealand newspapers and periodicals. The collection covers the years 1839 to 1945 and includes 63 publications from all regions of New Zealand." Includes a few reports on items in in foreign newspapers.


New York Times Archives. "Articles published before January 1, 1923 or after December 31, 1986 are free, but they count toward your monthly limit." Other newspapers have archives but usually charge for access.

On-line public and university library catalogues

Google searches for documents cited in various books and publications.

Sometimes, where it is possible to buy access to or a printed copy of an old book, the books is available free on-line from one of the above sources.

Sometimes, it is possible to expand a snippet view by searching for less common words at the top and bottom of the snippet. The new word then appears at the centre of a new snippet.


RE: How to access more papers?

May 19 2011, 12:32 AM 

American Way, I read your message without noticing the message title. The title made your intent clear.

Following up cited items has proved useful. This is how I found the Oregonian article. It was cited in a recently published book and also in the newspaper article you hyperlinked above. Newspapers often seem to lift bits from other papers with minimal acknowledgement.


Info sources - addendum

May 19 2011, 12:49 AM 

See also the October 24, 2010 posting above with the above hyperlink correction:

The Making of America library


The school paddle used in California in 1931

May 20 2011, 2:11 AM 

In 1931, school principal Mrs Annie (or Anne?) L Curtiss appealed unsuccessfully against conviction and a decision not to grant her a new trial after being convicted in Glendale (CA) police court. This precedent-setting court case confirmed that teachers could legally use CP but that any punishment must be justified and of appropriate severity.

The case is recorded here:

People v. Curtiss (1931) Vol. 116 California Appellate [Court] Reports Supplement 771, 775 [§273a].

Also: The Pacific Reporter, vol 330 page 802

In February 1931, the Cortese family, new to the community of Glendale [near Los Angeles], ...

That magistrate saw paddle used by teacher and copy of doctor's report before ... Annie L. Curtiss was convicted of an offense, and from the judgment and an ....


That case was reported in the California Teachers Association Journal as follows:


CTA journal: Volume 27, page 45
California Teachers Association - 1931

Sierra Educational News


[...] teacher [principal Annie L Curtiss] who was charged with a violation of [the California] Penal Code section 273a by reason of having "wilfully, wrongly and unlawfully" inflicted unjustifiable physical pain and suffering on a boy pupil of seven years of age. The section itself provides that any one who "wilfully ... inflicts thereon (on any child) unjustifiable physical pain or mental suffering ... is guilty of a misdemeanor".

From the facts of the case it appears that the pupil
[Louis H Cortese] had gotton into a fight with another pupil [Harry Waldron] and the defendant, the teacher, punished him corporally. The punishment consisted of laying the child on his stomach on a table and spanking him with a wooden paddle [club?] about 19 inches long, three inches wide and half inch thick. The boy's brother who was witness to the whipping, stated that the defendant gave the boy thirty or more strokes with the paddle. The defendant who whipped the boy in the presence of two other teachers asserted that she hit the boy only five or seven times. The night following the whipping the testimony showed [...]

[...] the boy to have welts and bruises on his body although other testimony showed that the welts and discolorations might have been caused by other happenings.

The court, after giving weight and consideration to all the testimony, held that while a teacher (who stands in loco parentis) may inflict reasonable (or moderate) corporal punishment upon a child, the burden of proof is on the teacher to show that the punishment inflicted was reasonable and that in the instant case the teacher had not shown that the punishment inflicted was just, reasonable and merited.


No mention of paddle in this publication

May 21 2011, 5:51 AM 


(New York)
Vol XXXV FEBRUARY, 1889. page 572


Children's Punishments. - Something can be said in favor of most of the forms of correction - the rod, strap, tasks, confinement, restriction to plain food, and many others - which have been more or less employed in the school and the family. But there is one which on no account should be employed. Boxing or pulling the ears, or, indeed, striking any part of the head, is most injudicious. Not every form of corporal punishment is so objectionable, but in applying it judgment should be employed. Thus, if a chastisement suitable for a robust child is given to a nervous or feeble one, it will be doubly felt, and will be out of proportion to the offense. Moral means of correction may be the most suitable for sensitive children, and, in the case of school tasks, may possess a certain educational value. There is, however, an important objection to such as imply confinement indoors, especially in cases where the culprit is some poorly nourished youngster to whom fresh air is a luxury, or in any case where the punishment is frequently repeated.


Paddle NOT used for school CP

May 21 2011, 11:31 PM 

I have found few early (before 1900) discussions of the merits or otherwise of the paddle for school discipline. Either no such discussions have been documented or these documents have not yet made it onto the internet. The coverage of US newspapers is uneven and many are behind pay walls that make research too expensive. Digitization of government documents is continuing but seems slow in the USA. (Or, perhaps, I am incompetent.)

I have switched attention to mentions of implements other than paddles. If specific implements but not the paddle are mentioned this implies the paddle was not used.

Source: http://books.google.co.nz/books?id=cY8ZAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA639

Documents of the ... Legislature of the State of New Jersey

School reports, 1870

William Nelson, Superintendent.

Excerpt from page 639

The average attendance in our public schools is now nearly 4,000. The city census taken by the assessors in June, show a total of 7,955 persons, between five and eighteen years of age. (Why not have this census taken by the assessors throughout the State, in June, and have the limits of ages 5 and 16?) There are about 800 attending private and sectarian schools, partly because there really is not room for them in the public schools. Most of the other 3,200 children and youth are at work. In the silk mills there must be 2,000 girls, some as young as eight years, while in the cotton and other mills there are many hundred boys and girls employed. About 300 of these attend the evening schools, which are open from October to March or April. The other 2,900 are scarcely ever in our schools, except when work is slack in the mills. Does not this call for legislative interference! A law requiring all children and youth under eighteen to attend school three or four months in the year, as in some of the New England States; or, better still, compelling all children employed in the mills (and others too, for that matter), say between five and twelve years of age, to attend schools regularly three hours a day, leaving them free to work the rest of the time, would prevent a great impending increase of ignorance, and would make better citizens and better mechanics. At present two-thirds of the children leave school when but ten or eleven years old, and before passing through the primary grade. And here are 2,000 or 3,000 mere children growing up to be men and women with only the faintest smattering of reading, writing, arithmetic, to say nothing of geography and grammar. During the last few months there has been an important improvement in the regularity and punctuality of pupils attendance, owing to a vigorous enforcement of stringent rules relating thereto, and the offering of certificates of merit, etc. We still retain corporal punishment. A pupil may be strapped on the open hand, for persistent and wilful insubordination, but only by a principal, who keeps a record thereof. The use of the strap is discouraged and is more and more seldom resorted to.


Further non use of the school paddle

May 22 2011, 12:34 AM 

It is likely that immigrants to the USA brought their cultural heritage, customs and laws with them, and these then changed slowly in the "melting pot". The paddle was apparently not known in NYC schools in the early days (or subsequently).


History of the Public School Society of the City of New York

By William Oland Bourne


Excerpt Page 78

At the meeting of the board held on the 10th of January, 1823, a resolution was adopted, ordering corporal punishment in the schools to be discontinued, prohibiting entirely the use of the rattan, and permitting only the use of a leather strap in extreme cases - the strap to be applied only to the hand of the refractory scholar. This was a step in a reform which became, at a later period, a marked feature in the administration of the schools.

American Way

Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

May 22 2011, 1:20 AM 

KK The paddle. What role do you believe that slavery has to do with the use of said instrument, if any, in the school? While your research is not complete, in at least your eyes I would imagine, what's your sense?


Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

May 22 2011, 2:45 AM 

American Way asked:

What role do you believe that slavery has to do with the use of said instrument, if any, in the school? While your research is not complete, in at least your eyes I would imagine, what's your sense?

I do not know what influence the paddling of slaves in the USA had on the subsequent adoption of the paddle in many US schools. However, I do not think there was a direct link.

There is irrefutable proof that slaves were paddled and strong evidence that the contemporary explanation was that the paddle was favoured because it did not leave lasting marks that might adversely affect a slave's resale value.

There was a shift towards judicial paddling of slaves to mitigate over severe punishment administered by overseers. Thus, the law in the slave states was made aware of the paddle via slavery. Anti-slavery propaganda would have made many in the North aware of the practice.

Those who used paddles on their slaves might have been inclined to paddle their other chattels wives and children. Thus, the paddle may have been introduced into some homes via slavery. I have no information on this.

Some schools may have adopted punishments similar to those used in homes. A teacher had the same authority as a parent. If the paddle was used in homes it may have been adopted in schools, especially after education became compulsory. I have no evidence on this.

Paddles of various kinds were once common household items, as were shingles, and earlier times, hornbooks. These items, being to hand, may have been used to chastise.

Paddles were used in many US prisons before and after 1900. In at least some cases the paddle was seen (or promoted) as milder than the alternatives. It is unlikely the practise of paddling prisoners came directly from slavery which was in disrepute at the time.

Paddles were used by certain fraternities before and after 1900. These paddles resembled hornbooks in that they often have text and symbols inscribed thereon. I have no idea why fraternity adopted paddles although the notion of initiation by ordeal is very common in diverse cultures.

Paddles may have come to schools when university graduates started to be recruited as teachers. I have no evidence for this conjecture.

The decades after about 1880 were a period of reform. Possibly, those who considered school CP essential adopted the paddle for the same reason as slave owners to allow CP without leaving visible marks (and so deceive parents and dogooders).


Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

May 22 2011, 6:57 AM 


The Bard of Argyle

[...] On July 14, 1878 they had a son who they named Harry Lee Harrell. Harry grew up on the farm and went to the rural school house where he learned the three Rs but his teacher must have found that young Harry was unusually gifted in writing. [...]


Each community had a one room schoolhouse for kids from about 7 to 20 years old. The complete integration of all age groups must have posed problems. Many of the older boys chewed tobacco and were not shy about spitting anywhere they wanted. Standards of cleanliness were nowhere close to what we expect today. H.L. Harrell could recall how, from late fall through early summer, many of the older boys never bathed or changed clothes. He could remember seeing lice and bed bugs crawling on fellow students. Many children never saw a doctor or dentist and never used a toothbrush or comb. Sharing a small school room with some of these students must have been quite unpleasant. Despite the impressions that we now have, Harrell reported that most of the Texas school teachers were male and had to be physically strong enough to mete out the corporal punishment that was needed to keep some of the older boys in line. Discipline was enforced with a paddle, not a hickory stick, and they never heard of 'time out".



Slavery and the school paddle

May 22 2011, 9:32 PM 

The former slave states are the ones most strongly associated with the continued use of the school paddle. This does not mean that slavery caused school paddling. Rather, there may be a common cause for both.

Southern violence Sheldon Hackney, The American Historical Review, Vol. 74, No. 3, Feb., 1969 pp. 906-925.

A TENDENCY toward violence has been one of the character traits most frequently attributed to southerners.(1) In various guises, the image of the violent South confronts the historian at every turn: dueling gentlemen and masters whipping slaves, flatboatmen indulging in rough-and-tumble fights, lynching mobs, country folk at a bearbaiting or a gander pulling, romantic adventurers on Caribbean filibusters, brutal police, panic-stricken communities harshly suppressing real and imagined slave revolts, robed night riders engaged in systematic terrorism, unknown assassins, church burners, and other less physical expressions of a South whose mode of action is frequently extreme(2). The image is so pervasive that it compels the attention of anyone interested in understanding the South.

H. C. Brearley was among the first to assemble the quantitative data to support the description of the South as "that part of the United States lying below the Smith and Wesson line."(3) He pointed out, for example, that during the five years from 1920 to 1924 the rate of homicide per 100,000 population for the southern states was a little more than two and a half times greater than for the remainder of the country. Using data from the Uniform Crime Reports concerning the 1930's, Stuart Corder confirmed and elaborated Brearley's findings in 1938. For this period also he found that homicide was concentrated in the southeastern states. Of the eleven former Confederate [...]


Magnolias without moonlight: the American South from regional confederacy to national integration
Sheldon Hackney

Transaction Publishers, 2005 - History - 152 pages

The eleven ex-Confederate states continue to be thoroughly American and at the same time an exception to the national mainstream. The regions dual personality, how it came into being, and the purposes and interests it served is examined in Magnolias without Moonlight, as well as its central role in the politics and 'culture wars' flowing from the transformative Civil Rights Movement and the other social justice movements of the 1950s and 1960s.



Amazing discovery

May 22 2011, 10:42 PM 

An amazing discovery - political and social beliefs and background determine whether people support school CP or not

Publius, Volume 21, Issue2, Pp. 117-121.
Political Culture and Corporal Punishment in Public Schools
Sue Vandenbosch
Central Washington University South Seattle Center

The use of corporal punishment in public elementary and secondary schools was found to correlate with Sharkansky's political culture index. This is true not only for the simple correlation for which Pearson's r = 0.749 but also for correlations obtained after controlling for region.

In his landmark work over twenty years ago, Daniel J. Elazar published a typology grouping the states into three subcultures: moralistic, individualistic, and traditionalistic.' Later, Ira Sharkansky quantified Elazar's typology by assigning integers to the purely moralistic, individualistic, and traditionalistic states and also to states with hybrids of these subcultures.' Sharkansky found a significant correlation between fifteen variables relating to voter participation, bureaucracy, government programs, and his political culture scale. The strongest correlations were found with exam success, percent voting for U.S. representative, AFDC payments, and percentage of students graduating from high school. Controlling for personal income or region reduced the strength of the correlations. Many, however, continued to be
[statistically] significant. Political culture also has been shown to be related, for example, to the issue content of campaign spot announcements,' quality of urban life,' attitudes toward corruption in government and attitudes toward social welfare and economic issues,' the number of women elected to state legislatures,' and to political reform efforts.'

A Pearson's r = 0.749 represents a strong correlation in the so-called social sciences but not in the physical sciences. The last time I calculated one I got r = 0.9999 for 500 data in a light scattering experiment involving the application of Maxwell's equations.

I am still working towards trying to understand why the paddle became the preferred implement in US schools. The practice may have started in the South and spread. But why the paddle and not the strap or cane?


"Dug up old law"

May 22 2011, 11:27 PM 

I posted an 1897 news item on April 20 above which alluded to an old law in Indiana. I have tried to find that law, so far without success. The law seems to have been forgotton or repealed by 1911. Or perhaps the news article was in error. It may have been a local school board regulation rather than a state law.




State Superintendent of Public Instruction.


Chapter VI, Page 103

Section 113. Insulting teacher. 162. If any parent, guardian, or other person, from any cause, fancied or real, visit a school with the avowed intention of upbraiding or insulting the teacher in the presence of the school, and shall so upbraid or insult the teacher, such person, for such conduct, shall be liable to a fine of not more than twenty-five dollars, which, when collected shall go into the general tuition revenue. (R. S. 1908, 6608.)

The teacher may exact compliance with all reasonable commands, and enforce obedience by inflicting corporal punishment, in a kind and reasonable manner, upon a pupil for disobedience. Such punishment must be within the bounds of moderation, and apportioned to the gravity of the offense; but when complaint is made, the judgment of the teacher as to what the situation required should have weight, as in the case of a parent under similar circumstances, and the reasonableness of the punishment must be determined upon the facts of the particular case, The presumption is that the teacher did nothing more than his duty. The legitimate object of chastisement is to inflict punishment by the pain which it causes, as well as by the degradation it implies; and it does not follow that chastisement was cruel or excessive because pain was produced, or abrasions of the skin resulted from a switch used by the teacher. When a proper weapon has been used, the character of the chastisement with reference to any alleged cruelty or excess, must be determined by the nature of the offense, the age, physical and mental condition, as well as the personal attributes, of the pupil, and the deportment of the teacher. Vanactor v. State, 113 Ind. 276; Danenhoffer v. State, 79 Ind. 75. (1879)


No mention of the paddle in 1864

May 22 2011, 11:56 PM 

Strongly against blows to the head or hands.




Of what Horace Smith [poet] called the "sentimentalibus lachryma rorem" [Latin? Translation? Something to do with dew and tears?] we have not a particle. For rose-leaf government in seminaries of learning, or in organized communities, we have no admiration. Excessive punishment fails, it is true, of its effect; but in the government of pupils, humanity has frequently got the better of discretion. A stern administration of justice, through means of Dr. Birch, or Senor Rattan, we consider to be possible on rare occasions, but certainly sometimes indispensable in any well-regulated school. The stereotyped jest, that "you can not drive knowledge into a pupil's head by means of an application at the other end," is as unsound in fact as it is absurd in expression. Not that flogging directly stimulates the brain, but that the fear of it prevents idle pupils from wasting their time on any thing but the work in hand, or deters hardened offenders, whom milder punishments will not bring to repentance, from violations of good order. The very degradation of the lash, about which some are very eloquent, is strong in the way of restraint, and the fear of pain still more potent. All punishment brutalizes unless it be fully deserved; but there are times when it is a necessary part of the system of instruction. And gild the thing as you may; evade it by expedients; adopt the most cunningly devised, and nicely graded scheme of rewards and punishments; invent the must admirable plans to awaken the pride and develop the sense of duty in the pupil; "to this complexion must you come at last" - there are a few offences deserving of corporal punishment; and certain boys who are insensible to any appeal of honor or ambition: who are to be controlled only by fear. The remedy, in their case, is a hearty and substantial flogging.

How is that punishment to be administered, and for what offences? It should not be given frequently. Repeated often, it loses its terrors. A blow here, and a blow there, savors too much of vindictiveness. The boy begins to regard the teacher as his natural enemy. He exhibits a pride in defying the rod, and a stoicism under its infliction, if it be given for every petty offence. For inattention, unless it has grown to a habit - for trifling insubordination - it is enough to deprive the offender of part of his time at recess, or inflict such other penalty as may mark the teacher's displeasure, and prove unpleasant to the culprit. But for a falsehood, for deliberate cruelty, for oppression to a smaller schoolmate, for persistent and willful neglect, for open and defiant insubordination, we would flog the offender in open school. And we would use the old instrument, in the old manner, discarding the ruler, which appears to be the fashion in certain quarters, as both inefficient and dangerous, and not using the hand alone under any pretext.

An occurrence happened some years since, which satisfied us of the impropriety of any other than the orthodox mode. We saw a child, whose hand had been ruined by the severe application of a ruler to the palm. The teacher who did it was not brutal; on the contrary she was a lady in feeling and practice - one who had not the desire to harm a worm. The punishment was not vindictive, nor excessive in amount; it was administered with ordinary vigor, and doubtless from a mere sense of duty. Indeed, the child was a favorite pupil - yet the result was lamentable. The child was crippled in the hand; the teacher, though the parents finally forgave her, has never fully forgiven herself. It is the memory of this occurrence, which has impressed on us the necessity of calling teachers' attention to the matter, in a journal conducted for their own benefit, rather than having it done in journals of a less friendly character. And though the case is an extreme one, so long as there is a possibility of its occurrence again, under similar circumstances, it is worthy of grave and careful consideration.

The idea of flogging on the hand is a humane one, and the practice, theoretically, not liable to produce mischief. If the blows were struck entirely on and across the palm, nothing injurious could well ensue. The tissues there are thick, elastic, and capable of resistance. But, partly from the natural shrinkage of the little hand, and partly from an occasional nervousness on the part of the teacher, it is difficult to so graduate the blow that it will not fall partially upon the joints at the base of the fingers; and it is in a blow of precisely that character, in which the danger lies. In the case we refer to, inflammation followed, there was a "joint felon," and, in spite of careful surgical treatment, an anchylosis
[stiffness] of the finger-joint, leaving a permanent deformity.

Blows and cuffs on the head, no teacher, who reflects, ever gives. The practice is dangerous, and utterly indefensible.

There are occasions, we repeat, when boys must be flogged, if you would maintain discipline and good order; and we do not care how reasonably severe the flogging may be, if deserved. But switches are cheap, and nature has provided a portion of the human anatomy where the switch can be sharply applied, with impunity. With girls it would be more difficult; but a blow of any kind, need rarely, if ever, be applied to a girl. Milder punishments can be effectively used. In the case of a boy, there need be no trouble. There is a tempting prominence always ready for the purpose of the disciplinarian. The maxim of King Solomon may receive due reverence without danger to the recipient of his cherished application. But blows on the hands or head are manifestly improper; and punishment, in those few cases in which a clever teacher will find the rod to be needed, should be honored both in the breech and the observance.


In the days before the Spanish-American War

May 24 2011, 4:12 AM 

Mansfield Daily Shield (Ohio)
March 2, 1896

Spunky Spain

Needs a severe paddling by Uncle Sam

By Associated Press.

Washington, Mar. 2. At a special meeting of the cabinet held last night, under the guise of a dinner at the residence of Secretary Olney, the latter submitted a communication from the Spanish minister in Madrid to Minister [Spanish ambassador] De Leome, insisting that the United States government disavow the action of the United States senate regarding Cuba, as a condition precedent to the continued friendly relations between the two governments. This communication was surprising but the cabinet was inclined to excuse it on the ground of possible ignorance of the Spanish minister of our form of government. Another communication announced the purpose of the Spanish government, to protect Americans from outrages in Spain. Secretary Olney was directed to ignore the demand of disavowal and to return thanks for the offered protection.


Paddling causes fire?

July 7 2011, 6:16 AM 


The Gazette Times, Dec 19, 1912. (Pittsburgh, PA)

Spanking Produces Smoke

Teacher Paddles Youngster and Trousers Start to Burn

Columbus, Ohio, Dec 18 (Special)

Too vigorous application of a paddle to the side of a boy's trousers came near causing serious results in the public school at East Columbus. The teacher of his class had called him to the platform because of his unruliness.

The teacher did not reckon with the youngster's pockets. Carefully stacked away in one of them were some matches and the rapid application of the paddle caused the matches to ignite. Neither the boy nor teacher knew the fire had started until the youngster smelt smoke.




July 7 2011, 7:09 AM 

Mansfield Daily Shield, October 31, 1901 (Ohio)

The Matches by the Teacher's Paddle Were Ignited

A screamingly funny incident occurred yesterday at the Fifth Street school building in the forth grade. One of the pupils had been playing "hookey" for some time and turned up at school yesterday morning. His teacher had a wooden paddle ready for his coming and proceeded to correct the boy before school. The small boy before he went to school yesterday morning put a number of matches in his pistol pocket. The punishment began and soon what was thought to be dust was seen eminating from the boys trousers. The boy howled in anger and yanked the matches out of his pocket in a hurry and threw them on the floor. The school howled - and so did the boy. The boy is now able to sit down, although he had a narrow escape from being burned seriously.



Ohio - an early school paddling state?

July 7 2011, 8:09 AM 

Excerpt from The all Americans by Lars Anderson, St. Martin's Press, 2004

Born to Scottish parents in Detroit, Michigan, in 1897, little Earl Blaik had a mop of copper-colored haireveryone called him "Red" - and he played the role of the rambunctious redhead to a T. In school he sassed his teachers, telling them how things ought to be. He often got the paddle after class, but that did little to calm this tempest of a boy. He found that the best place to channel his energy was on the athletic fields, where he could dominate boys nearly twice his size.


Wikipedia: Blaik was born in Detroit, Michigan, the son of William Blaik, a blacksmith and carriage maker who emigrated from Glasgow, Scotland in 1883. In 1901 the family moved to Dayton, Ohio, where his father became a contractor.

He played college football for three seasons at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio under Chester J. Roberts, George Rider and George Little and two seasons at the United States Military Academy at West Point where he became a third-team All-American. Following his graduation in 1920, Blaik served in the United States Cavalry for two years. After his military service, Blaik married and worked in the construction business with his father.

Ohio features in 9 of the messages above.


No mention of the paddle in state law in 1858

July 7 2011, 11:57 PM 



Columbus, June 7, 1858

QUESTION 82. Mr. J-, a teacher in the common schools of the town of M-, has been prosecuted for inflicting corporal punishment on one of the scholars, who had repeatedly transgressed the rules of his school. It is not pretended that the punishment was disproportionate to the offense, or that the scholar received any personal injury; for the teacher struck him only three blows with an ordinary rod.

What is the law in regard to the right of a teacher to inflict corporal punishment on his scholars? Are there any cases or decisions which settle this question?

ANSWER. - The question as to the right of a teacher to inflict corporal punishment upon scholars has never come before the supreme court of this state. Teachers have been prosecuted in this as well as in other states for inflicting such punishment, and the question as to their legal right to do so has been frequently raised; but the decisions have, very generally, been in favor of such right. The teacher being in loco parentis, and responsible for the government and proper discipline of his school, is clothed with the same power to punish scholars for refractory conduct, which is allowed by law to a parent in the government of his children. The decisions of all the cases of this kind, within the knowledge of the undersigned, have generally turned on the point, whether the punishment was reasonable or not.

In a case which came before John C. Spencer, one of the ablest jurists of the State of New York, while he was superintendent ex officio of common schools, he decided that "the authority of the teacher to punish his scholars extends to acts done in the school room, or on the play-ground. The teacher of a school has, necessarily, the government of it, and he may prescribe the rules and principles on which such government will be conducted. The trustees should not interfere with the discipline of the school, except on complaint of misconduct on the part of the teacher; and they should then invariably sustain such teacher, unless his conduct has been grossly wrong."

A similar decision was made by John A. Dix, a distinguished statesman and jurist, while he was superintendent of common schools. He said: "The teacher is responsible for maintaining good order, and he must be the judge of the degree and nature of the punishment required, where his authority is set at defiance. At the same time, he is liable to the party injured for any abuse of a prerogative which is wholly derived from custom."

In Kent's Commentaries, seventh edition, vol. ii, page 212, note, the following decision may be found: "A school-master, who stands in loco parentis, may, in proper cases, inflict moderate and reasonable chastisement." The State v. Prendergrass.

The subjoined cases are somewhat analogous. "The master of a vessel may inflict moderate correction on his seamen for sufficient cause; yet if he exceeds the bounds of moderation, and is guilty of unnecessary severity, he will be liable for a trespass." 14 Johns. Eep. 119. "A master may justify the chastisement of his apprentice, servant or scholar, if it is done with a proper instrument and in a proper manner." 3 Salkeld, 47.

In Wharton's American Criminal Law, page 464, the following principle is laid down: " It is admissible for the defendant to show that the alleged battery was merely the correcting of a child by its parent, the correcting of a servant or scholar' by his master, or the punishment of the criminal by a proper officer; but if the parent or master chastising the child exceed the bound of moderation, and inflict cruel and merciless punishment, he is a trespasser and liable to be punished by indictment. The law confides to schoolmasters and teachers a discretionary power in the infliction of punishment upon pupils, and will not hold them responsible criminally, unless the punishment be such as to occasion permanent injury to the child, or be inflicted merely to gratify their own evil passions."

From the foregoing opinions and decisions, the principle would seem to be pretty well settled, that the power allowed by law to the parent over the person of his child, by the act of sending the child to school, delegated, for the time being, to the teacher; and that the same circumstances which would justify a parent in resorting to corporal punishment, in order to subdue a disobedient child, will also justify a teacher in the use of the same means to control a refractory scholar.

There has been, it is true, much diversity of opinion among eminent educationists and others, as to the necessity, expediency, or even utility of corporal punishment as a means of school government; but the right of the teacher thus to punish his scholars, for stubborn and continued resistance to his authority, has not been judicially denied.

QUESTION 85. - It is claimed by some of the citizens of the village of, that a teacher has no legal authority to punish his scholars for disorderly, immoral, or improper acts done while on their way to or from school, or at noon. If such is the law, how shall those be restrained, who abuse their school mates, and use profane and other unbecoming language in their presence, before or after school, or at noon?

. - The legal right of the teacher to punish his scholars for disorderly acts done in the school room or on the play-ground, before the opening of the school, after its close, during morning or afternoon recess, or at noon, has been fully recognized by the courts of this country. But whether his authority to punish his scholars extends to immoral or disorderly conduct elsewhere is not so fully established. By some it is contended that the legal right of a teacher to inflict corporal punishment upon a scholar in any case, is derived from the fact that he stands in "loco parentis" and therefore it can not be extended to acts done before this relation has commenced, or after it has terminated, without the express consent of the parent. It is further contended that this delegation to the teacher of the power allowed by law to the parent over the person of his child does not take place till the child has reached the school premises, and must end when he leaves for home. On the contrary, it is maintained by others, that the right of a teacher to hold his scholars responsible for improper conduct on their way to and from school, is fully sanctioned by usage. Under all the circumstances, it is believed that the most prudent course for a teacher to take in a case like the one presented, would be to notify the parent of the misconduct complained of, and if his permission to punish the offending scholar can be obtained, and the disorderly bahavior be repeated, then to refer the matter to the board of education.

There can be no doubt that boards of education possess the legal power to make and enforce such rules and regulations as in their judgment may be necessary for the best interests of the schools within their jurisdiction; and it is their duty as well as their right to co-operate with the teacher in the government of the school, and to aid him to the extent of their power and influence in the enforcement of reasonable and proper rules and regulations, and to dismiss a scholar from the school whenever he uses at school, or on his way to or from the same, such rude, vulgar or profane language, and exhibits such a degree of moral depravity generally, as to render his association with other scholars dangerous to the latter, or whenever he manifests such violent insubordination as to render the maintenance of discipline and order in the school impracticable or extremely difficult. It is also the duty as well as the legal right of the local directors to see that the general character, usefulness, and prosperity of the school are not impaired by allowing those to remain in it, whose whole influence, conduct, and bad character, have forfeited all claim to the enjoyment of its privileges.

[Ohio was admitted to the Union as the 17th state in 1803. It first introduced compulsory education in 1877.]

American Way

Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

July 8 2011, 1:24 AM 

Indiana State University Paddle for Initiation and one used on the backside of African Americans elementary schools (Division St. New Albany Indiana) during the days of segregated schools have an uncanny resemblance. Don't they? It may not be all about slavery.




American Way


July 8 2011, 4:45 AM 

66 miles apart and 11 years later. Posted 7/4/11 under CP Lighter Side. What are the odds?




66 miles apart and 11 years later.

July 8 2011, 5:16 AM 

Surely, America Way, you are not suggesting the "news" about fires during paddling might not be entirely true? Remember, this was before the advent of safety matches. I can remember as a boy having fun with wax matches and can well imagine boys 50 years earlier showing a similar interest. Boys of this type - match lovers, and girls too of course, would have been the very sort who got paddled at school.

American Way

Where there is smoke there is fire

July 8 2011, 1:15 PM 

It must have been a slow news day like smelling smoke. happy.gif Seriously, unless more stories from the pre-safety match days go online, from different parts of the country, I'll take the stories with a grain of salt. It isn't always true where there is smoke there is fire. happy.gif

I'm not ruling out its veracity I'm wondering what are the odds?

The rapid swats are in line with Renee's regime. She did a story on the necessity of checking back pockets even if it was just a dime. A mark is a lawsuit. the importance of checking the back pockets in the very sensible how to paddle information is found in Turkeyfoot. What a name. happy.gif



July 11 2011, 7:57 AM 


The American journal of education, Volume 3 (1870) (National Series)
Edited by Henry Barnard



Not inflicted except by the principal teacher. - Albany, N. Y., 1867.

Teachers shall avoid corporal punishment in all cases where good order can be preserved by milder measures. - Boston, Mass., 1866, p. 32.

Corporal punishment shall be resorted to only in cases of persistent misconduct, and after the failure of all other reasonable means of reformation. - Brooklyn, N. Y., 1867, p. 21.

When a teacher thinks it necessary to inflict corporal punishment, he shall prepare a statement in writing of the nature of the offence and the severity of the punishment, and make a report in writing to the sub-committee at the end of each month. Corporal punishment shall not be inflicted in any school without the consent and approval of the principal. - Cambridge, Mass., 1866. p. 14.

Rule the same as in Boston. - Chicago, ILL., 1866, p. 165.

So far as practicable teachers are to govern their pupils by the moral influence of kindness, and by appeals to the nobler principles of their nature. - Cincinnati, Ohio, 1867, p. 141.

While the board are of the opinion that corporal punishment cannot be entirely dispensed, with, they are decided in the conviction that it should be resorted to only in cases of flagrant disobedience, nor then until all other means are exhausted - a common rod or whip the only instrument. - Cleveland, Ohio, 1866, p. l19).

Teachers are not to employ corporal punishment where milder measures will succeed; never to engage in violent controversy on discipline with any pupil in presence of the school, and in the more difficult cases of discipline they may apply to the superintendent for advice and direction. A record of every case is to be kept, with the time and cause thereof, to be reported to the superintendent at the end of the term. - Detroit, Mich., 1866, p. 30.

Teachers are to punish as sparingly as may be consistent with securing obedience. - Dubuque, Iowa, 1867, p. 58.

Rule as in Boston. - Indianapolis, Ind., 1667, p. 70.

Teachers must avoid severe corporal punishment where good order and obedience can be secured by milder measures. A record of the punishment, and the reason, must be given to the superintendent. - Fort Wayne, lnd., 1866, p. 5.

Teachers shall avoid corporal punishment, when good order can be preserved by milder means. Fond du Lac, Wis , 1867, p 34.

Corporal punishment shall only be resorted to when other means fail. - Lowell, Mass., 1867, p. 20.

To be avoided if possible; and when inflicted the nature of the offence must be explained to the scholar. - Louisville, Ky., 1867, p. 86.

Used only in cases of extreme necessity. - Madison, Wis., 1867, p. 21.

It shall be the duty of teachers to govern by moral suasion, and discourage all infliction of corporal punishment, resorting to it only in extreme cases. - Milwaukee, Wis., 1867, p. 74.

Teachers must keep a record of each case of corporal punishment, giving the name of every scholar so punished, the nature and extent of the offence, and the punishment inflicted therefor, to be preserved for the inspection of the committee. - Manchester, N. II., 1867, p. 14.

Corporal punishment shall be administered only in extreme cases, and when all other means have failed; and a record of every case is to be submitted to the board at the end of the term. - New Haven, Ct., 1855, p. 9.

In maintaining good order and obedience, when other means fail, teachers may inflict corporal punishment. - Newport, II. I.. 1865, p. 2.

Inflicted with great deliberation. - Newburyport, Mass., 1866.

Corporal punishment may be inflicted for wilful neglect or insubordination, by the principal only. - Newark, N. J., 1867.

To be avoided when good order can be maintained by milder measures. - Norwich, Ct., 1867.

Not to be used in any girls' schools. - New York, 1867.

Rule same as in Boston. - Oswego, N. Y., 1863, p. 96.

Rule as in Boston, except that corporal punishment is defined to be all infliction of bodily pain - Providence, It. I., 1863, p. 40.

The rule is the same as in Boston. - Rutland, Vt, 1867, p. 21.

As a final resort, the use of the rod is one way in which good order may be preserved. - Springfield, Ill, 1867, p. 62.

As a general rule, corporal punishment should be resorted to only after milder measures have been fairly tried without success. Teachers are to return in their monthly reports the names of pupils who have received corporal punishment, and their offences. - Springfield, Mass., 1867, p. 19.

Those teachers who are most successful in controlling pupils without corporal punishment, other qualifications being equal, shall be awarded by the board a higher degree of appreciation, and retain the preference in promotions and appointments. - St. Louis, Mo., 1866.

Corporal punishment shall be avoided, except in extreme cases, and all cases recorded. - Salem, Mass., 1806, p. 23.

Teachers must preserve good order, without corporal punishment. - Syracuse, N. Y., 1867.

If punishment must be administered, let it be done deliberately, seriously, and effectively, but at the same time prudently. - Terre Haute, Ind., 1867, p. 28.

Teachers are to maintain a kind and faithful discipline, avoiding harsh punishments and provoking and improper language - Worcester, Mass., 1867, p. 13.


May contain OCR errors.

No mention of paddles. Only a few school mention any implements.


Analytical Index to Barnard's American Journal of Education

July 11 2011, 11:00 PM 


Thirty-one volumes published between 1855 to 1881. Various volumes have been republished with differing volume numbers which can cause confusion.

Dr. Henry Barnard, the first United States Commissioner of Education, apparently produced the 31 volumes of some 800 pages each, largely at his own cost.

Corporal punishment, History of, vol 26 : page 325

Corporal punishment, Infliction of in;
   English public schools, 15 : 108
   St. Mary's college, England, 16 : 530
   Cheshire, Conn., academy, 1798, 17 : 559
   Niles's school, Stonington, Conn., 17 : 608
   English public schools, 26 : 327

Corporal punishment, Rules concerning use in:
   Hesse Darmstadt, 14 : 416
   Dorchester, Mass, grammar school, 1639, 16 : 107
   United States, cities, 1869, 19 : 435
   Portugal, 20 : 523
   Wurtemberg, 20 : 687.

Corporal punishment, Views and suggestions on, by:
   Richards, Z., 1 : 110.
   Hamill, S. M., 1 : 130.
   Willard, E., 6 : 130.
   Lock, J., 6 : 212;
   Bell, A., 10 : 486.
   Ascham, R., 11 : 67.
   Lock, J., 11 : 479.
   Erasmus, 16 : 680.
   Hoole, C., 17 : 313.
   Rollin, C., 23 : 31.
   South, R., 23 : 343.
   Emerson, G. B., 28 : 264.
   Steele, Sir R., 23 : 345.
   St. Cyran, 28 : 5.
   Arnold, T., 28 : 770.
   Bossnet, 30 : 474.
   Rosenkranz, J. C. F., 38 : 21.


Rattan on the hand in Boston Schools 1903

July 12 2011, 6:55 AM 




The question whether or not corporal punishment should be permitted in the public schools of Boston has arisen frequently, and has been very fully discussed at various times. Under the present rules, such punishment may be inflicted only upon boys in the primary and grammar schools, and is restricted to blows on the hand with a rattan. In March, 1902, an order providing for the abolition of this means of enforcing discipline was introduced in the Board, and referred to the Committee on Rules and Regulations, who gave the matter very long and careful consideration, and in December of that year submitted a lengthy and interesting report upon the subject, from which we extract the following:

In 1867, the matter was very fully considered and an elaborate defence of corporal punishment was made in a report by Mr. Henry A. Drake. This report has been frequently quoted as an authority on that side of the question. [...]


Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

July 12 2011, 7:21 AM 

American Way,

Please, are you able to view and report on:


Journal of Education: Volumes 55-56 Boston University. School of Education - 1902 - Page 346.


Annual Reports of the Commissioner of Education

July 13 2011, 8:54 PM 

It remains a mystery as to when and why the paddle came to be the preferred implement in American schools. I have discovered a new line for investigation and seek help to access it.

The Annual Report of the [United States] Commissioner of Education overlaps the period when the school paddle may have become popular (1880 - 1920?). Some of the reports discussed or surveyed the use of corporal punishment, including in some cases the implements used for its infliction. I have not found the text of these reports on-line although there are mentions of the reports and excerpts from them in various publications, most of which seem to be available in Google Books snippet view only. The following is an example:


Journal of Education: Volume 56, page 346 (1902)

The present day tendency is to abolish corporal punishment in the public schools. There is an increased sparing of the rod every year. The extent to which corporal punishment is permitted in the schools of this country is the subject of an interesting investigation recently concluded by Dr. William T. Harris, United States commissioner of education. ...

The same page apparently also seems to mention bastinado and CP in Germany, items presumably not from the Annual Report (snippets):

This instrument is either a lath, paddle, or stick of bamboo. With it continued blows are struck upon the bare soles of the feet until very often the blood issues from beneath from beneath the nostrils.

In Germany there used to be in each city a functionary dubbed "the Blue Man," whose sole duty was to go from school to school and flog bad children. He wore a mask and blue cloak, but none of his victims ever fathomed his personality Needless to say, the mere mention of his nickname caused all little German girls and boys of those "good old days" to tremble in their boots.

In Germany the school dungeon is even now a stern reality. The typical prison of this category has an iron-grated window, a small stove, two wooden chairs, two oak tables, and a narrow wooden bedstead. The prisoner must supply his own bedding. On entering he pays about twenty cents; on leaving, a similar sum. Every day in prison costs him twelve cents.


Mentions of the Paddle in Miscellaneous Google Book Snippets

July 13 2011, 10:12 PM 

Report of the Commissioner of Education for the Year Ending June 30, 1904. Volume 2.

Chapter XXXVII - "Current Topics" (i.e. compulsory attendance, child labor laws, free text books and supplies, temperance instruction, corporal punishment, education in Cuba, teachers' salaries in cites, etc);

Mental defectives: their history, treatment, and training

Martin W. Barr - 1904 - 352 pages - Snippet view

My experience is that there are occasions calling for heroic treatment when nothing but corporal punishment will avail. A few light taps in the gluteal region with a paddle, hair brush, or a slipper, will often be sufficient to bring a ...

The Rainbow of the Delta Tau Delta: Volume 37

Delta Tau Delta Fraternity - 1914 - Snippet view

Corporal punishment. The first is inadequate for it is not effective in many respects. ... It sort of tones a man down and the sting of the paddle usually remains for a time during which said brother has accomplished some deep thinking. ...

The Detroit educational bulletin: Volumes 3-6

Detroit (Mich.). Board of Education - 1919 - Snippet view

Reports All cities require records kept and reports made of all cases of corporal punishment. Instruments Instruments by which corporal punishment may be inflicted vary from "the laying on of hands" to switch, paddle or rubber hose. ...

The Illinois teacher: Volumes 27-28

Illinois Education Association - 1938 - Snippet view

small switch may be used more cruelly by one person than a leather strap, or a wooden paddle, by another person. ... The courts have a tendency to look with less favor upon the corporal punishment of pupils but still recognize ...


More early mentions of "paddle"

July 14 2011, 12:21 AM 


Dialect Notes (Publication of the American Dialectic Society)
Volume II (1900 - 1904)

The Dialect of Southeastern Missouri. D S Crumb

Page 323

Paddle, v. To spank.


Dialect Notes
Volume III (1905 - 1912)

A List of Words From Northwest Arkansas II. Page 89

Paddle, n. A ruler, a flat stick. "I hope you will not use that paddle on me." Common.

Paddle, v. tr. To spank; to ferule ."If you touch that, I'll paddle you." Common. Cf. ii 323.


Apparently, those interested in language collected words and uses they considered non-standard, and reported them to others with a similar interest in dialects.


Still more early dialectic mentions

July 14 2011, 1:17 AM 






The compiler of a list of the colloquial or dialect words of any locality hardly sees his work in print before he discovers many omissions and errors. In sending out this imperfect word-list of East Alabama dialectalisms, I earnestly urge all persons who are familiar with the localisms of the district herein described or with general Southern provincialisms to correct any errors noticed and to send me a record of any new words or phrases, so that I may not only supplement the list here presented, but eventually collate the general colloquial usages peculiar to the Southern State.


Page 355

Paddle, v. tr. To spank, whip. Also ' paddle the fillin(g) out of one,' to beat soundly.







paddle, v. t. To spank.


As noted previously, the verb paddle was not included in the 1913 edition of Websters dictionary. The verb was clearly in use before this time. The dictionary would have taken years to write and may have missed some contemporary words.


US SCP in 1904, NJ editorial comment

July 14 2011, 10:59 PM 


The Sunday Call, Newark, NJ. 27 March 1904.

Anti-Rod Rules in Large Cities

Corporal Punishment in Schools Quite Generally Permitted

New Jersey Still the Only state in the Union to forbid the use of Rod by Law - Interesting Facts from Cities over 100,000 Inhabitants

Over ten years ago, corporal punishment in the public schools of New Jersey was abolished by law. At that time many educators, politicians and other citizens believed the change a good one. Not a few believed that in making such a law New Jersey had demonstrated to the world her intellectual breadth and her wisdom. Some, however, have undoubtedly changed their minds enough to feel that perhaps, after all, the total abolition of the rod from the schools was ill-advised, and that the action was not based on the soundest principles. It is to be doubted if the anti-rod law has won many converts in Newark during the ten years of its operation, and it is, on the other hand, quite certain that many who once thought those who opposed the law believed in the indiscriminate flogging of children have come to understand that the opposition desired only that the rod might be used in extreme cases after all other possible means of correction had failed.

If one is to learn by observation, it is well to look about outside New Jersey and to get to understand how the country at large looks upon corporal punishment. The records of the last ten years do not support the stand taken by New Jersey on this issue. The great majority of the larger cities acknowledge that the use of the rod is at times essential. When New Jersey abolished the rod it was the first State in the Union to do so as a State. It was confidently asserted that in this improvement New Jersey would lead her sisters along new lines of progress. But the sisters somehow refuse to be led, for New Jersey is still the first State to abolish corporal punishment. She has enjoyed this honor all by herself for ten years. Why is it that the rest of the States are so far behind New Jersey in this matter of public education while so many of them have long been, to say the least, abreast of her in other phases of education? Have all the other States erred, or is it possible that New Jersey has made a mistake?

But the answer made by those who rise to New Jersey's defense has been that while other States have not abolished corporal punishment by law the large cities and many small ones have done so. In the annual report of the United States Commissioner of Education for 1902, recently issued, statistics are given covering the regulations relating to corporal punishment in cities of over 100,000 inhabitants. Here it is shown that but nine of these cities have regularly banished the rod, and even in two of these nine exceptions are made. In the following cities corporal punishment must not be inflicted in the public schools: New York, Toledo. Chicago, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Cleveland and Syracuse. In St. Paul, Minn., the rod may be used to repel violence, and in Providence it can be used "with parents" consent in the primary grades. In Philadelphia it is not absolutely forbidden by law, but is reported to have been given up by common consent.

In many other of the leading cities of this continent corporal punishment may be used, with sundry restrictions and divers specifications. In New Jersey there were those who a few years ago said the educators could not be trusted to whip only when whipping was essential. In scores of cities and towns elsewhere the communities have confidence in the educators, as is shown by the following facts.

In Boston, Mass., corporal punishment is forbidden in high schools and kindergarten as to girls in any school. In any case it is restricted to blows upon the hand with a rattan. Each case must be reported through the principal to the superintendent.

In Buffalo. N Y. the schools must be governed. as far as possible, without corporal punishment, except when the principal gives special permission to other teachers, only a principal or acting principal may inflict it,

In San Francisco punishment may not be inflicted in the high schools or upon girls in any schools. It is permitted only in extreme cases and may be inflicted only by principals or by vice principals, with the consent of principals. Excessive punishment is prohibited, only a strap or rattan being allowed.

In Cincinnati corporal punishment may be inflicted only for failures in lessons and recitations. Blows on the head or violent shaking of pupils is prohibited. In Pittsburg it is not forbidden but is used only in extreme cases.

In New Orleans it is prohibited in the Boys' High School and in all girls' departments, and may be inflicted only in extreme cases, and then only on the hands. In Detroit corporal punishment must be avoided if possible, and must be used only with full knowledge and consent of the principal.

In Milwaukee it is permitted, as last alternative, by the principal only. Excessive punishment and lonely confinement are prohibited. It must not be inflicted in the presence of the class, and all cases must be reported monthly to the superintendent.

In Washington, D. C. corporal punishment must be avoided if possible. All cases must be reported monthly to the principal and through him and the supervising principal to the superintendent.

Corporal punishment must be avoided as far as possible in the schools of Louisville, Ky. Cruel punishment or confinement in closets is prohibited, and punishment may only be inflicted after the nature of the offense has been fully explained to the pupil.

When all other means fail corporal punishment may be used in Minneapolis schools, and principals alone may inflict it, and they only when parents have given written consent. Each case must be reported by principal to superintendent.

Indianapolis, Ind. - Must be avoided as far as possible. May be inflicted only in presence of principal, and must be immediately reported by him to superintendent.

Kansas City, Mo. - May be inflicted in cases of flagrant offenses, and then only after duly notifying parents or guardians of intended punishment; and if parent or teacher must inflict no additional punishment. Must not be inflicted in presence of school, but at the close of session and in presence of two other teachers or the superintendent.

Rochester. N. Y. - May be inflicted in extreme cases by the principal or, with his consent, by an assistant.

Denver, Col. District No. 1. - May be inflicted only after consultation with and with consent of principal. When practicable, superintendent should be consulted. All cases must be immediately reported to superintendent.

Allegheny, Pa. - Must be avoided when obedience and good order can be preserved by milder measures.

Columbus, Ohio - Allowed when all other means have failed. To be inflicted in schoolroom by pupils teacher, the principal being the judge of special cases. Punishment in the nature of personal indignity forbidden.

Worcester, Mass. - permitted only in extreme cases, then only when approved by principal or superintendent. Must not be inflicted in presence of school.

New Haven. Conn. - May be administered, with consent of principal, in extreme cases only, but never at same session of school in which the offense was committed. Cases to be reported monthly to superintendent.

Fall River, Mass. - May be inflicted where milder measures fail. Must not ordinarily be administered in presence of school. Record of each punishment and offense must be sent to superintendent for inspection of board.

St Joseph, Mo. - Must be avoided as far as possible. Each case to be reported to principal and by him monthly to superintendent.

Omaha. Neb. - Teachers are required to govern their pupils by kindness appeals to their nobler affections and sentiments.

Los Angeles, Cal. - Must be avoided if possible, switch or strap to be used, blows upon face or head forbidden.
Memphis, Tenn. - Must be avoided when good order can be preserved by milder measures.

To sum up, the heads of schools in large cities are coming to understand that corporal punishment must either be made use of in some cases or the child be turned into the street. They know that to enact laws forbidding corporal punishment is one thing, but to enforce them is another. That corporal punishment is inflicted in some of the schools of this city is generally believed and has not been authoritatively denied. It is, therefore, the wisest course to permit the use of the rod by law and then carefully and intelligently to watch over its application.


The above may contain OCR and transcription errors. Changes have been made to the formatting.

There is no mention of the paddle in any of the above and only a few mentions of implements. This suggests there was no public concern about choice of implements at this time.


Re: US SCP in 1904, NJ editorial comment

July 15 2011, 1:40 AM 

Source of newspaper report:

Report of the Commissioner of Education for the Year Ending June 30, 1904. Volume 2.

Chapter XXXVII - "Current Topics" [...] corporal punishment (page 2285) [...]


[A table extending over three pages. Image quality is rather poor.]


Reports of the Commissioner of Education available on-line

July 15 2011, 1:46 AM 

Report of the Commissioner of Education made to the Secretary of the Interior for the year ... with accompanying papers. 1870 - 1928.
[Not all years or volumes are included in this database, and most notably, not that for the year ending June 1902.




July 15 2011, 10:11 PM 

The collection of posts above is chaotic. Items have been posted in the order they have been discovered rather than in chronological order, or by type of record or publication. The items need to be sorted to produce a more coherent history.

I now summarize the situation as I understand it.

Despite diligent searching of the internet (by a self-taught amateur historian with little knowledge of American history), the question as to why and when the paddle came to be so popular in American schools remains largely unanswered.

It is clear the school paddle was known and in use before 1900. Its use did not spread widely until after this, possibly not until as late as the 1950's - this is speculation.

There is no clear direct link between slavery and school paddles, or between prison paddles and school paddles. There is presently no evidence for the theory that the paddle was introduced into schools by graduate teachers with a fraternity background. There is presently no evidence that the school paddle derived from the hornbook or the shingle. However, none of the above theories are discounted by the evidence to hand. (I have not yet actively researched domestic use of the paddle - that is the use of the paddle by parents on their offspring.)

Internet coverage of news, official reports, books, periodicals, academic papers, etc. is very uneven over time and geographic regions. The currently-paddling US states are under represented in the accessible records, or at least the records I have found.

US schools are mainly locally organized with differences between states in the degree of their regulation and accountability. Some schools were little or belatedly affected by advances in educational theory, best practice, social reforms and outside influences. Such schools probably have a smaller presence on the internet that larger city schools.

Much of the older internet material seems to be based on old microfilm or microfiche copies made in the 1970's when there was concern about the bulk and durability of paper documents in libraries. Huge volumes of documents, some quite tatty from use, were scanned at speed by people with little or no interest in the substance of what they were scanning. Automatic optical character recognition (OCR) is hampered by the poor quality of the images if not the poor quality of the original printing, or the poor condition of the source document. This has not affected Google searches as much as might be suspected as keywords tend to appear several times in documents of interest so are more likely to be correctly rendered by OCR software even in barely readable documents. Recent digital scans of paper documents are also of rather variable quality for reasons that soon become apparent to those who attempt the task. It is a very tedious and herculean task.

Some material, especially more recent material, is blocked by copyright. Searches are hampered by pay walls, which greatly deter speculative viewing of articles that may or may not contain material of interest.

The accessible documents on the internet probably give a distorted view of reality. Undoubtedly, important documents remain to be discovered in libraries if not yet on the internet.

Threads relevant to this discussion include: Classroom management (book) http://www.network54.com/Forum/198833/thread/1289432033/last-1289667220 (Includes mentions of the shingle.)

A utilitarian explanation of the popularity of the paddle is that it is the best technology available for the task at hand.

Can anyone help advance my research?

American Way

Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

July 16 2011, 1:31 AM 

Scholastic discipline, judging by historic restorations of the earliest schools, have three kinds of instruments of correction. The early urban areas like Boston Latin School were extensions of the UK. The frontier schools often used the hickory stick or a switch.

When the one room school houses ran their course and children were educated beyond the 3 R's in cities with tens of thousands or more students, a few decades after the Civil War through the depression the schoolmarm were prepared in "normal school" , more often than not a two year college dedicated to prepare single woman for teaching in the classrooms. The college educated men, around in the early part of the twentieth century, were paid enough to support their families and applied corporal punishment in a formal manner outside the classroom with published policies. Students became called scholars and textbooks for teaching were published.

Paddles were used during slavery and in all black schools.

Wooden slats from woodsheds were usually mostly on boys by their fathers. Here is a woodshed, the father's domain, spanking using only a hand on an errant daughter. I couldn't help but think of you know who. Red hair from small town rural setting from the forewarn Chicago Spanking Review site.



Paddles were more like coal shovel shaped than fraternity types displayed on school history field trips. The distinctive shape of the paddles from the 1930's onwards were often the same as college initiation ones that were used beyond "hell week" but by upperclassmen on underclassman miscreants. These paddles are ubiquitous from then on.

KK, I'm far from an expert but I do share some interests and have anecdotal accounts from the stories past down, however apocryphal as are stories of personal reminisces here.


Historical research

July 16 2011, 3:34 AM 

I am wanting something more than assertions that such and such was so, unless you have direct personal experience of the event or can direct me to the source of your information.


Historical research encompasses two forms of sources, also know as "evidence": primary and secondary. "Primary evidence records the actual words of someone who participated in or witnessed the events described.....Secondary evidence records the findings of someone who did not observe the event but who investigated primary evidence." [Jules R. Benjamin, A Student's Guide to History, 6th edition, #NY: St. Martin's Press, 1994#, p. 7]

Primary evidence can include newspapers, diaries, letters, interviews, speeches, laws, other official statements, and works written by individuals with first-hand knowledge of an event.

See also:http://www.ala.org/ala/mgrps/divs/rusa/sections/history/resources/pubs/usingprimarysources/index.cfm and many others.


University student discipline, c 1919

July 16 2011, 5:32 AM 

The following news items from 1919 and 1920 suggest that university students in Missouri at least were familiar with, and comfortable about the notion of paddling as a punishment aside from any fraternity hazing or initiations. They may have been exposed to the paddle in high school and / or had influence over its use in schools in subsequent years, perhaps as fathers, teachers or as school board members. It is most interesting that individual paddlings made the news, sometimes on the front page.


The Evening Missourian, September 25, 1919, page 6, col. 4


Meeting Last Night Decides to Limit Size of Paddles.

Students in the School of Law had a mass meeting Wednesday night at which the question of paddling was taken up and thoroughly discussed in accordance with the request of the Student Senate. One hundred out of the 175 students registered in the School of Law were present and voted to keep up traditions, with some reservations. They decided that the sizes of the paddles used in punishing offenders should be limited, that freshmen should not be allowed to take part, that the juniors and sophomores should act as guards.

The committee appointed by the Student Senate on the paddling question will meet and compare notes tomorrow. Rules and regulations will then be formulated by the Student Senate and submitted to the student body at the mass meeting before the Drury game.



The Evening Missourian, October 01, 1919, page 1, col. 2


Failure to Attend Meeting Is Reason for Punishment.

L. B. Wilkes, Noble Taylor and J. F. Calvert, students in the School of Engineering, felt the sting of paddles wielded by sophomore students in the School of Engineering at 1 o'clock this afternoon.

The paddling was administered as punishment for non-attendance at a recent meeting held by the sophomores. Wilkes objected to the punishment, claiming that he was a junior and the sophomores had no jurisdiction over him.

This is the second paddling held by the students of the School of Engineering this term.



The Evening Missourian, October 04, 1919, Page 4, cols 2 &3.


In 1905 there existed on the West Campus of the University a hard beaten path about two feet wide leading straight from the Manual Arts Building to the Chemistry Building passing just east of the Columns in the center of the Quadrangle.

This path had been made by students who, disregarding the wide sidewalks, thought to save time and energy by traveling the shortest distance between the two points, the Manual Arts and the Chemistry Buildings.

The students who feet traveled this beaten path, it is said, were, for the most part, freshman engineers who went from their drawing class to their freshman chemistry class.

A group of students sitting on the steps of the Engineering Building one evening even as they do now, watched the freshmen wend their weary way along the barren pathway to the Chemistry Building.

To at least one student in that group, it did not look exactly right that unthinking feet should trample down the grass of the campus when sidewalks built for the purpose of being walked on existed and he said something to that effect.

Tradition was Born

The rest of the group agreed with him and then and there the old tradition that "students shall not walk on the grass on the Quadrangle was born. This, according to H. A. LaRue, associate professor of highway engineering in the University, was the very beginning of that tradition. Mr. LaRue, who was graduated from the University in 1907, was one of the students in that group.

The next day notices were posted to the effect that persons who "cut corners" or walked on the grass of the Quadrangle where sidewalks already existed would be paddled by the engineers. Violators of the decree were plentiful the first day but all who witnessed the paddling on the second day were more loath to forsake the sidewalks for the soft grass. In a week, that beaten path became deserted and little sprouts of grass began to cover up the sins of the transgressors.

Venture was successful

Thus, the engineers by means of paddles accomplished what M. L. Lipscomb, then superintendent of the University grounds, had been unable to accomplish by means of much talk, signs and barriers.

Paddling as punishment for other "crimes", and even the tradition about underclassmen keeping off the mounds, existed before 1905, Mr. LaRue said, but this was the first time paddles had been used for walking on the grass.

Just how many students have been paddled for this offense would be hard to estimate, but the engineers have well earned their title as guardians of the West Campus.


The Columbia Evening Missourian (Columbia, Mo.) Wednesday October 13, 1920, Page 2, col. 2.

University News

Curtis Potts paid the penalty for violation of the tradition in regard to "keeping of the grass'" at noon, yesterday. Engineers armed with paddles, administered the punishment. Another student was scheduled for a "paddling" but was excused because of a lame knee.


No mention of paddles

July 16 2011, 9:03 AM 


Nebraska Advertiser, March 09, 1882, page 7, col. 5.

Colored Schools in South Carolina

In a single school in Charleston there are fourteen hundred negro children. The teachers are all white the principal is a man; all the other teachers are women, many of them ladies of great refinement, themselves once mistresses of slaves, whom necessity has compelled to seek employment. They are working in good faith, and with an infinite patience, and they undoubtedly make the best teachers for the blacks. From their intimate knowledge of them, they know when it is wise to insist and when to yield. Numbers vary. One primary teacher has had one hundred and eighty pupils under her charge at once. The first class in the intermediate grade averages fifty. In this class they are of every size and age, from boys of eleven to women of twenty-two and twenty three. In this class they learn long division. Arithmetic is the thing they care most for. The boys are brighter and quicker than the girls, but the girls are more docile and more attentive which makes good the difference. The girls can be managed without corporal punishment; the boys not, for a rattaning is a small matter to them, since many of their fathers are likely to use either a rope or a club upon them. [. . .]



Tombstone Epitaph (Arizona), March 03, 1888, page 2, col. 1.

Editorial comment

In answer to the editorial of the Prospector [rival newspaper], we publish the opinion of Col. Parker, principal of the Cook County Normal School, near Chicago, the head and originator of the "New Education," and a man who is considered one of the most progressive teachers in the United States

"If the choice between anarchy, misrule and comparative order must be made, I am bound to recommend, in such cases, the judicious use of a rattan. Corporal punishment is far preferable to scolding that turns the school-room into a perpetual washing-day. It is preferable to many inventions that have been discovered to avoid straightforward punishment such as shutting children up in dark closets, making them stand for hours on the floor, sending them home, or keeping them after school. If you punish in anger, you simply enhance the difficulty. Anger begets anger. The sting of the rod must be accompanied by the genuine sympathy of real love." ,


The Morning Call (San Francisco), November 14, 1891, page 4, col. 4

Principals Declare in Favor of the Strap for Unruly Pupils

The school principals met in Odd Fellows' Hall yesterday afternoon, Superintendent Swett acting as Chairman. President Hyde of the Board of Education was present, and took part in the various discussions. The principal topic before the meeting was the rule relating to corporal punishment in the public schools. The rule restricts punishment to the palm of the hand, and a strap is the instrument designated to be used. Many of the principals present were in favor or the abolition of corporal punishment, while others held that it was impossible to deal with unruly boys in any other way.

Deputy Superintendent Babcock stated that in the school where there is the least bodily punishment there is the best discipline. The statistics of the department showed that one or two teachers in each school usually required the corporal punishment of their pupils. In one of the schools last year there were six cases of corporal punishment asked for by one teacher. This showed a lack of teaching ability and disciplinary power. The object should be not to regulate corporal punishment by rules and rattans, but the unruly boy should be brought over by increasing the teaching qualities of the teacher, and augmenting their power to properly govern. Principal Hamilton of the Lincoln School thought that some kind of corporal punishment was necessary. He had found it so in his school.

Superintendent Swett asked if it was the sense of the meeting that corporal punishment should be confined to the hand, but the majority were in favor of the exercise of freedom and discretion in castigating disobedient pupils, and laying on the strap where it hurt the most.

[The above may contain OCR errors.]


Ohio, 1885

July 18 2011, 3:25 AM 

The following amusing excerpt suggests the judicial punishment paddle was well known in Ohio in 1885. All four parts of the poem need to be read to properly understand the story and the twist at its end.


A new unique, original collection of humourous tales, histories, curious conceits, quaint rhymes, jests, comical misconcepcions and laughable happenings among typographic printers throughout ye U.S. of N. America

Author: George W Bateman

Publisher: Cincinnati, Ohio, The compiler, 1885.


page 24

Jim Dash

A Doggerel in four takes [parts]

page 26


The Judge to Jim Dash: "How canst thou explain
The charges on which the boys thee arraign?
Ah-ha! he says nothing. Then guilty he is -
I see, by the look on his mis-shapen phiz.
A sentence I'll pass, and a punishment mete,
That'll rack him clear down to the soles of his feet!
Know, therefore, Jim Dash, that for all these thy tricks
The boys shall administer one hundred licks.
Bring forth the great paddle, and take off his clothes!
And spare him not, lads - unless money he shows."

The boys had been aching to join in the racket,
So quickly they pulled off his pants and his jacket;
And, in spite of the way he for mercy did beg,
They bended his body around a beer keg.
The paddler stood ready, with oak stave in hand,
To ply it with vigor when came the command.

A silence, most awful and serious prevailed,
When, sudden, the victim most piteously wailed:
"For heaven's sake, boys, I will buy all the beer
In the house, if you'll only release me from here!"

"Well said, my good fellow!" the Judge then did cry;
"You spoke just in time, for we're all very dry.
Release him, you villain, and let him alone;
For if he does want to amend and atone
We'll spare him the paddle, and drink to his health -
He talks just as if he had plenty of wealth -
We'll toast him in bowl after bowl of Gambrinus,
And all in the house now shall set in and jine us."

Chris L Ruth [?]


The paddle in California, 1913

July 18 2011, 4:49 AM 


The Psychological clinic: a journal of orthogenics for the normal development of every child. Psychology, hygiene, education, Volume 6


Editer: Lightner Witmer

Constructive Morals and School Life. Page 252-
Herbert F Clark. Principal Olive Special School, Los Angles, Cal

Dealing with burglary on a school trip. The paddle would seem to be well established.


On Monday morning when I arrived at school the guilty boys met me with penitent spirit and tear bedimmed eyes and begged for a chance to recompense the man on the hill for his expense and trouble. They said they would refund the money he paid out, and would pay him for any trouble he had been put to, and they said that they would be good in future. I took the matter up with the rest of the class and we decided to grant the boys their request provided the penalty of "swats" be added. This meant that the guilty boys must lean over a desk and allow each of the other boys to give them a hard "swat" with a long paddle. The "swats" were administered immediately to seal the bargain and the boys set about getting the money. This took two or three days. When that was done I put on the board the following letter, and for a language lesson required all the boys to write it with the understanding that the one best written should be signed by each one of us and sent with the money to Mount Wilson.


Girls paddled in 1910

July 18 2011, 5:57 AM 


The Herald, Carroll, Iowa, Wednesday 27 April 1910

Girls Are Spanked With Wooden Paddle

Whipped With Rubber Hose and Clothed Only in Thin "Nighties"

Des Moines. IA., April 21. - Rev. R H Bell, pastor of St. Paul's Episcopal church, investigated the Mitchellville school at the request of Governor Carroll, and makes a sensational report charging that the girls are spanked with a wooden paddle 19 inches long, that they are whipped with a piece of rubber hose, and that naughty girls are locked up in a lonely room and deprived of all clothes except a night gown, and forced to go to bed for days at a time. He pays tribute to the cleanliness of the place and says the girls are given a fair and liberal education.


Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

July 18 2011, 6:29 AM 

The following item could be fiction but it does disclose a knowledge of and interest in the domestic paddle.


The Pittsburg Press, 20 October 1903.


Almost Kills Its Inventor While he is making a Test.

Harvey Miller, a farmhand, working for J. E. Reynolds, a prosperous farmer at Cedar Point, a few miles west of here, was spanked almost to death by a machine of his own contrivance.

Miller, who is an inventor, discovered a "mother help" machine. It consists of a series of phonographs to be set in each room of the house. On pressing a button, any one of the phonographs desired will call out, "Stop that, Robert, and be a good boy." Or will call out. "If you aren't a good boy mamma will whip you." The device is worked by electricity and is supposed to relieve the mother of much running to and fro after her offspring and to make the latter behave.

Miller has also a graduated spanking attachment. The person to be spanked is strapped flat down on a board, while a strong hardwood paddle operated by an electric motor does the -work. Two dials control the mechanism. On the dial are printed ages from 2 to 16 so that the force of the blows can be regulated according to age. On the other are the words "light, fair, good, hard, serious," to correspond with the offense for which punishment is to be inflicted.

Miller had finished the mechanism last week, and after vainly attempting to secure a friend to try it had himself strapped down on a board while a number of friends operated the works. The paddling was started at age 2, slight, and gradually tugged on until age 16, serious, was reached.

Miller was by this time roaring for mercy and promising to be good, while the onlookers were rolling on the floor doubled up in laughter, not knowing that Miller, the inventor, had been terribly punished.

Miller's strength was rapidly failing when his friends noted his condition, but not being familiar with the machine were unable to make it stop.

Miller had lost consciousness when someone released the buckles of the strap which held him down and rescued him.

Miller's first act on regaining his senses was to destroy the "mother's help."-.Anoka, Minn , Cor. Chicago American.


Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

July 18 2011, 6:45 AM 

This item confirms there was a concern about marking.


Spokane Daily Chronicle 17 June 1910

Spanking Chair for Juveniles

Unruly Boys Promise to Be Good after Receiving a "Dressing"

Although the whipping post is a thing of the past, the principle in revised and modern form and judiciously applied is expected to work wonders in enforcing good behavior upon soma of the worst offenders brought before the juvenile court, says the Columbus Dispatch.

A "spanking chair" has been set up in the basement of the juvenile home, and Ellsha Searls was the first to occupy it. He promised to be good for all time when he had been given a "dressing," and he was instructed to relate his experience to other lads who have an inclination to be very, very naughty.

The juvenile court paddle consists of a long leather strap, wide and heavy, and it is bound with felt, so that the edges will not cut or bruise the flesh. The paddle "stings right," but leaves not marks, and is much more humane than a switch or a slipper and more effective.


No mention of the paddle in San Francisco in 1902

July 19 2011, 10:32 PM 

The following may contain OCR error.


The San Francisco Call, March 23, 1902, page 13
The Sunday Call


Should boys be whipped at school? The question always brings out a loud chorus of noes and ayes. But the ayes have it and, according to Superintendent Webster, there are from 700 to 900 boys whipped during each school year in San Francisco.

The rod has always had an honored place as a factor in school discipline. In early days in San Francisco, as elsewhere, it was used without stint, without fear, without favor. Then came a time when it was not permitted to punish girls by whipping. Then came a rule providing that only principals or vice principals should administer corporal punishment. This was followed by rules limiting the methods of punishment to the use of rattan or strap, such punishment to be resorted to only in extreme cases, when all other means fail. There is a special clause that no excessive, cruel or unusual punishments shall be allowed. While all this has been taking place boys have kept on being boys. Boys are the same today, yesterday, forever.

Ask any schoolboy why he gets whipped at school and he will answer, "for havin' fun."

"Havin' fun" covers everything from spitballs to staying away from school with no one's permission, and no excuse next day. You who were boys when you were little, and those of you who were and not too goody-goody, just go to the days when you kinked your knees under those low desks with the stiff, hard seats.

What did you do? Why, you shot notes across the aisle, scraped your feet on the floor, acted the clown when the teacher wasn't looking and some other boy was; you whispered and pinched your seat mate or the boy in front of you, you swopped marbles, made faces, told stories, played "hockey." fought - in fact, what didn't you do?

Boys are doing all these things today, and girls, too, for that matter. They seem like little things to you, perhaps, but that is because you are not a teacher whose business it is to make a half-hundred or more restless, wriggling youngsters sit up like little wooden images and do nothing but study and recite. Every day of the year, boys are being whipped for doing these things. Now and again one boy's whipping attracts particular attention, and then people begin to ask should boys be whipped at school? By whom? How? Why?

These are big questions with many answers .

There are those who think it a cruel shame that the teacher is not allowed to punish: that the only thing she can do is to send the child to the principal, who may or may not believe in whipping. In reply, there are those who say that the teacher against whom the offense is committed is not the proper one to administer punishment.

When the matter is up to the principal there comes the question of how far the parent will support him. Some parents say "Whip," others say "Hands off." In a case where teacher can't, principal don't and parent won't, what is to be done?

It is hinted that the rules in regard to corporal punishment may be revised. It is whispered that in the next revision the Board of Education may consult with the principals as to what methods would be conducive of best results.

Here are opinions gathered from people intercepted in school work. The principals quoted represent every district from Telegraph Hill to Pacific Heights, from the center of town to the Mission, covering the various conditions which affect the question of corporal punishment in the schools.

Superintendent of Schools.

"Principals and teachers should employ other restraining influences, but if they prove ineffectual corporal punishment should be administered in a proper manner, and by that I mean on the palm of the hand. In every school there will appear occasionally cares which can be reached in no other way. Suspension from school, while it might with many be regarded as a humiliation and a disgrace, would be by others used as a vacation. Expulsion from school often means the destruction of the individual for future usefulness. Excluded from the discipline and instruction of the schoolroom, a boy who has demonstrated that he is to some extent incorrigible will very likely, given his freedom, contract vicious and idle habits, and good citizenship will be lost to the State. Therefore, I believe in the infliction of corporal punishment upon those who are not disposed to be controlled in any other manner.

"Discipline is like everything else; it is a business proposition. A teacher is born, not made. A firm, just person will request something done once, and if the offense be deliberately repeated it will not go unrebuked and corporal punishment must be resorted to at times.

"Humanitarianism is absolutely humbug. It is a silly sentimentalism that makes heroes of criminals and that encourages by mild treatment Iteration, of offense.

"Yes. I was punished in school - once. It was for truancy. I was a little fellow of 9 and had up to that time been in a private school. When put in the public school I was alarmed at the discipline and that was the cause of my absenting myself. The teacher had threatened to punish all who did not have a certain lesson at a given time, and, while I had it. I was afraid and stayed away. I was punished both at school and at home. I remember she used a big black walnut ruler, very long, very wide and very thick, and sympathetic playmates said she gave me twenty-five strokes on each hand. I didn't have time to count them, but I think it was a rather severe punishment for a little fellow. However, I did not resent the chastisement. It put me in a proper sense of humiliation and respect for law and I regard that teacher to-day with a great deal of affection."

President of School Board.

"I do most emphatically believe in corporal punishment, but think it should be used very sparingly. Of course, it should not be used any more than we should shoot people, but how safe would your property be or your life if there were no such thing as shooting? It is physical power that makes people behave themselves.

It should not be used as a means of keeping order, but as a power to prevent outrage. A teacher that cannot keep order without that means is a very poor teacher: but now and then there is an outbreak that makes corporal punishment necessary.

"I believe that 60, if not 75 per cent of our teachers, could maintain discipline without corporal punishment.

"I do not think teachers should have the privilege of punishing pupils. They might do it in a burst of passion, whereas the principal, who is free from the annoyance caused by the offense, is better able to judge, whether the case warrants such punishment. Young teachers are more severe than old ones, and my opinion is that women punish more than men.

"For girls the best punishment is suspension, and for most boys, but not every boy. When a child is suspended, he cannot return to school until the father or mother comes with him. This often means that the father must leave his business, which annoys him a little.' and he hears the truth about, the child's conduct in school.

"There is very little corporal punishment in the San Francisco schools. Seven to 900 cases in a year, with about 50,000 school children, is not a bad showing."


"I believe boys should be whipped, but not brutally whipped. It is not so much the severity of the whipping which does good as the humiliation it causes. I look back to a belting I once got and have never forgotten. I was whipped very brutally, and instead of looking up to the man who did it, I only think he was a brute.

"It was a peculiar affair, as I see it now. The teacher had told each one of us to write a letter at home and bring it to school. When I read mine, she said it was not my own work; that I had had help. I told her I had not, and she said to me. 'You lie." Boy like, I said 'You lie back. She sent for the principal, who is still in the department, and he gave me a beating which I felt I deserved no more than the teacher.

"I don't believe any good ever came from beating a boy brutally; but for those who prove incorrigible, there is no doubt about the necessity of corporal punishment. I think this should be restricted to blows on the hand with the rattan or strap. If it is right to take a boy and whip him until he is black and blue, then it would be just as right to go further than that, if he does not behave, and treat him still more brutally. Whipping on the hand has the proper moral effect and is not cruel."

Principal of Lincoln Grammar School.

"Well, yes, in certain cases corporal punishment is necessary; for instance, where a boy defies the authority of teachers and principal and sets himself above the law, as he can do in many ways.

"As for truancy, that" is an open question just now. It depends on whether you have the support of the parents. It doesn't do much good unless things are I made uncomfortable for the boy at both ends of the line. If his parents write, an excuse when I know the boy has been playing truant, whipping will not cure the boy of truancy.

"As to whether teachers should be allowed to punish, I would say some should and' some should not, and it is hard to draw the line. It is necessary for the vice principal to have authority to punish when he has charge of the boys in the yard, otherwise they would not respect his authority.

"No, indeed, I do not believe corporal punishment should be abolished. It was tried here once and we had a terrible time, and had to go back to it. Parents do not want it abolished and I know of no leaders in educational matters who advocate the abolishment of corporal punishment. There are people who have beautiful theories on the subject; but if we can govern without corporal punishment, why not govern without jails and penitentiaries?

Principal Pacific Heights Grammar School.

"In the ten years of my principalship in this school there has never been a case of corporal punishment. No child has been slapped, pinched or shaken.

"Firmness and kindness will accomplish what severity never would. I make truth the cornerstone of everything. I have the children understand that no matter what they do they should tell me the truth about it; then. I can excuse."

Principal of Mission Grammar

"There is about one boy in fifty that nothing but corporal punishment will reach. However, in five years at this school I have had but three cases. We punish once in a while to let them see we will do it if necessary, and the children are made to feel that whipping is the very worst thing that can happen. I think it loses its effect when administered too often.

"I do not think it would be wise to abolish corporal punishment, as it would give boys a feeling of 'They doesnt touch me. But I believe in few rules and in making children feel that any punishment is very serious. Of course, the teachers have a demerit system, and we keep an office book, and it is a very serious thing for a child to get his name in the office book. After the March vacation, we allow the children to work off the marks against them, and a child whose name remains on the, office book at the end of the term is deprived of his certificate. He is promoted, but has no certificate to take home with him until he works off his bad marks.

"We make a strong point of obedience, and the parents in this district co-operate with us in every way. Some parents deprive the children of privileges on Saturday and Sunday if they do not show a good report for the week. When parents propose to whip the child at home I advise against it, suggesting that they use some of the many ways they have of making the child feel that he has done wrong.

"We have very little truancy, and we leave that to the parent to correct. For tardiness, we have a stragglers' book, and it is accounted a bad thing to have one's name in that book. The three cases of corporal punishment I have had to report have been for rough conduct in the yard. It is hard for boys not to run and play in the yard, but we try to make them understand it is not because we do not want them to have fun, but rather as a matter of protection to them on account or the limited space.

Principal of Everett Grammar School

I do not think it would be wise to abolish corporal punishment. We would have to substitute something else that would not be of benefit to the child. The choice is between suspension, expulsion from school and corporal punishment. I do not resort to suspension, as I do not think it is efficacious. I believe children should be kept in school, and corporal punishment judiciously administered serves to keep many boys from the street.

"It is no pleasure to .any one to punish a child, and I think parents should be grateful to principals for not turning the boys out of school when they have the option of suspension and punishment.

"Cases of truancy I report to the parent, or if necessary, to the truant officer; but I sometimes punish for tardiness. There are many cases where parents ask us to punish the children; but if they do not wish it then we have to find some other way.

"I think corporal punishment is more necessary among smaller children. Above the sixth grade children have sense enough to know what they come to school for. There are some little girls that I think would be benefitted by corporal punishment.

"In the discretion of the principal it might be wise to give teachers authority to punish, and this is allowed in the lower grades; but teachers as a rule do not want the privilege. They prefer to let the principal do the whipping.

Most parents feel that while their children are in school they should be under the authority of teacher and principal. That is right. The school should have absolute authority in its own province; and by its not having this power many children are upon the street who should be in school."

Principal of Washington Grammar School.

"I believe in keeping corporal punishment down to a minimum. In this school, we average about thirty cases a month with between 500 and 600 boys. There are some boys benefitted by corporal punishment reasonably administered.

"However, I would be In favor of abolishing corporal punishment, let the consequences be what they may. I say this because mistakes are sometimes made in administering corporal punishment. One cannot always understand the disposition of the child, and there may be cases where punishment is remembered with bitterness in after years.

"Another bad feature of corporal punishment is that there are timid children in school who are frightened and terrified by the thought of it. Of course, we never punish in the presence of the class, but they know of it, and the timid child constantly fears he may do something that will cause him to be punished.

"I think discipline could be maintained without it because more responsibility would be thrown on the parents, and in time the thought of being turned out of school on account of tau conduct would have a deterrent influence on most boys

I believe in constant, persistent training in right doing. If there could be perfect uniformity in this from the lowest to the highest grade there would be little need of corporal punishment.

"I believe in corporal punishment only to correct some bad trait of disposition - not for the ordinary offenses that more boys commit. I very seldom punish for truancy. I try to have parents deal with that, and it is only at their request that I punish the truant. If tardiness is habitual I first notify the parents and to try to have them correct it. If that fails, I punish.

"I remember being punished twice in school, and it made me very indignant. Even now, I feel that the punishment was too severe for the offense. I was only 9 or 10 years old and when my name occurred in one of the sentences given the grammar class for parsing I laughed. For this I was whipped severely with a bunch of switches, after the fashion of those days. Another time I was whipped for fighting.

Principal of the Moulder Primary School.

"I do not believe in abolishing corporal punishment. There are a few boys who cannot be controlled in any other way yes, and there are some girls that deserve it too. In my school of over 600, I average two or three cases a month. These are for willful disobedience.

"For truancy? Never. For tardiness* Never To me it seems the height of folly to punish a boy for truancy, for in most cases truancy, as well as tardiness, is the fault of the parent. But where a boy is disobedient and defiant, the only remedy is whipping. Corporal punishment is more necessary with smaller boys than larger ones. You can appeal to the reason of older boys.

I would not favor giving teachers the power to punish and I do not think my teachers desire it. The children in our school are well bred, responsive and inclined to do right, and where such conditions exist all that is necessary is to make the school work interesting and there is little trouble with discipline

Acting Principal of the Clement Grammar School.

"I am and have, always been strongly opposed to corporal punishment. I do not believe in it at all, and I find that we get along very well without it.

"There are so many other ways of reaching a child. When one is reported to me for disorder, I appeal to him on the ground of his having broken a rule probably through thoughtlessness, but I let him plainly understand that if he returns to my office on a similar charge he will be dealt with more severely. By this I mean that he will be retained after school, given extra work, or that his parents will be sent for to talk the matter over. One of these methods usually has the desired effect, for we have the support of parents in dealing with the children.

"We have been asked by parents to punish their boys, but I always say I will try to reach the boys in some other way, and I do reach them in some other way for I am a strong enemy to corporal punishment.



Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

July 20 2011, 1:18 AM 

Amazing stuff KK! The amount of work you are putting into this must be enormous, but the results are fascinating and are an excellent feature of this estimable Forum.


A ban on spanking

July 20 2011, 5:17 AM 

The following are snippets, in random order, from a poem called A Ban on Spanking that is attributed to the now defunct Los Angeles Express newspaper. Note that the implements mentioned are paddles, shingles, slippers and hair brushes.

The poem is reproduced on page 284 of Will Carleton's Magazine Every Where Vol. XIX February, 1907 No. 6.



Page 284, col. 2 (snippets, correct order unknown)

A ban on spanking

With the folks who spank,
If the spud is needed,
Willie to command,
Let this rule be headed:
Never use your hand!

Put away the shingle

Put away the shingle,
And the hairbrush, too,
Instruments that tingle
Baby through and through,
Do not use the slipper,
For we have the word -

Doesn't do to whip her-
Spanking is absurd!

Put away the shingle-
When the boy is bad.
Do not use a single
Stick upon the lad
Never let him feel the

Put away the shingle,
When the boy you'd warm,
Just recall this jingle
Get wise and reform
There are times the lad'll
Not do as he is bid,
But suppress the paddle

Never let him feel the
Warmth that it will bring,
But go and conceal the
Horrid spanking thing!

Put away the shingle
Do not be a crank
Never intermingle

Put away the shingle,
But suppress the paddle -
Never spank the kid!

[Los Angeles Express.]


Spanking can be fatal

July 20 2011, 9:00 AM 

Do not do this at home


The Lewiston Morning Tribune

Lewiston, Idaho, Monday 2 September 1907


Boy Had Dynamite Cap In Hip Pocket Exploded and Mother's Fingers Torn Off

Sheboygan, Wis., Sept. 1. - Mrs. Fred Williams, living at Bear Point on Crooked lake, near this city, was severely injured and her seven-year-old son was fatally hurt when a dynamite cap in the boy's pocket exploded while the mother was spanking him. The boy had been watching his father using dynamite in blowing up stumps and had slipped one of the caps in his pocket. Mrs. Williams used a shingle. The first blow exploded the cap and tore a large hole in the boy's side. The mother lost two fingers and sustained other injuries.


The Ottawa Free Trader, 6 September 1907



Lad Had Dynamite Cap in His Hip Pocket When Parent Struck Him with Shingle.

Cheboygan, Mich., Sept. 2. - Mrs. Fred Williams, living at Bear Point, on Crooked lake, near this city, was severely injured, and her seven-year-old son was probably fatally hurt when a dynamite cap in the boy's hip pocket exploded while the mother was spanking him for a minor offense.

The little boy had been out in the field where his father was using dynamite to blow up stumps, and had slipped one of the percussion caps which Mr. Williams was using in his pocket. He later returned to the house, where his mother called him in to be punished for some childish misdemeanor. Mrs. Williams used a shingle as the instrument of punishment.

The first blow from the shingle exploded the cap in the boy's pocket and the explosion tore a large hole in his hip, from which he is believed to be dying. The mother lost two fingers and received a number of minor cuts about her face and body.


USA school history as seen in 1909

July 20 2011, 9:56 PM 

May contain OCR errors. Headings added and paragraphing changed. The problems 100+ years ago still pertain.


The American educational review: Volume 31

No. 1. October 1909, pages 29 - 35.

A brief account of ancient schools - Written AD 2300

By Carl Holliday, MA

Except page 32-

Schools managed by amateurs

It is a curious fact that members of school boards were then elected by popular vote, and not chosen by civil service examination, as is now the law. Some of these gentlemen were so ignorant as to cause even the school children to laugh at their mistakes! I found in a Tennessee newspaper of 1910 that one candidate for membership announced that he did not have much "book larnin" (knowledge gained from books), but that he had a lot of "horse-sense" (common sense) and would see that the children learned their three "R's" (reading, 'riting (writing), and `rithmetic).

No salary was given for serving on a school board. Think of it! Those in charge of what is now considered the most important department of government received absolutely no pay ! No educational qualification whatever was required. The only essential was popularity with the crowd ! The outcome of this may easily be conjectured.

Superintendents who had made a life study of education were considered fanatics and hobby-riders, and children's souls were dwarfed through the stubborn ignorance of these "popular" supervisors. As the office paid nothing, the members devoted but a few hours of each month to educational matters, and generally these brief periods were given up to haggling over financial affairs. I found in the newspapers of the early twentieth century a vast amount of scandal about these boards. Frequently, I noted, they were accused of getting a "rake-off" from publishing houses, desk-makers, architects, etc. All this may seem exceedingly strange to us today; for not many know that not until 2025 did the government take over the printing of all school books, and not until ten years later did it begin to furnish all building plans and materials at actual cost price.

Women employed because they were cheaper [Did they bring domestic style spanking with them?]

Owing to the low salary paid teachers - in 1900 it averaged but $25.00 a month in states south of the Mason and Dixon line - the vast majority of instructors were women; for married men could not maintain a family on the wages offered, while many women to secure "pin money" (money for luxuries, dainties, etc.) accepted seemingly without conscientious scruples - the miserably low remuneration.

During the first decade of the twentieth century the female teachers of New York City demanded higher wages; but, upon being warned by a professor of education that if decent salaries were granted, their places would be offered to men with families to support, they speedily dropped the matter, and the old miserly method continued until near the year 2000. At this time, however, the newspapers complained bitterly that the boys in the higher grades were becoming "sissy" (effeminate) and that feminine ideas and ideals were ruining the manhood of the nation; and a commission appointed by the government to investigate the subject presented such a drastic report that the various states raised salaries to so tempting a point that men returned to the profession. In the earlier days of this change men attempted to teach all grades, but made such fools of themselves in their efforts to teach the smaller children that the women gradually regained those classes where some imitation of mother-love is essential. Thus it has remained to this day.

Schools not designed to suit children

It may seem ridiculous and yet it is really true that in the twentieth century laws had to be made compelling children to go to school! Part of the resistance came from the parents, but most of it from the children themselves. Whereas the child of today loves the activities of education and looks upon the school as his second home, I find that the normal boy of four centuries ago dreaded and even hated the institutionl But have we not seen enough to warrant this feeling? One or two educators of the time ventured to say that if the school were made as pleasant as the woods and the rivers, the boy would not play "truant" (run away from school for a day) ; but such men were long looked upon as irrational enthusiasts. One glance at the curriculum of that century would cause the modern boy to run forever, and one day of it would probably make him a suicide.

In practically every school the studies were all "book-studies" and enormous tests of the memory. As indicated above, the pupils sat in hard desks four or five hours and told, not what they had discovered, but what they had read. History, geography, literature, science, mathematics the same question was asked, "What did the book say?" Many of the more normal children rebelled against this method, and these were known as "bad" boys and girls ; and such "bad" youth were beaten with tree switches until out of sheer pain, but not from conviction, they submitted to the unnatural and barbarous system. In only one city (New York) was it against the law for the teacher thus to punish children, and even there instructors frequently presented petitions to the school board, begging the privilege of giving the youngsters just a little spanking (vigorous paddling on the hips with the hand or a board). The board had the wisdom, however, to believe that if the methods were right the boy would be interested enough to do right, and the "privilege" was refused. At length it was discovered that the cramped position long maintained in thus sitting at a desk would make any natural creature restive or dull or vicious, and by the year 1975 all schools had adopted a curriculum in which each hour of mental work was followed by an hour of physical work, such as carving, moulding, gardening, etc. There was an astonishing decrease not only of misbehavior, but also of truancy, and I suppose there has not been a case of punishment or unnecessary absence in a hundred years.



Mentions of the paddle in domestic settings

July 20 2011, 10:03 PM 


Yankee Notions [Published in New York. A collection of whimsy, cartoons and amusing snippets]

Vol III. April 1854, No. 4, page 120.

"Georgiania! Georgiania! where's the butter paddle?"

"Tim's got it in the woodshed spanking Roxy Anne."

To what base uses do butter paddles come at last.



Reuben: his book, from plow shoe to patent leather with variations
[M. H. Pemberton], 1904

Page 103.

Now they do not eat with their knife - I mean put it into their mouth - and not one of them would pick their teeth at the table, unless they held a napkin up before their faces so no one could see them. The spanking paddle is now our churn paddle and the flint rocks are our match boxes no longer. The thing they once have saw they now have seen. Now, my sister, at the school I have referred to is something like your sister - of course ...


Internet tools for historical research

July 21 2011, 1:29 AM 

Some useful Search Tools

Google Books

Google News

Hathi Trust Digital Library
A partnership of major research institutions and libraries working to ensure that the cultural record is preserved and accessible long into the future.

Online Books
A website that facilitates access to books that are freely readable over the Internet

The Internet Archive
A US non-profit that was founded to build an Internet library. Its purposes include offering permanent access for researchers, historians, scholars, people with disabilities, and the general public to historical collections that exist in digital format.

America's historic newspapers
Selected newspapers from from 1836-1922. US Library of Congress

Making of America
A digital library of primary sources in American social history from the antebellum period (pre-Civil War, 1861-5) through reconstruction (1865-77). The collection is particularly strong in the subject areas of education, psychology, American history, sociology, religion, and science and technology.

Related threads in this forum

Classroom Management 1910 (Book details plus discussion of shingles)

The ideal paddle

Paddling - how it works (Science & pseudo science)

The school ferula


Did mums or uni students play a role in popularizing the paddle?

July 22 2011, 1:37 AM 

Paddles for washing clothes, making butter, stirring food, etc, were common household implements in earlier times, especially in rural areas. Other common implements included shingles (used for food preparation or chopping boards, or as plates), wooden spoons and hair and other brushes. Mothers minded the house, and looked after and disciplined the younger children. When spankings were needed, they would have used objects to hand for the purpose if something more than the hand was required. Such spankings may have migrated to schools when women took up teaching, and especially when they were in sole charge of single room schools with diverse aged students.

The notion or fiction that spanking with a paddle was a mild domestic sanction may have spread into the wider community, including university students, and the home guard (see newspaper excerpts below). It seems that there was much public interest in what the students got up to in Columbia, Missouri around 1920.

The word "spanking" is often used as a euphemism for something much harsher than a few slaps on the bottom with the open hand. Prison spankings in USA prisons in the decades before and after 1900 were extremely brutal.

The following newspaper extracts may contain OCR errors.

See also University student discipline, c 1919 above.



The Evening Missourian. (Columbia, Mo.), March 06, 1918, Page 3


Rastus was a small Negro boy whose sooty completion gleamed when the sun shone directly upon it. His mother had given him the weekly washing of the Jones family to deliver and had warned him to deliver it quickly. But Rastus loitered on the way. He was ten "chinies" to the good when the boom of thunder in the west startled him so that he snatched up his marbles grabbed the tongue of his red wagon and ran frantically down the road toward the Joneses, his wagon swaying from side to side and threatening every moment to overturn and bring another paddling on the already worn trousers.

The speed of Rastus brought the clothes to Mrs. Jones before the rain began to fall. Half way back and huge drops began to sprinkle from the swiftly moving clouds. Rastus stopped, rolled his eyes up at the clouds, pulled from his pocket the trusty and never falling charm the foot of a rabbit caught under a hay stack last winter and shook it at the sky "Doan yo rain no mo" he commanded with a serious wag of his head "Doan yo rain no mo" and he hurried homeward arriving in time to escape the shower and his mothers paddle.


The Evening Missourian, October 21, 1918, page 4, col. 1


Home Guard Members Get Lesson on Hike North of Town.


On Guard Duty, They Permit Corporal to Take Their Rifles

Five members of the Columbia Home Guard learned, probably for life yesterday on the company's hike to the oil well five and a half miles north west of town, that a soldier on guard must not give up his rifle even to an officer, according to Lieutenant I. C Adams ,

Seven members of the company were detailed to guard the camp when the old well was reached. The commanding officer decided to test the guards' knowledge of military rules so he sent a corporal around to each of them to ask to inspect their guns. Five of the seven guards handed their guns over to the corporal and he kept them, thus leaving the guards on duty without weapons. A relief was sent out to take their places and when those who had been guarding came in, the officer asked for their guns. When the told how they had parted with them, they were court-martialed.

A trial was held and the offenders were sentenced to be shot at sunrise this morning. Upon the strong plea of one of the guilty ones that sunrise was too early to get up to be shot, the sentence was changed to a paddling, which was administered immediately.

The day was spent in learning extended order drill. Dinner and supper were prepared in camp. The Home Guard company has rented the old armory at Tenth and Broad way for the winter. The company now numbers about eighty members. Practically all of them have uniforms. A recent attempt to recruit enough men to form another company failed.

[The above incident occurred during WW1 when the USA was suffering heavy casualties.]

[The University of Missouri was founded in 1839 in Columbia, Missouri. It was the first public institution of higher education west of the Mississippi River. Students in the USA students are commonly classified as freshman, sophomore, junior and senior depending upon their year.]


The Evening Missourian, November 20, 1918, page 2, col. 1,

The Campus Rules

Editor, the Missourian:

The students in the University of Missouri are indebted to Major Gordon and Captain Hill for their willingness to co-operate with the students in the re-establishment of the former rules of the Campus. In the past, it has been the privilege of certain departments to assume the guardianship of the East Campus and West Campus. The violations of the rules, while they may have been punished largely for the love of the exercise of the paddle, have been handled in a manner which has been highly satisfactory when viewed from the standpoint of results. But with the establishment of the S. A. T. C unit, the respect of the student body for the traditions of the past waned and transgressions became more and more frequent. This may have been the effect of the disorder occasioned by the reorganization of student life, or, it may have been due to example set by the younger officers who were not acquainted with the traditions of the campus and Mounds. Whatever be the cause, the result has been to the detriment of the appearance of the grounds.

We realize the need of a separate drill ground and the necessity of using the West Campus as such. For this we have no reason to blame the students or the military department. It is the useless and avoidable practice of "cutting across the campus" and scattering of trash that is to be regretted. All students may aid in the maintenance of the traditions by avoiding such practices. Members of the S. A. T. C. may aid by refraining from getting on the Quadrangle except when fulfilling the duties necessarily connected with their military units.

We hope that it will be unnecessary to revert to the practice of force to maintain the traditions. Let each person concerned take it upon himself or herself to respect the traditions that have so long held. In so doing, we will not only aid in the appearance of the badly used grounds, but build the basis of a respect that will assure the continuance of the traditions when the present military necessity is past.



The Evening Missourian, November 22, 1918, page 1, col. 2.


One Called Off Because no Witness Could Be Found

Students in the College of Agriculture paddled a youth at noon, after holding court on the steps of the Agricultural Building. The defendant and his "lawyers" were not able to convince the crowd that he was not guilty of walking on the campus grass.

A paddling by the students in the School of Engineering took place at 2 o'clock on the West Campus, but another one planned by the students in the same school was called off because no witness to the alleged offense could be found.


The Evening Missourian. June 05, 1919, Page 3, col. 3.


But Russell Trembley Got Over That Before the Finish.

Russell Trembley, a freshman in the University, got more pleasure from a paddling administered by the Engineering students yesterday than a victim usually does. Trembley broke the rule that permits only senior Engineers to walk on the upper mounds around the Columns by taking pictures there Sunday afternoon.

Trembley appeared for his punishment yesterday with a pair or track shoes under one arm and a camera under the other. He donned the shoes before the waiting Engineers, turned his camera over to a friend with the request that he snap a few pictures as he ran around. He said that he would like to keep them for his yearbook. He started the gauntlet with a broad grin. But some of his good humor had vanished at the finish.


The Evening Missourian, September 12, 1919, Page 2, col. 2.


Three Students Run Gauntlet for Violating Campus Rules

Students of the School of Engineering started their 1919-20 campaign against violators of campus rules at noon today when nearly two hundred men, armed with paddles, formed a circle around the Columns and forced three students to run the gauntlet. Robert Edmonston, a senior in the School of Business and Public Administration, was the first to feel the sting of the paddles. Walking across the campus was his offense. Charles Erbs and Frank Mefford, both freshmen in the School of Engineering, were the other victims. Erbs was paddled for trespassing on the campus, while Mefford committed a graver offense by walking across the mounds.

Hundreds of students watched the activities from the campus walks and the steps of Academic Hall. The majority of the onlookers were freshmen.


The Evening Missourian, September 22, 1919, page 5, col. 2

Sophomores Out After Missing Candidates

Sophomores with paddles appeared on Rollins Field Saturday afternoon to do their part toward rounding up certain freshmen whose presence on the freshman football squad is needed. According to Coach Woody, twenty or thirty freshmen who should be out working with his squad every day are missing and he intends that such shall not be the case much longer. The sophomores, with lists of names, promised the freshman coach that his missing would-be Tigers would be found and returned to him early this week.


The Evening Missourian, September 24, 1919, page 1, col. 4.


Vote to Continue paddling for Walking Across the Campus.

A vote to uphold one old tradition at least was registered by the School of Journalism at a student mass meeting last night. The question submit ted to the students who met in Switzler Hall was whether or not the Engineers should continue to guard the West Campus and to punish those who walked across the greensward. Considering it as a matter of destroying or letting stand one of the old traditions of the University, the journalists voted 33 to 12 in favor of the Engineers, two men voting to allow all University janitors to take part in the paddling.

The meeting was called at the request of the Student Senate which is asking all schools and colleges of the University to answer certain questions regarding paddling of University students.

Two students in answering the questions asked, suggested that the number of paddles used be limited to 3,000.

The result of the votes in other schools will be put with the results from the School of Journalism, and the committee appointed by the Student Senate will draft a set of rules accordingly. After these have been approved, by the senate they will be sent to the discipline committee of the University for final sanction. Until the matter is settled, the Engineers will have full control.


The Evening Missourian, October 22, 1919, page 2, col. 5

[...] Football men are to receive complimentary tickets. Regret was expressed that these men, on account of training, must leave the party early. Twelve men who didn't show up at the Ag meeting were paddled at noon today on the Ag Campus. Those whose names were posted on the "paddling list" and did not appear to be paddled will be paddled later and thrown in the pond on the State Farm, according to the paddling committee.


The Evening Missourian, October 22, 1919, page 6, col. 5.

School of Law Is Against Paddling

Abolition of paddling was recommended at the mass meeting of the School of Law yesterday afternoon. They favor some modified form of paddling to be directed by the Student Council and Student Senate. Confidence in the Senate and Council to deal with paddling properly was expressed. V. P. Crowe was elected yell leader for the School of Law.


The Evening Missourian, February 05, 1920, page 5, col. 4.

Paddled On His Birthday

"Spare the rod and spoil the child" was the slogan of twenty huskies who lined up for slab duty In Room 11 at the Y.M.C.A. Saturday night. When the struggle had subsided, twenty-three ruthless, stinging wallops had been registered and Paul Bennett was well started on his next annual age celebration. Before the slabmen were dismissed from duty, the chairman announced the next official occasion would take place at the same time and place next Wednesday night but with an additional membership. Mr. Bennett also received several gifts.


The Evening Missourian, April 01, 1920, page 1, col. 5.


Students to Vote on Measure Prohibiting Groups From Enforcing Rules.

The 1920 student election will hold the center of the stage tomorrow for all undergraduates of the University of Missouri.

Added interest was aroused late today when it was learned that the students would be asked to vote upon an amendment to the Student Constitution prohibiting paddling or other forms of punishment of students except by members of the school and college in which the victim is enrolled. Heretofore the students In the College of Agriculture and the School of Engineering have punished violators of campus rules, especially unwritten laws, against walking on the grass.

The members of the Student Council and the Student Senate have known of the amendment for two weeks, but before today. It was not generally known by the students.

The amendment is as follows:

"(a) It shall be unlawful for any group or combination of students to establish or set up any rule or regulation governing the acts or conduct of the student body as a whole, or members thereof, as such.

"(b) Furthermore, It shall be unlawful for any group or combination of students to enforce as against the student body as a whole, any rule, regulation or custom pertaining to or affecting the student body as a whole.

"(c) Furthermore, It shall be unlawful for any group or combination of students to punish or attempt to punish any student for any infraction of any rule, regulation or custom pertaining to the student body as a whole, whether such rule, regulation or custom be an existing and authorized rule, regulation or custom, or one established, or setup in violation of paragraph (a) of this amendment",

Other amendments deal with the qualifications of members of the Student Council and with the filling of vacancies among the student officers.

The polls will be open from 8 o'clock until 3 o'clock.



The Evening Missourian, April 03, 1920, page 1, col. 4

[Student election results]

Eldean is student president by 268 [votes]
paddling is upheld

Constitutional Amendment No. 2. (Regulating paddling)
For, 654.
Against, 1,487.


The Evening Missourian, April 09, 1920, page 1, col. 6.


5 Rocheport Negros Settle Trouble in Circuit Court

Five Rocheport Negroes on trial for paddling another who claims to be the strongest man in that region, sweat in the cool Circuit Court room today. John Straw said was the strongest man in the neighborhood. About three weeks ago, five blacks turned him across a spool of wire and gave it to him until he cried "enough."

Those who paddled John were Ed Boone, Isidore Philips, Isidor Brodder, Robert Payton and Willie Burroughs. The court fined each one $10 and his share of the court expenses.



July 22 2011, 4:13 AM 

Spank (verb): To hit, especially a child, with the open hand on the buttocks, usually as a punishment. The word possibly is derived from the sound made by a hand applied to the buttocks.

When did the word spank start to be used as a euphemism for much more harsh punishments?

See also above A dictionary of American English on historic principles and Dialectic mentions of the paddle.

None of the following from 100+ years ago record the use of spank or spanking as a euphemism. There are some more mentions of the paddle.



A Glossary Words and Phrases Usually Regarded as Peculiar to the United States
By John Russell Bartlett.
Boston: Little, Brown and Company. 1859.

Page 89
COBB. A blow on the buttock. Wright, in his Dictionary of Obsolete and Provincial English, explains the word as follows: "A punishment used among seamen for petty offences or irregularities, by bastinadoing the offender on the posteriors with a cobbing-stick or pipe-staff."

Should any negro be found vending spirituous liquors, without permission from his owner, such negro so offending shall receive fifteen cobbs or paddles for every such offence, from the hands of the patrollers of the settlement or neighborhood in which the offence was committed. Cherokee Phoenix, April 10, 1828.

Page 307
PADDLE. A wooden instrument with which negroes are punished, shaped like the paddle of a canoe, with holes bored through the blade. See Cobb.

[SPANK - no entry]




Glossary of supposed Americanisms

Collected by Alfred Langdon Elwyn, Philadelphia, 1859

Page 108
Spanghew, to throw with violence. (Brockett.) We introduce this word merely to bring forward another. I know of no such word, but we have one, spank, to slap, that I do not find anywhere. It means a beating with the palm of the hand, in the way and mode practiced by mothers on their children. "He got such a spanking!" "Charles, Charles ! don't do that, or I'll spank you." Moor gives this word as in use in Suffolk, in the sense of slap, more especially in the maternal mode. I think I have heard spanking applied to horses, also slapping; as, a pair of spanking big blacks, or slapping grays. It means something gay, spirited. Bailey has spank, and derives it from a Saxon word; Britton has spankey, showy; and Forby, spanking, conspicuous, showy.



A new dictionary of Americanisms

being a glossary of words supposed to be peculiar to the United States and the dominion of Canada.

By Silvia Clapin, New York, 1900

Page 298
Paddle. A wooden instrument, shaped like a paddle, and used to punish boys and negroes. Hence, also, to paddle, meaning to thrash, to punish.

[Spank - no entry]


A dictionary of modern slang, cant, and vulgar words

used at the present day in the streets of London; the universities of Oxford and Cambridge; the Houses of Parliament; the dens of St. Giles and the palaces of St. James.

John Camden Hotten, London 1860.

Page 222
SPANK, a smack, or hard slap.

[Paddle - no entry]


Spanking as a euphemism

July 22 2011, 8:36 AM 

When did the word spank start to be used as a euphemism for much more harsh punishments?

I have searched Google News archives for prison + spanking and found no hits for prison spankings before the notorious Elmira reformatory scandal erupted in 1884. Thereafter, the combination is much more common. It seems likely that warden Brookway used the term to make the severe corporal punishment sound more palatable to himself and others, and to indicate it was applied to the buttocks.

[linked image]

Many of the hits involve OCR errors (e.g. speaking = spanking) or spanking in the sense of "new" or "travelling fast", or the two words appear on the same page in separate unrelated articles.


1890 "spanking" with leather sole

July 22 2011, 9:08 AM 


The Climax, December 24, 1890, Supplement, page 4, col. 6.


The Head of Reformatory Introduces an Effectual Remedy for Insubordination

As is well known, Major Robert W McClaughry recently warden of the State penitentiary at Joliet is now the successful warden of the State reformatory at Hunting in Pa. He has conceived and adopted a new system of punishment for such institutions which will doubtless provoke extended discussion at the next worlds prison congress. One day, says the Chicago Blade, the sharp-eyed Major detecting one of the inmates in violation of the rules of the shoe shop picked up a leather sole at hand and treated the astonished offender to a thorough and impressive spanking. The effect was so wholesome and touching that it came to the Major as an inspiration that he had stumbled across the ideal nineteenth century system of punishment.

He adopted the process at once and is charmed with its success. For fear that exaggerated reports of the punishment might reach the public and accusations of undue severity follow, he concluded to confer with the highest authorities in relation to it. He interviewed the Governor of Pennsylvania and explained the plan and its workings to him. The Governor was convulsed with laughter and said "Major, I heartily congratulate you on having struck the keynote and I assure you that the good people of this commonwealth will sustain you in this war measure. I promise you the backing of the National Guard if necessary in your poetical plan of spanking reformation into your rebellious subjects." He then called upon the chairman of tho State Board of Charities, an old time Quaker, and explained the situation to him. The Quaker smiled broadly and said "Major thee deserves thanks and should go on with thy noble work. It reminds me of my sainted mother who has been in Heaven many a year. It was her favorite method of correction and I tell thee Major she did it well. It is proper and humane and I approve of thee handsomely spanking the boys into submission and obedience."

The Major returned to his reformatory thoroughly convinced that his improved process of punishment would receive general approbation. So now the weekly spanking school is a feature of the institution and the Major's strong right arm wields the avenging leather. The result is quite beneficial and the in fraction of the rules are less frequent and flagrant as the inmates have a wholesome dread of the shame disgrace and stinging pain of the Major's orthodox spanks.


Fraternity paddles

July 23 2011, 12:24 AM 

There seems to be five, possibly overlapping or derivative paddle traditions in the USA - slave, prison, fraternity, domestic and school.

If we cannot find the origin of the school paddle can we get any sights from attempting to determine the origin of the fraternity paddle?

A number of newspaper reports of fraternity use of the paddle appear above. Here are some more:



The Saint Paul Globe., November 27, 1896, page 8, col. 5


Greek Letter Candidates Initiated With Paddles, Ducking Tubs, Etc.

COLUMBUS, 0hio, Nov. 26. - With the consent of Warden Coffin, of the state prison, eight students of the law school of the state university were initiated into a Greek letter fraternity with experiences in the methods of punishment used in the prison. The initiates were given a touch of every kind of disciplining apparatus, including the ducking tub, the paddling machine, the thumb chains and the humming bird, after being brought to the prison blindfolded in cabs.



The Columbia Evening Missourian., January 11, 1922, Last Edition, page 2, col. 1


Several freshmen are due to eat their meals in the near future off the mantel; doing so not as a matter of etiquette but as of a matter of comfort. The foregoing prophecy is based on the fact that the Duncan Planning Mill of Columbia has sold to freshmen twenty-fire paddles, in round numbers, since the winter term began.

J. B. Hourigan, paddle expert of the Duncan Planning Mill, has made paddles for university freshmen for the last fourteen years. To him a well turned paddle is a thing of beauty, and to the upper classmen wielder it is a joy forever. Freshmen, however, take a different attitude toward the matter.

'"The first paddle I ever made was fourteen years ago," said Hourigan. "It was made of Birchwood and was designed by A. T. Duncan, who has been dead for a number of years. At that time there were letters stamped upon the paddles to identify them. Each fraternity had a different insignia. We have made paddles every year since, but have never changed the design, as they seem to give the utmost satisfaction. Instead of Birchwood, we now use hard pine, which seems to serve the purpose equally as well.

"Whenever I sell a paddle," continued Hourigan. "I always ask the purchaser if he would like me to bore a hole in it near the end. In every case the freshman has informed me that such an improvement was wholly necessary. No doubt there are many men who have graduated from the University and made a name for themselves, who can testify to the mechanical perfection of our paddles."

American Way

Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

July 23 2011, 1:48 AM 

The spanking paddle machine in reformatories.


American Way

260 pound student

July 25 2011, 3:23 AM 

Funny paddling story. I hope I'm not intruding. I wouldn't be tracking these stories down without your help. Maybe by accident I might repeat one you have posted. I'll try not to. Although repetitive I found it a delightful account though my funny bone may not be others.



A non-punishment school paddle

August 8 2011, 1:40 AM 

[The way things were.]


The Anderson Intelligencer. July 29, 1875, page 4, col. 1 (South Carolina)

Old-Field Schools in Olden Times

Ex-Gov. Perry, in his very interesting "Reminiscences," written for the Greenville Enterprise and Mountaineer, gives the following truthful and life-like description of the "old-field schools" of his young days, and which were common even at a later period. The fidelity of the picture will be recognized by many of our readers:

"I have a very vivid remembrance of my old-field schools, although sixty-four years have passed away, since I began to go to them, and fifty-four since I left them. They were all pretty much alike. There was a log house, twenty feet square, built near a spring, and frequently in the woods instead of an old field. In one end of the building there was a huge fire place, extending almost across that end of the building. The chimney was proportionably large. There were great cracks between the logs, which let in the light, and rendered it unnecessary to have more than one window, which was about one foot and a half square. Sometimes the cracks were chinked in the winter, but the chinking was always knocked out in the summer. This made the school room airy, as well as light. There was a desk in one corner for the accommodation of the teacher and keeping books and papers. On this desk there were always a large hickory switch about three feet long, and brought into effective use every day, and sometimes every hour in the day. The proper use of this switch seemed to be as necessary to the pedagogue as his learning.

Mr. Petigru went to school to Dr. Waddell, at Willington, who, it is said, had great experience, as well as sleight of-hand, in the use of the switch or hickory, and after he graduated at the South Carolina College, he taught school himself for a short period, and said that if he had continued much longer than he really thought he could have equalled his old preceptor in the dexterous use of the switch. It is remarkable that such a barbarous practice should have been universally tolerated by parents and practiced by school teachers. An ill-natured pedagogue gets in the habit of flogging his boys, and does it very often to gratify his own bad feelings severely for the most trivial offences, when a word of reproof from the teacher would have had a much better effect on the boy. It is said there are two ways of governing, one by fear and the other by love. The latter never was resorted to by school masters in my boyish days. I hope there has been a change in this respect since that time. I have seen boys whipped in school until they did not seem to regard it all, and it had no effect in improving their behaviour if they had been treated kindly by the teacher, and gently reproved, it would have had a much better effect.

There was a plank or puncheon on one side of the school house for the scholars to write on, instead of a table or desk. There were benches all around the room for them to sit on, and sometimes when the school was large, there would be two or three across the middle of the room. The girls were generally seated on one set of benches, and the boys on another. In learning our lessons we would repeat them as loud, as we pleased in school, and sometimes when all were intent on learning, the school house was a perfect Babel.

At the door hung a paddle or stick, which everyone had to carry out with him when he left the room and no one dared to get out until he returned. This badge was seldom hanging at the door idly. As soon as one returned with it another took it. But all had first to ask leave of absence from the school master. If we did not know how to pronounce a word we went to the teacher with a finger on the word, and he gave the proper pronunciation. Very often this was done out of pure mischief or idleness. The larger boys who were learning Arithmetic or Grammar, were permitted to go out of the school house to get their lessons. [...]


Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

August 12 2011, 3:32 AM 

The Judicial Wooden Paddle


The Bourbon News (Paris, Kentucky), May 25, 1897, Page 8, col 2

Scintillations. An interesting Jumble of New and Comment.

Six young toughs who tried to throw a Maysville street car off the track by filling a frog with rocks were severely swatted with an oak paddle in police court Friday morning by order of the Judge.

[A frog is a component of a railway switch or points that allows tracks to join or cross.]


Daily Public Ledger, May 22, 1897, page 1


Six of Maysville's Young Toughs Given a Deserved Blistering.

Superintendent Gray will not be bothered by the six young toughs who so successfully "canned" a streetcar Wednesday night and then tried to wreck it by filling a "frog" full of rocks.

Yesterday morning the police officers were busy bringing in the ones who were interested in the sport, and by noon the following well known youths lined up for trial before Judge Wadsworth:

Allen Shepherd,
Rock Shepherd,
Jack Shepherd,
Waldo Gilbert,
Charles Plummer,
Morris Reagan.

Those boys have been up before the Judge before, and finding that rock quarries, jails and chains had no terror for them, an elegant white oak paddle with a two-feet blade, guaranteed to raise four blisters to the lick, was introduced to them.

Their parents were sent for, who very readily gave their consent.

Officers McDowell and Purnell were selected to wield the oak, and they were instructed to smash the tough element clear out of the boys, without regard to the blisters they would raise or the feelings they would fracture.

The Officers and boys retired to the place of punishment - the hall adjoining the Courtroom - and the work was begun. The boys were told to "strike a posish," while the paddle-wielders struck the posish, and every lick brought forth a scream as long as a clothesline and as loud as a Comanche.

The next time these young toughs are brought up on a misdemeanor charge they will be run through the sausage mill.

[Posish = position, pose or stance]



Daily Public Ledger, July 26, 1900, page 1.

Monday morning a lady residing on Forest avenue accompanied two young ladies who had been visiting her to the 5:15 train and forget to lock the door to her residence. When she went back someone had been there ahead of her and stolen some money. Later in the day two little boys were found sick, and when questioned admitted having stolen the money and bought some candy and cigars and tobacco. They were given a splendid introduction to an oak paddle.



New York Tribune., October 22, 1906, page 1, col 2.

(By Telegraph to The Tribune. ]

Freeland, Penn., Oct. 21. - From the courtroom in the City Hall to his home, one block distant, Reuben Kresge, arrested for fighting, was flogged by Burgess George Hartman today. Kresge had the choice of going to jail for thirty days or the flogging. Hartman used an oak paddle and his blows caused the culprit to howl from pain.



The Saint Paul Globe (Minn), August 03, 1898, Page 3.


A Kangaroo Court Has a Busy Session - Offenders of All Kinds Tried and Punished - Gov. Clough and Party Visit the Grounds - Lieut. Hubbard Going to Jacksonville.

The weather man took command at Camp Ramsey yesterday and handled things his own way. It was too cold to make resting comfortable, and a general dumpy feeling pervaded the Fifteenth. The clear-ups in the afternoon were taken advantage of, and every company turned out for some sort of a drill. The machinery sheds were occupied by such of the companies as were on the ground early enough. These had loading and firing practice and arm work in comparative shelter.

[. . .]

The only thing to relieve the monotony of the dreary day was the organization of a kangaroo court by Company B. For a first session they had an overflowing docket. Sheriffs O'Brien and Burns were the hardest worked officials in the regiment. Batch after batch of criminals, charged with every crime on the kangaroo calendar, from being "busted" to slowness at meals, were brought before his honor, Judge Jack Murphy. The judge seemed to view life through smoked glasses. Everything had such a dark hue; the unfortunate prisoner got the worst of close decisions. The books show that 103 unfortunates were before the court; there were none with "charge not proven," as the Scots say. Punishments were administered with a large pine paddle, men's size, and the lord high executioner knew his business well. Several from other companies than B were gathered in on grave charges. Three company cooks, among the number, were charged with not dishing up grub fast enough. They went back to their duties rubbing their anatomy and with elastic step. The elasticity will remain with them probably.

[. . .]


[It is clear that the punishment paddle was well known in at least some American states 100 years ago.]


California paddle-free?

August 29 2011, 3:14 AM 


Sacramento Daily Union, Volume 18, Number 112, 1 January 1884


The regular monthly meeting of the City Board of Education was held last evening ; all the members present, and President Tracy in the chair.

The minutes of the last meeting and the subsequent special meetings were read and approved.

In accordance with the notice by Mr. Hancock for amendment of Rule 70, in relation to corporal punishment, the same was amended to read as follows :

Corporal punishment must not be inflicted except in cases of willful disobedience or insolence of pupils to the teacher, nor must it be inflicted in the presence of the other pupils, unless absolutely necessary, and not without due notice that punishment would be inflicted for the repetition of a former offense, or one of a similar character, and under no circumstances shall a pupil be punished in a cruel or inhuman manner ; and no other instrument than a rattan switch or leather strap shall be used, nor anyother be allowed in the school-room, either to punish or intimidate, and all cases of such punishment shall be reported monthly to the Superintendent.

The amendment to the rule consists of the insertion of the words* given in italic.


Daily Alta California [San Francisco], Volume 84, Number 136, 16 May 1891 (page 7, column 6)


Proposed Amendment of Board ot Education of Rules.

School Director Hartley Desires a Very Radical Chance in the Mode of Indicting Punishment.

School Director Harney has introduced the following proposed amendment to the rules of the Board of Education regarding corporal punishment. The matter will probably be discussed at the next meeting of the Board:

Whenever for the maintenance of discipline the corporal punishment of a pupil seems necessary to the teacher, said teacher shall immediately report the fact to the Principal or Vice-Principal of the school, detailing, in writing the character and circumstances of the alleged offense.

Within a reasonable time after the receipt of the the teacher's complaint the offending pupil shall be summoned into the presence of the Principal or Vice-Principal and interrogated by him or her relative to said complaint. If at the close of tbe investigation thus commenced the Principal or Vice-Principal is firmly convinced of the culpability of the pupil corporal punishment may be administered, but only in accordance with the following conditions:

The Principal, or in his or her absence the VicePrincipal, shall, before indicting said punishment. notify and require the presence as a witness to it of a teacher in the School Department, and in no case shall any punishment be administered unless in the presence ot a competent witness or witnesses.

Pupils shall be punished only on the palm of the hand or hands, the strokes to be given by Principals or Vice -Principals with a leather strap, which shall be made after a model placed in the office of the Board of Education.

Punishment must never be excessive, cruel nor inhuman, but, on the contrary, most always be administered in degree of moderation, regulated by the impartial judgment and wise discretion of Principals and Vice-Principals.

In the event of a refusal to submit to the mode of punishment herein prescribed, pupils in each and every instance will incur the penalty of suspension for a period of at least twenty consecutive school days.

All cases of corporal punishment shall be reported, as soon as practicable after their occurrence, to the Superintendent by Principals or Vice-Principals, whose reports must show the names, ages and bodily conditions of all oupils punished, giving also a detailed statement in each case of the cause of the punishment, the time of its infliction, its degree of severity and the name of the witness or witnesses present.

Any Principal or Vice-Principal who administers corporal punishment. to a pupil or pupils in the school department in a mode contrary to that herein prescribed, shall be liable to an investigation, and. If tried and proved guilty by the Board of Education, may be expelled.

American Way

Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

September 9 2011, 6:28 AM 

While dimensions of paddle is widespread in regulating paddles there seems to be the mention of soft pine as early as 1931. New York Times mentioned it in a pay article in August of 1931. Oddly, it took an Australian source to find a mention in Pennsylvania of soft pine in 1931 as well. Perhaps that December story is relaying the August story of the NYT. In another thread, ideal paddle, the advisability of pine was discouraged because of its tendency to splinter. THe regulation of the type of wood is quite common today. The second link speaks of a cooling off period that I have strongly advocated as opposed to the divine right of teacher to paddle in any state of mind deemed appropriate.




Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

September 9 2011, 11:02 AM 

Hi American Way,

The point about pine is well made. Yes it is sifter but it often splits , and that can obviously be nasty. I understand if you use pine you must regularly replace the paddle as it dries out, shrinks and then splits along the grain . thus splitting even occurs when coated in yacht varnish or similar . This is why some teachers 'bind' their paddles with tape , again not a good idea .However , an oak ( even if not black oak from Arkansas happy.gifhappy.gifhappy.gif) paddle will last , as I have seen some with more than 25 years use behind them ! however , oak is more dense and has to be used with care , cf Renee's suggestions for restricting swing, free hand in the lower back etc .

Never, never , never , paddle in anger. If you are angry get someone else to do it !



September 9 2011, 9:12 PM 

There are more than 100 species of pine. What species is used for making paddles in the USA?

Pinus radiata (native to California) is used here for house construction, furniture, etc. The timber (lumber) varies in quality but it is hard to imagine a paddle made from it splitting or breaking in normal use.

American Way

Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

September 9 2011, 10:04 PM 

KK I tend to agree with you about the pine.


More non-mentions of the paddle in US schools

September 13 2011, 9:19 PM 

From the beginning of time, or at least from the beginning of compulsory education, school authorities have been claiming that CP is rarely used, and much less used than formerly. These claims were clearly unduly optimistic.

The following reports from 1914, 1916, 1920 and 1935 are of interest more from what is not discussed than for what is discussed. Few report the implement used, suggesting it is not a concern at the time. When the implement is mentioned it is not the paddle, with one exception.

The following text may contain OCR errors.



Board of Education of the City of St. Louis
Official Report

ST. LOUIS, MO., OCTOBER 13, 1914.

Pages 306-310


Mr. J. P. Harper, of the Committee on Instruction, submitted the following report on behalf of that Committee:

To the Board of Education of the City of St. Louis, Mo.


Your Committee has carefully examined, section by section, the Superintendents report, and approves all the recommendations contained therein.


Petition from George E. Dieckman, Chairman Executive Committee Humane Society of Missouri: In view of the natural public interest in the question raised by this petition, your Committee has given very deliberate consideration to it and thinks it wise to make a detailed report for the information of the public.

The petition is as follows:

"In the name of progress rather than humanity, I ask that you consider the abolishment of corporal punishment in the public schools of St. Louis, thus discarding methods in vogue in the mediaeval ages, and keeping our schools abreast of the times."

Mr. Dieckman submits with his petition his letter of inquiry addressed to superintendents of schools in other cities and the replies of those superintendents. [Bias is likely! Mr. Dieckman is likely to have approached only those who provided support for his views. Further, the practices common in large schools are likely to have been more progressive than elsewhere.] His letter is as follows:

1. "I write for the purpose of ascertaining if corporal punishment is permitted in the public schools of your city.

2. "If it is not permitted, what form of punishment is substituted, and is it a success?

3. "Do you believe the public schools can be successfully conducted without corporal punishment?

4. "Any information you can give us on this subject will be greatly appreciated."

The answers of the Superintendents to this inquiry were as follows:

From E. L. Thurston, Superintendent of Schools, District of Columbia

"In reply to your letter of June 16, 1914, I quote Rule 30 of the rules of the Board of Education covering corporal punishment:

"The avoidance of corporal punishment, as far as may be with a due regard to obedience on the part of the pupils, is enjoined on all teachers. Each case of corporal punishment with the reason therefor, shall be reported promptly by the teacher in charge of the school and forwarded, through the principal and supervising principal, to the superintendent.' "

"Corporal punishment is very seldom inflicted in the Washington schools. Where it has seemed necessary to resort to it, it has not been severe. We discourage it on the ground that it is almost never necessary, but we have not been ready thus far to abolish it absolutely.

From L. R. Alderman, Superintendent of Schools, Portland, Oregon

1. "Yes.

3. "Yes.

"There is very little corporal punishment in the schools of Portland."

From Frank B. Cooper, Superintendent of Schools, Seattle, Washington

1. "Yes

3. "I do not believe in prohibition of it, though it may be little used.

"I believe it is a mistake to prohibit corporal punishment in schools by legislation. It is better to put checks upon its undue or unwarranted use. We have very little corporal punishment in the Seattle schools, but we would need to do other things more disastrous if it were entirely forbidden. There are forms of punishment much more reprehensible, even though less disapproved."

From R. H. Webster, Deputy Superintendent, San Francisco, California

"Under the rules of the Board of Education corporal punishment may be inflicted upon boys in the elementary schools of this city, but not on girls.

"Experience has demonstrated that corporal punishment must be permitted. Some principals do not inflict corporal punishment during the year, but, as one of these remarked to me three weeks ago, it is very likely the knowledge that the punishment can be inflicted if necessary, places the minds of certain would-be disturbers in such, a frame that the punishment is unnecessary."

From H. S. Weet, Superintendent of Schools, Rochester, N.Y.

"In answer to your recent letter let me say that corporal punishment is permitted in the public schools of our city. It may be inflicted by the principal only and then in the presence of a witness. Reports of all cases of corporal punishment are to be made at once to the superintendent of schools.

"I believe most emphatically that public schools can be successfully conducted without corporal punishment. The fact is that the majority of our schools have not reported a single case of corporal punishment during this entire year. I doubt if in the aggregate twenty-five cases have been reported during the year in the entire system. If there are any questions concerning the matter I shall be very glad to answer them so far as lies in my power.

From C. H. Garwood, Associate Superintendent, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

"Your communication of June 16th to Superintendent Wm. M. Davidson received. In reply to same will state that corporal punishment was permitted promiscuously in the Pittsburgh public schools until two years ago when the rules were changed to limit the use of corporal punishment to the discretion of the principal and only in his presence.

"The matter has not been up at any time to indicate whether the limitation has been a success or a failure. We have very little of it in the city at any time, if judiciously used, It has a good effect upon a certain class of poorly home-trained children; however, the less we have of it the better."

From R. J. Condon, Superintendent of Schools, Cincinnati, Ohio

"Corporal punishment is permitted in the schools of this city although it is not resorted to, to any great extent.

"I am opposed to any rule forbidding corporal punishment. My experience with schools in which such a rule is in force leads me to believe that the absence of the right to use corporal punishment results in misconduct and disorder that do not occur where the teachers have the right under reasonable restrictions to make use of this form of punishment."

From E O. Holland, Superintendent of Schools, Louisville, Kentucky

"Under separate cover I am sending to you a manual of the Board of Education of this city. This indicates that under certain conditions, corporal punishment is permitted in the schools of Louisville.

"You ask if I believe public schools can be successfully conducted without corporal punishment. I must qualify my answer by saying that it depends very largely upon the spirit of the school community, the attitude of the parents, and the work of the schools, both past and present. I believe it is always very unfortunate for the question of corporal punishment to be discussed by the public generally unless the children have been mistreated. In that event, the individual who has mistreated the child should be summarily dealt with.

"How many children there are in this world who are deterred from wrong-doing through fear of corporal punishment, it is impossible to say. I am sure that a well-conducted school with the proper attitude on the part of parents will require little corporal punishment. Yet, I have known a, school to go to pieces because the one case out of a thousand was not dealt with in a most direct way by the school authorities.

"There is little corporal punishment in Louisville. Whenever a parent complains about a case of corporal punishment, we make a careful investigation and within the last three and a half years, I have not discovered a single case where a child was mistreated.

"Again I wish to say that I think it is rather a risky thing to have this question raised by the public generally because the school authorities are often prevented from dealing wisely in cases where corporal punishment is the only thing to which they can resort."

From Wm. H. Maxwell, Superintendent of Schools, New York, N.Y.

"I beg leave to reply as follows to the questions contained in your letter of 16th June. Corporal punishment is not permitted in the public schools of the City of New York.

"Retention after school, deprivation of privileges, etc., are substituted for this form of punishment. Our chief reliance, however, is in creating a school atmosphere that renders punishment unnecessary.

"I have no doubt that public schools can be successfully conducted without corporal punishment."

From Ella Flagg Young, Superintendent of Schools, Chicago, Illinois

"Your letter of June 16th is before me. Corporal punishment is not permitted in the Chicago public schools.

"Before corporal punishment was abolished in the public schools of Chicago, I had come to the conclusion that it was a mistaken method of enforcing discipline. At that time I was in charge of the school of practice in connection with the old Normal school, and had introduced into the management of the school a method of discipline which did not admit corporal punishment as one of the means of improving pupils. The abolition of corporal punishment did not by any means reduce the ideal of school discipline. It simply changed the method."

From J. M. Frederick, Superintendent of Schools, Cleveland, Ohio.

"In response to your letter of the 16th inst. corporal punishment is permitted only in the Boys School of Cleveland. In the other public schools it is forbidden. The Boys' School is composed of pupils who have proved incorrigible in the elementary schools. While I regret greatly any case of corporal punishment, my years of experience have failed so far to reveal to me any scheme by which it can be entirely eliminated in a public school system."

From Andrew A. Kincannon, Superintendent of Schools, Memphis, Tennessee

"Replying to your favor of June 16th, I beg to advise that corporal punishment is not permitted in the public schools .of Memphis. Inasmuch as I have just assumed control of the school system here as superintendent, I am unable to answer the other questions which you propound."

From the foregoing letters it is evident to your Committee that the practice in the great majority of the cities named is in accord with the practice that has been followed for some twelve or fifteen years in St. Louis, as will be shown by the following regulation of the Department of Instruction which prescribes in detail the cautions that must be observed. This regulation of the Department of Instruction reads as follows:


Section I. Corporal punishment may be administered whenever, upon consultation between principal and teacher, such punishment may be considered necessary; and when corporal punishment shall have been decided upon, the principal shall either inflict the punishment himself, in the presence of the teacher, or he shall decide that the teacher administer it in his presence.

By Whom

No teacher shall inflict corporal punishment without first obtaining the consent of the principal, nor shall she inflict it except in his presence. When corporal punishment has become necessary it shall not be inflicted otherwise than by using a thin rattan upon the fleshy part of the back.

Improper Manner

Sec. II. Shaking a child, striking him on the head, slapping his face, boxing his ears, and similar means of inflicting physical pain, are strictly prohibited and the Board will hold teachers strictly responsible for any violation of this rule.

Sec. III. All teachers will be held to strict accountability as to the manner in which they shall use the authority delegated to them, and, upon complaint of severity of punishment, each case shall be adjudged upon its own merits, the teacher being subject to dismissal if the Board decide it to be demanded by the circumstances.

Sec. IV. In the exercise of this authority, each teacher shall use the greatest care with reference to the physical condition and temperament of the child, and shall consult with the principal as to the best method of correction.

Sec. V. Each principal, or his legal representative, shall be required to file with the superintendent a quarterly statement giving a list of all the cases of corporal punishment inflicted in his school during this time with the name of the pupil, the date and the cause of such punishment, and the name of the pupils teacher.

Sec. VI. The teachers shall be considered most efficient in discipline who succeed in controlling their pupils without the use of corporal punishment, and other qualifications being sufficient, they shall receive the preference over all others in promotions and appointments.

The following table will show the decrease in the number of cases of corporal punishment and suspensions in the development through twenty years.

Column 4 shows a range in school membership from 81,214 in 1913-14 to 52,859 in 1894-95 and column 5 the range in the per cent of the total membership on whom corporal punishment was inflicted annually during the period of 20 years.

[Table omitted]

Your Committee is informed by the Superintendent of Instruction that in addition to the requirements of this regulation, it is the common practice not to inflict corporal punishment without having first consulted with parents in regard to its necessity.

In view of the above and all other information that has been laid before your Committee in its investigation, it recommends to the Board that this regulation be not abolished, but that the teachers be again asked to be most careful in obeying its requirements and in order that the practice of consulting with parents before the administration of corporal punishment may be always observed, it is , recommended that to the regulation be added the requirement that the principal shall consult with the parent before administering corporal punishment himself or permitting it to be administered by one of his assistants.



The American School Board Journal. vol.52, page 48. January 1916

Recent School Decisions

Muscatine, Iowa. The elimination of severe forms of corporal punishment is planned. A uniform method which will eliminate the use of rubber tubing and similar weapons will be adopted. The change is necessary because of the protests of the residents. A 9-year-old boy, who had been punished by one of the teachers, died in a local hospital and, while it was proven that his death was due to an injury to the foot, the patrons protested against corporal punishment.



The American School Board Journal, vol.60, page 58, January 1920


A Survey Covering 42 States in the Union. The old adage "Spare the rod and spoil the child" is not obsolete. A western editor tried to find out whether It was obsolete or not. The result of his inquiry has been that corporal punishment has been reduced to a minimum and is applied as a last resort only. The state of New Jersey only prohibits the infliction of corporal punishment.

In some states, the law expressly permits whipping, while in other states the law is silent on the subject.

Position of Various States. A poll of the 42 states with regard to corporal punishment reveals the following:

Prohibits Whipping - New Jersey.

Silent - Maine, Connecticut, Illinois, Delaware, Rhode Island, Wisconsin, Michigan, Louisiana, Tennessee, New Hampshire, New York, New Mexico, Utah, Oregon and Wyoming.

Permits Whipping (by specific provision or court decision) - Georgia, Virginia, Maryland, Indiana, Arkansas, Florida, Mississippi, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Alabama, Ohio, California, Colorado, Texas, South Carolina, West Virginia, North Carolina, Kentucky, Vermont, Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota, Minnesota, North Dakota.

In some states where the state laws permit corporal punishment, municipal authorities have enacted laws forbidding it in the city schools.

Expressions of Educators

Will C. Wood, California - "I do not believe that corporal punishment should be administered generally in the schools. I am of the opinion that there are times when corporal punishment is not only justified, but sometimes necessary for the pupil's own good and for the good of society, provided it is inflicted with moderation."

Charles D. Hines, Connecticut - "The belief of teachers in the state is that corporal punishment ought not to be abolished by the law. Their convictions go still further and the universal feeling is that it ought not to be used except in emergencies which require prompt action."

A. L. Heminger, Deputy, Iowa - "It has become the general belief of educators of this part of the country, as well as our own belief, that corporal punishment should be used only as a last resort."

Fred A. Seaman, Chief Clerk, Kansas - "As a general proposition I am firmly convinced that the teachers of Kansas advocate whipping as the last resort. But experience seems to teach that it would be unwise to prohibit it by legislative enactment because it is best to have the pupil know that there is a limit beyond which he cannot go without suffering by so doing."

M. B. Stephens, Maryland - "Under no circumstances is an assistant teacher permitted to inflict corporal punishment on a pupil. Cases seeming to require corporal punishment shall be referred to the principal, who may administer corporal punishment as a last resort."

P. C. Tonning, Deputy Commissioner, Minnesota - ''Some school boards have passed resolutions forbidding corporal punishment in the schools. Others have restricted the use of corporal punishment to principals or superintendents. It is my impression, however, that, speaking in general, teachers are permitted by school boards to use corporal punishment in a reasonable and moderate manner when this is necessary to maintain discipline or the authority of the school, as contemplated by the law above quoted, and that the attitude of the school people thru out the state is, on the whole, favorable toward the proper use of corporal punishment."

J. W. Swearingen, South Carolina - "Whipping is reduced to the lowest possible minimum in our schools. Superintendents, principals and teachers have authority to whip in their discretion. They are held accountable by public opinion for misjudgment or mistakes. They are responsible before the courts for any abuse of their prerogatives. Personally, I wish that the rod could be banished from every classroom, but this will be impossible so long as the sole appeal to a few bad boys can be made only thru their skin."

M. P. Shawkey, West Virginia - "I do not believe much in corporal punishment. However, I do not believe in statutory provisions or any other regulations prohibiting the use of the 'hickory and the paddle.' We do not have much of this form of punishment in the public schools of our state and there is less of it each year. However, we have a number of cases where such action is taken and which seems to be the best and most effective means of getting good results."

C. P. Cary, Wisconsin - "The general trend in the state is to reduce corporal punishment to a minimum, but, in general, it has seemed that forbidding the use of corporal punishment was not altogether desirable."

Katherine A. Morton, Wyoming - "We have no law which prohibits corporal punishment of school children. Public sentiment, however, is against that form of enforcing discipline. The general belief among educators in this state is that a successful teacher does not need to resort to such practices. I hold the same view."




October 9, 1934

Page 27

24. CORPORAL PUNISHMENT. - Corporal punishment shall be restricted to pupils in the day elementary schools. It shall be confined to not more than three blows on each hand with a rattan, the type to be approved by the superintendent of schools. The principal before approving the resorting to corporal punishment by a teacher must satisfy himself, or herself, that the case is so serious as to warrant such drastic action. The nature of the offense must be fully explained to the offending pupil. Shaking, or other gross indignities, such as boxing ears, are expressly forbidden. The teacher inflicting corporal punishment must send to the office of the principal and to the superintendent's office a form, to be supplied, properly filled out, giving the name of the child, parent's name, the address, a careful description of the case, the amount of punishment inflicted. The slip to the superintendent's office shall be sent within twenty-four hours after the punishment. The principal in the event that he or she gives the punishment shall make out the forms and comply with all the regulations as set forth for teachers.


CP in the USA was locally regulated

September 13 2011, 11:49 PM 

In the USA, most of the rules and regulations concerning the use of corporal punishment in schools were determined at local rather than state or federal level, as show by the paucity of mentions of CP in the following digest. Various court rulings relating to the right to punish and the need for the punishment to be appropriate, not discussed here, had effect on local CP practice. The lack of central regulation makes research more difficult as local regulations are generally inaccessible via the internet.


BULLETIN, 1915, No. 47


Compiled by WILLIAM R. HOOD with the assistance of STEPHEN B. WEEKS and A. SIDNEY FORD


Mentions of school CP in state law include:

1. Arizona: Violence to a person shall not constitute assault and battery in the exercise of moderate restraint or correction given by law to parent over child, guardian over ward, or teacher over pupil. (p. 589)

2. Kentucky: CP not to be used at schools for the blind. (p. 802)

3. Minnesota: It shall be lawful for a teacher to use moderate force to restrain or correct a pupil. (page 309)

4. Montana: After notice to parent, teacher may inflict corporal punishment, but in case of flagrant defiance such punishment may be inflicted without notice to parent . (p. 439)

5. New Jersey: no principal, teacher, or other person employed in any capacity in any school or educational institution, whether public or private, shall inflict corporal punishment upon any pupil attending said school or institution; (p. 440)


Prison CP

September 15 2011, 12:36 AM 

So far, I have discovered little that answers the question as to how, why and when the paddle became so popular in USA schools.

The paddle (stout leather strap) was used in US prisons towards the end of the 19th century into the early years of the 20th. Was there a connection with the school paddle, perhaps a common origin? Will researching the prison paddle help understand the advent of the school paddle? (Perhaps an allusion to mild domestic spankings?)


The Record-Union (Sacramento, CA), September 17, 1899, Page 2, cols 3 & 4.


Those people, whose indignation and sense of manliness have led them to favor the whipping post for wife beaters, should be able to concur with Warden Hoyt of Colorado who holds that spanking convicts who are unruly has a most salutary influence. The principle involved in each case is the same. It is intended equally by the use of the lash and the spanking paddle, to teach the offender that society regards him as low in the manly scale and deserving such punishment for his offending as is usually reserved for the dumb beast, the slave and the despicable.

That the paddle is effective and at the same time humane, Warden Hoyt proposes to show to the Congress of Penologists soon to assemble. The official will advocate the use of the "spanking chair" in all prisons, for punishment of refractory prisoners. It is in use in the Colorado Penitentiary and with such success that the Warden is anxious to have it introduced into other prisons.

The spanking is done with a paddle two feet long, three inches wide and three-quarters of an inch thick. When well applied it is a very serious matter for the thought of the victim. The claim made for its use is that it is more humane than to place an offender in solitary confinement, to reduce his rations to near the starvation point, or to compel him to do excessive hard labor. These punishments, as well as that of compelling the convict to drag about a heavy ball and chain, not only reduce his health condition to a level that may land him in the hospital, but they make a sort of hero or martyr of the man in the eyes of his fellows.

But the convict who is spanked is the subject of ridicule and the scorn of all with whom he comes into contact. On this subject, Mr. Hoyt says:

Consider this same man under a different mode of punishment for the same offense. He is taken from his work but a short time, and his punishment is not of a nature that pits his will and endurance against that of his keepers. It is simple and surrounded with no halo of romance. There is no heroism about it. His comrade naturally think he is a "chump" for running up against the hard, matter of-fact side of a paddle, and with nothing gained in the end - nothing to brag over, nothing to be praised for. In a few moments it is over and done with and the "refractory" is back at his work. He has had no time to brood or to store away morbid, bitter thoughts, and he is injured neither mentally nor physically. Of course, he is mortified - but that is good for him and he will remember it, to the benefit of himself and the good discipline of the institution.

The Warden says that very seldom is there necessity for a second application of the spanking machine. Once is enough for the mass of those to whom it is necessary to apply it. But in the history of the dark cell and bread and water systems of punishment, it is recorded that application of the penalties have to be made over and over again; sometimes have to be continued indefinitely and sometimes as long as life remains in the convict's body.

Really, while the laws as they stand prevent the application of either lash or paddle to the men who beat their wives, we are disposed to think that it might be a wise step to modify the laws to such extent as to permit of the very vigorous use of the spanking chair in the case of wife beaters. Offenders thus punished would find that there was no heroism in it, and that the humiliation, disgrace and shame exceed any other possible punishment that can be inflicted, and hence its threat would have a deterrent influence, one so potent that it would be remembered even by men in their cups, those who fill themselves up with liquor for the express purpose of drumming up courage to beat helpless women.


C.P. Hoyt was the warden of the Colorado State Prison during three different terms spanning the period 1883-1900.

Prisoners were subject to corporal punishment if they broke the rules [including forced labour and maintaining silence while working or eating.] One method involved the "Old Grey Mare" which was a sawhorse, onto which the prisoner was required to bend over and there he was spanked with a leather strap. The leather strap was embedded with brads and was soaked in water before striking the prisoner. According to Hoyt's Biennial Reports to the legislature, this type of punishment was used only as a last resort for extreme discipline problems.

American Way

Warden Corporal Punishment Hoyt.

September 15 2011, 1:28 AM 

Spanking Chair for the Girls Kansas Girls was a gift from Warden C. P. Hoyt. Last link has a vintage video a few decades after the chair of the Girls' Industrial School of Kansas.



Warden C. P. Hoyt opines on men who beat their wives.

Really, while the laws as they stand prevent the application of either lash or paddle to the men who beat their wives, we are disposed to think that it might be a wise step to modify the laws to such extent as to permit of the very vigorous use of the spanking chair in the case of wife beaters. Offenders thus punished would find that there was no heroism in it, and that the humiliation, disgrace and shame exceed any other possible punishment that can be inflicted, and hence its threat would have a deterrent influence, one so potent that it would be remembered even by men in their cups, those who fill themselves up with liquor for the express purpose of drumming up courage to beat helpless women.

The Kansas school was in the national spotlight and not in a favorable way.


Illustration of infamous chair.




Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

September 15 2011, 9:50 AM 

So far, I have not been able to establish when spanking with a paddle began to be common in US schools. The word paddle (verb, to spank with a paddle) would have entered the language at this time if it was not already in common use from a non-school context.

The big Websters dictionary, published in 1913, does not contain the word. The word was use in newspapers before this time, as revealed in a number postings above. Presumably, the dictionary was not up to date it takes a long time to compile a big dictionary.

I have now searched other smaller dictionaries published before 1913 and found the following.


The Universal self-pronouncing dictionary of the English Language (based on Webster et al.) 1908
Page 604

pad-dle ('l), v.i. to row slowly; play in the water : v.t. to propel by paddle or oar ; to spank : n. a short broad oar ; an oar blade ; one of the floats for propelling a steamship.

However, the word does not occur in:

The American dictionary of the English language : Collier, 1900. Page 311.

White's People's Webster; a dictionary of the English language, 1899. Page 238

Websters Common School Dictionary, 1892, Page 246.

The above suggests the word, and perhaps the act, may have become common around 1900, give or take.


Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

September 16 2011, 12:07 AM 

Potential sources of primary and good quality secondary information on the origin of the US school paddle

1. Contemporary newspaper and magazine reports.

2. Dictionaries and learned discussions of the origin of words, local idiom, etc.

3. Teachers' professional journals

4. Articles in learned journals discussing education or punishment.

5. Books including teachers' manuals, histories with specific discussion of CP, and biographies, fiction, etc. with passing mention of CP.

6. Contemporary official reports and statistics

7. Legislation, regulations, bylaws, etc.

8. Minutes of official meetings of legislators, inquiries, school boards, etc.

9. Law court records

10. Records of any type dealing with non-US or non-school use of the paddle that might give insight into US school use.

11. Other?

The accessible records are probably biased with material from the more progressive and larger identities over represented. Such are more likely to have kept and published their records than the under resourced, conservative or insular.

Only a small proportion of the interesting material is easily accessible online.

American Way

Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

September 16 2011, 12:25 AM 

KK. Thanks for an exhaustive source list.

Colored girls were lashed and paddled decades after slavery in court. Here are two examples. While I'm sure some white girls may have found themselves in this situation the record shows otherwise.

Maysville, KY


Daily public ledger., August 13, 1906


Three Colored Girls Whipped Order of Judge Whitaker ByLizzie Moore, Fanny Washington and Kate Bower, a trio of colored girls, whose ages range from fifteen to seventeen years, were arrested Friday night for street walking and general misconduct. One of their favorite amusements was butting
into and jostling ladies off the sidewalks and street crossings. In meting punishment to the culprits, Judge Whitaker pursued a mere effective and salutary way than the old method of sending them to Jail. He sent for the mothers of the wayward girls, and after explaining the nature of the offense and the penalty attached thereto, he gave them the choice of spanking their daughters in the presence of an officer, whose duty it was to see that it was well done; otherwise, the severest penalty of the law would be inflicted. They agreed to do the spanking. The mothers and offenders retired to a roomin rear of the Police Courtroom, and each one in turn was placed across a table and an improvised paddle made from a salt barrel stave was wielded by the parent in a manner that left a deep impression en both mind and bodythat will remain for several days to come.Though severe, it is quite likely that the warm application will have a beneficial effect. They now take their meals standing.


The St. Louis Republic., July 19, 1901 Kansas City, Mo.

A negro girl was publicly whipped in the court of aKansas City Justice of the Peace this morning.Little Thomas, 13 years old, was foundguilty of stealing a small amount of moneyfrom a. neighbor. When Justice Walls prepared to sentence her, the mother beggedthe Court to order her sent to his whippingpost, urging that the result would be better. This whipping post in Walls's court ls famous as a local institution, but until nowno woman has ever been bound to it. At the request of the mother. Justice Walls consented to let the girl go, provided the mother administered a sound lashing.The girl was bound, and the mother, armed with a whip, thrashed her until the Judge ordered her to desist.


Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

September 16 2011, 10:47 AM 

This book was noted before http://www.network54.com/Forum/198833/message/1287777344. I have seen it in snippet form only. It only briefly mentions corporal punishment but covers the period from 1890 to 1920 when the school paddle may have become established.

The Age of the Child (History of American Childhood Series)

by David I. MacLeod (Professor of History at Central Michigan University)

At the dawn of the twentieth century, progressive reformers optimistically heralded the coming age as "the century of the child." They proclaimed that every young person should have a sheltered and dependent childhood in which they were nurtured by a loving mother and supported by a hard-working father. Yet across much of the United States rival modes of childhood prevailed. Farm children and working-class urban youths shared the cramped housing and restricted incomes of their elders, often serving as vital contributors to the family economy. To the dismay of reformers, city children often lagged behind in school and yet displayed precocious independence on the streets.

The Age of the Child vividly reinterprets much of progressive reform as a tug-of-war against rival forms of childhood. More than a history of reform, though, this is a story of varied lives in an era that is just now passing out of living memory. It tells how gender, age, race, ethnicity, social class, and region, as well as urban or rural residence not only limited or enhanced opportunities, but sometimes determined life or death. Macleod examines how changing economic, social, and cultural possibilities could dramatically alter children's life chances. Unlike many histories of childhood, this volume carefully distinguishes between the experiences of boys and girls. Distilling recent scholarship in social history.

The Age of the Child goes beyond the traditional emphasis of progressive-era historiography on the urban North and gives equal weight to rural southern and midwestern childhoods.


More marginally relevant background material

September 16 2011, 11:19 PM 


Classroom organization and control

by J. B. Sears.
Boston, Houghton Mifflin company [c1918]

Page 75-. Chapter VII School Punishments



High school administration

by William Adelbert Cook.
Baltimore, Warwick & York, inc. 1926

[Acceptable practice has changed.] Page 267

Corporal punishment has been discontinued completely in about half the high schools. The right to inflict it should be reserved because that practically eliminates the necessity of inflicting it. Some principals secure its infliction by the parents, although the superiority of home discipline over school discipline is about as well established as the superiority of home instruction over school instruction. Moreover, if the parent can discipline for the principal, why can not the principal discipline for the teacher? Truly the argument is weak. As a last recourse before expulsion the flogging of a boy will help in one case out of three or four, and it surely does little harm in the cases which are lost anyhow. A senior boy recently asserted that if he had been shaken two months earlier he would have graduated. The writer personally knows of two cases in one school, one involving a boy, the other a girl, in which the course of the principal was currently commented upon with favor six to eight years afterward. Burial of lost patients by expulsion or repeated suspension is a fairly common road to safety, but it does not sound like professional or social service. Educational people have a right to be alarmed over the combination of super-soft pedagogy and startling criminality in America. A cause-and-effect relation may not exist between the two, but some sort of alibi would be refreshing to us. A sound whipping given to a small boy in the earlier years of high school is much less severe or dangerous than suspension for a week. Age is a very apt criterion for determining the kind of punishment, but it is the mental rather than the chronological age that governs. Little boys and girls are eligible for a switching, even if they have succeeded in entering the high school; babies will require a spanking occasionally regardless of long trousers.

Note also page 262-3


However, when a student's conduct is menacing to the school, it may not be practicable to defer all action, but the direct issue may be avoided by requesting the student to leave the room. If he refuses to leave, he should be ejected by force and with scant ceremony. To that rule there can be no exception. A physical clash between a teacher and a student is unpleasant enough, but its effect may be salutary, and it is far better than open defiance of the authorities of the school. Aside from persistent refusal to obey a simple command, the only other case in which presumption favors immediate, decisive action, is intentional, personal impertinence to a teacher. The proper penalty for that brand of impudence is a slapped face, the slapping to be done in the quickest possible time without warning, by the person offended. This counsel sounds strenuous, and if followed may bring an indignant patron to the school. Nevertheless it will be sustained by the board, if it is the board's policy to sustain proper discipline at all. It is taken for granted, of course, that no rule against corporal punishment has been adopted by the board.


Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

September 17 2011, 4:56 AM 

US schools were and largely still are managed at a local level. Elected school committees of lay people rather than trained educators have ultimate control of each school or school district.

There were and still are big differences between states and within states.

Conjecture: Adoption of the paddle as the preferred implement for corporal punishment was decided locally at different times in different places. The decision was either made by teachers to ward off concerns from lay people, or was a school committee decision imposed on local teachers. There are few accessible written records of the change because of the way the decision was made.

The move towards the paddle was largely driven by the desire to reduce objections to corporal punishment by reducing the marking if not its severity

Only in relatively recent times have regulations been made concerning the size of the paddle and how it is to be used. These are the result of concerns about injuries inflicted, and over harsh punishments.


Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

September 17 2011, 10:31 AM 

I suspect , KK, you are right on the button with that explanation. the paradox of the paddle is that used appropriately it is very effective but does not mark anything like the cane : used excessively, on the wrong bits of the body particularly ,it is very dangerous as can be seen from its classification by homeland security as a 'prohibited item ' for the purposes of carriage on flights in hand baggage. The bruising from an excessive paddling can be horrendous.

This is my reservation about its use , and why I think Renee's 'rules' or similar are essential



September 19 2011, 2:50 AM 

As remarked previously, there are big differences between the different states in the USA. It may therefore be more fruitful to attempt to study the history of the school paddle in a selected state or states rather than in the USA as a whole. Texas is one of the great paddling states so would seem to be a suitable candidate.

Currently, Texas state law does not provide guidelines for corporal punishment policies. However, Section 37.001 of the Texas Education Code, requires that a school district's student code of conduct provide options for disciplining students. Each school district decides independently whether to allow corporal punishment as an option and the conditions under which corporal punishment may be used.

There are over 1,000 school districts in Texas, with non-paddling Houston the largest. The school districts are independent of local territorial government and do not necessarily match city boundaries. Over 100 of the school districts mention paddling in their online school handbooks, according to corpun.com.

It is unlikely there was ever top-down regulation of CP in Texas schools although court decisions may have influenced practice. The individual school districts need to be studied.

The older, larger and more prestigious schools made have established precedents or models for other school districts to follow. Unless contemporary newspaper reports can help, or someone has already done the research, it will be necessary to access and search the school district records to determine when they first authorized or attempted to regulate CP. This is a daunting task for someone living far from the state.

Perhaps CP has discussed CP practice in a history of the Texas education?

American Way

Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

September 19 2011, 6:23 PM 

KK Stop looking for the earliest. I have found the earliest use of the shingle. happy.gifhappy.gifhappy.gif Please don't tell me you don't enjoy my sense of humor. sad.gif



Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

September 20 2011, 2:18 AM 

American Way's amusing posting immediately above provides further evidence that suggests that shingles might have been the precursors of paddles, and this was known in both New York and Seattle in 1912. On its own, it is light weight evidence but it does add weight to the existing evidence.

Now, something of s similar nature from the great state of Texas:

The Portal to Texas History: http://texashistory.unt.edu

The Yucca, Yearbook of North Texas State Normal School, 1908, F. P. Bowman, editor. Page 135.

    Professor B. "Now, will you, Mr. G., tell me what the Board of Education is?"

    Mr. G. "Yes Sir. It is the shingle which the country professor uses for a paddle."

A preliminary cursory examination of early Texas records has not found any discussions of school CP. This may suggest it was not a contentious issue. The domestic paddle may have been used in the early schools as a matter of course without comment or regulation.

American Way

Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

September 22 2011, 6:51 PM 

Another maybe amusing post on the shingle.



Advice needed

September 24 2011, 1:19 AM 

In the USA education was and is largely locally organized. This has made my research into the origin of the paddle difficult.

I have found no discussion of the merits of the paddle versus other implements in any of the more "progressive states" - those with good newspaper and other online archives - or in the present paddling states (Texas, Mississippi, Arkansas, Alabama and Tennessee), which tend to have less complete or less accessible archives.

Can anybody suggest a state where the paddle was once popular that I might concentrate on?

American Way

Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

September 27 2011, 6:28 AM 

1873 shingles for spanking purposes. How are shingles made for spanking services different than shingles?



Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

September 27 2011, 1:07 PM 

Just a thought. The problem is the rather partial nature of administration in the South in th pre and post civil war period which make records far more difficult to trace. Can I suggest Louisiana? It was a slave state ( sugar etc.), and quite well organised from the point of view as a commercial hub . Now Orleans /Baton Rouge ? Just an idea


Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

October 10 2011, 5:50 AM 

The slave paddle is well known, as is the leather prison and reformatory paddle in use towards the end on the 19th. century and into the 20th It seems that prison authorities had considerable autonomy deciding disciplinary practices with little regard for the law. Prison conditions were often very harsh.

The wooden paddle was used in some prisons, probably a carryover from slavery.

The development of American prisons and prison customs, 1776-1845

Late General Secretary American Prison Association and the Prison Association of New York
Published by the Prison Association of New York


Page 266, excerpt:

In 1841, the Reverend Gerrish Barrett visited on his travels this prison [the State penitentiary of Georgia]. He described it as in the suburbs of Milledgeville, the capital of the State, on ground that was too low. It had 150 cells, occupied by 160 prisoners, among whom were 4 white women and one mulatto. The cells were on the Baltimore prison plan, but smaller. The spaces between the tiers of cells were entirely floored over. The cell doors were of wood, without any grating, and fastened with a padlock.

The chief industries of the prison were shoemaking, harness making, and wagon making. The prison did not support itself. No ardent spirits and no tobacco were allowed. Thirty of the 160 prisoners could not read and 52 could not write. There was no one save their fellow convicts to teach the ignorant to read. There was preaching once a week from a minister from the town, who received $150 annually for his services. There was no flogging in the prison, but the paddle was used. The paddle consisted of a piece of wood, 4 feet long, and 2 or 3 inches in diameter; one end of the paddle was wider than the rest, flattened, and was filled with holes. With the flat end, from 5 to 30 blows would be applied to the bare skin of a prisoner, while he was held over a block or a barrel.

The above seems unlikely to be a precursor for school paddling.



Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

October 10 2011, 7:07 AM 

Hi KK,

What a very curious description of the Georgia State Penitentiary Paddle in 1841 in the article you quote above. I would have thought that 'two or three inches in diameter' couldn't be for instance a confusion of a handle with the whole of the device. It is surely too large a diameter to be comfortably and firmly gripped for an active use like paddling.

I can't readily visualise the device. Can you?


Large diameter paddle

October 10 2011, 7:48 PM 


The description of a paddle with such a large diameter does not make sense. Even the word flattened is suspect - one does not normally flatten wood. Wood is not mallable. I wonder if there has been a problem with the type setting of a fraction. Otherwise, the description might have suffered from transcription errors. Perhaps the dimensions were recorded from a verbal description without the paddle being seen.

I envisage a paddle shaped like a small oar consisting of a shaft, perhaps one or up to one and one half inches in diameter, with a flat blade at the end. Such a paddle might have been cut from a single plank.

Alternatively, the blade of the paddle might have been two to three inches in diameter - a flat disk on the end of a shaft - a palmaterio. The name suggests application to the hand but it seems unlikely slave owners would have risked injuries to the hands or that slaves could be easily forced to submit.

(If only people would write more clearly.)



October 11 2011, 12:01 AM 

Having recklessly collected a large number of diverse items above I now wish to sort them. How best to do this? What software can I use? (Yes, I should have thought of this before I started.)

All the messages need to be split into separate "articles" or items and each tagged with date, author, type, instrument, etc.

Type of article might include: academic paper, book or book excerpt, comments by me, newspaper article, official report, etc,

Type of punishment might include: domestic, fraternity, judicial, military, prison, school, slave, etc.



Re: Large diameter paddle

October 11 2011, 6:18 AM 

Hi KK,

With regard to the strange paddle description you say above:

I envisage a paddle shaped like a small oar consisting of a shaft, perhaps one or up to one and one half inches in diameter, with a flat blade at the end. Such a paddle might have been cut from a single plank.

Yes, that certainly sounds reasonable. I've always assumed that, despite the various descent lines for paddles from shingles etc., the actual name paddle derives from the aquatic propulsion device.

Some time ago here I posted with reference to a site our esteemed fellow contributor American Way had linked:

The majority of the clips depict elaborate costume dramas in which attractive young women and/or elderly males are made to lie prostrate to be beaten on the buttocks by men in funny hats wielding paddles clearly purchased from members of the losing crew in the 'varsity boat race in exchange for beer money to drown their sorrows. The convention seems to be that the elderly males almost always have their buttocks bared for this process, whereas the attractive young women are invariably spared this indignity. Rampant sexual discrimination in my opinion, and a clear warning to Another_Lurker to keep well clear of Chinese ond Korean film studios! happy.gifwink.gifhappy.gif

Those paddles were vast, and could certainly have propelled a racing eight. The site has changed it's nature now, and a quick look tonight failed to discover any examples, though doubtless they are still there somewhere. But what they had in common with the far smaller 16" x 3 1/2" x 1/4" paddle recently deployed by Renee of Teachers Who Paddle here (ouch! happy.gif) is that both types could be used to propel a boat by a paddle action.

I'm not sure about your palmaterio for use for disciplinary purposes in the State Prison though. Hold out your hand you naughty prisoner! Nope, doesn't have quite the right ring to it! happy.gif



October 11 2011, 6:53 AM 


Paper presented at the Annual Convention of the National Association of School Psychologists (Philadelphia, PA, April 20, 1984).

Analysis of Recent Corporal Punishment Cases Reported in National Newspapers

Clarke, Jacqueline; et al.

This paper presents examples of types of corporal punishment and a content analysis of newspaper articles since 1977 dealing with corporal punishment in public and nonpublic schools. Examples are used to illustrate types of punishment, paddling injuries, injuries to other parts of the body, special punishments devised by teachers, deaths due to physical punishment, and punishments administered to special education students.

The content analysis used 212 reports which contained data on the sex and job position of the educator, the sex and age of the student, the nature of the infraction, and the severity of the punishment. Student infractions were divided into violent and nonviolent categories. Punishments were divided into cases that required medical treatment, cases that resulted in physical injury not requiring medical treatment, and cases thought by parents to be improperly administered. Results indicated differences by sex in the frequency of both meting out and receiving punishment. The incidence of punishment was found to increase up to junior high school, and severity of the punishment was found to be related to sex but not to age or to the violence of the offense. Results are discussed in terms of the educational system and prevailing cultural norms.

It is concluded that lawsuits may provide the impetus for the development of more adequate guidelines for the use of corporal punishement. However, the failure of current guidelines to protect children suggests that corporal punishment should be abolished.

[The newspapers are likely to have reported the extraordinary rather than the ordinary so represent a very biased sample of all corporal punishment. This is not to say the extraordinary is unimportant.]



Re: Help

October 11 2011, 10:19 PM 

Hi KK,

You may have suddenly thought of a solution, but if not I need to try to get a clearer picture of the problem you outline in your October 11 2011, 12:01 AM post above. I don't do any proper programming now, no time, and I'm not really a programmer anyway. Sadly you have been pissi slightly annoying happy.gif the Forum's resident expert Professional Programmer, though I'm pretty sure she is not in need of extra work anyway, so I think we are looking at improvised belt and braces or if very lucky a freeware type solution.

Have I got this right:
  1. You want to use the posts in the thread containing things like academic papers, books or book excerpts, comments by you, newspaper articles, official reports, etc as the data source. (In this thread that is in fact most posts, except for unfortunate intrusions like my effort last night - sorry!)

  2. You then want to be able to pull out a selection of those posts matching certain specified criteria - for instance punishment of a domestic, fraternity, judicial, military, prison, school, slave, etc. type.

  3. To do this you presently envisage embedding extra data in, or in some way tagging, each relevant post to identify things like date, author, type, instrument, etc. in a format which would facilitate 1 & 2.
Is that a reasonable summary of your objective?

I certainly can't see a solution with absolute clarity, but I can see some fuzzy vague hints. However, unless you are prepared to do some hard work in preparing and then editing (the editing is the time consuming bit) a copy of the thread to work off-line on your own system you'd be limited by the data already in the posts as indexing material. If you have an off line version you can embed data in each post to facilitate a more accurate categorisation.

My impression is that you probably already know your way round the source of a thread, but if not I can probably help. The tricky bit is deciding the best format for any extra material added to each post, and then getting a suitable search mechanism. The Network54 Forum search mechanism would actually be ideal if it could be directed at one thread only, but that mechanism isn't going to be transferable as an off-line facility on your system.

I'll await your response, and then comment further.


Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

October 14 2011, 5:54 AM 


I regret that I have caused you to become drunk or worse, that I caused you have resorted to unBritish usages, whichever is the case. [P*ssed; British = drunk, American = angry.] Are you sure, it is not lack of sleep? You seem to be online all hours. I am worried you suffer from chronic high cortisol levels.

The answer to all three of your questions is "yes".

There are commercial database and specific bibliographic software packages that would serve my needs. They cost and it would be a tedious process to cut and paste items from above into the appropriate fields.



Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

October 14 2011, 7:37 AM 

Hi KK,

I will see if I can come up with anything on your indexing/searching problem. No promises, but I'll do my best.

An interesting question with regard to my use (or rather partial deleted use happy.gif) of slang terminology. First though, as you referred to my possibly becoming drunk, let me make it clear that I was NOT indicating that I was pi**ed off by your recent chiding of one of my most esteemed fellow contributors regarding her sincerely held views, but that she very well might be! However, as noted, I think she probably has more than enough work on hand already.

Now that word:

Though I stand to be corrected by others here who are more familiar with current usage, I would say that in my little bit of the UK you might still hear
  • he was pi**ed as a newt or

  • I got totally pi**ed
with regard to excessive consumption of alcohol. However you would probably be slightly more likely to hear
  • stop pi**ing me off or

  • I'm pi**ed off with that shop
indicating annoyance.


Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

October 14 2011, 3:13 PM 

Hi Another_Lurker

However, as noted, I think she probably has more than enough work on hand already.

Correct - on all counts. I'm busy setting up databases actually. wink.gif

I could offer a few suggestions but your "client" might not appreciate a woman's (professional) opinion so I'd better keep quiet and leave the men to talk. I'll be in the kitchen making coffee in accordance with my sex role. wink.gif



Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

October 14 2011, 4:55 PM 

Hi Jenny,

Hmm, I trust you're not linking me into this 'a woman's place is in the home' nonsense! Some of the very best systems people, programmers and operators I've worked with have been female. But while you're at it mine's white, no sugar, but if you're making any I'd rather have tea! happy.gifwink.gifhappy.gif


Bob T

Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

October 14 2011, 6:20 PM 

I am glad I wasn't a freshman at University of Missouri 100 years ago.


From the Tribune, Oct. 13, 1911: A meeting of the freshman class at MU to organize a pep squad for the annual freshman-varsity football game was interrupted by members of the sophomore class, and a brutal fight followed, which surpassed any previous unrest.

The battle took place in the auditorium of the new agriculture building and resulted in broken doors and several injuries as the sophomores overcame the freshmen using paddles, fists and superior numbers, working them onto the state farm where they again were paddled, beaten and thrown into the horse pond.

Coach Chester Brewer called the actions shameful and said he had called the freshmen to organize early for the game. MU President A. Ross Hill condemned the sophomores actions but took no punitive action.


Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

October 14 2011, 9:22 PM 


University Missourian, September 14, 1911, page 3, col. 4.


Washington Boys to be "Hickory Switched." if Bad.

Washington's public schools will open next Monday under direction of a new city superintendent, Dr. W. M Davidson, of Wisconsin. Dr. Davidson is expected to introduce many modern methods, such as are employed in the great Middle West, which is furnishing so many pedagogues to the intellectual East, and also he means to revive an ancient method of correcting unruly boys. Dr. Davidson has no scruples about the old hickory switch, if it can be found, or any other form of paddle more accessible to the modern teacher. He says:

"A good spanking, judiciously administered, is one of the most effective correctives I know. I want teachers to make the boys understand the teachers have a right to administer that punishment if occasion demands."

Mr. Stuart, Dr. Davidson's predecessor, was considerably more tender-hearted and instruments of corporal punishment were laid on the shelves.

[By 1911, it seems "the paddle" had already become a generic term for any instrument of corporal punishment which suggests it was very well established at the time, in the writer's mind if not the whole of the USA.]

American Way

Earning your bugs the hard way.

October 17 2011, 2:26 AM 

KK Forgive me for straying in your most informative thread. You have to write a book as I mentioned before for you have done so much research. That is truly commendable.

While not the earliest use it is interesting how post secondary "normal school" teaching schools (sometimes shorter in length) might have had social club paddles that worked their way to the classroom. It is interesting how ubiquitous the paddle became here in social club rituals as oppose to the use of the hand, slipper or cane so out of favor here. Ladies must earn their bugs by swats of the initiation paddle. Second link shows paddling. A true slice of Americana from the American Way.

It may be off topic, probably is but what's new about that with me? I hope this diversion is not upsetting some for I considered posting under Corporal Punishment on the Lighter Side but it does have a paddle reference albeit out of school. The ladies are just so irresistible. They were quite a bunch. Weren't they? In the UK are there paddle initiation for post-college societies. It is easier to find stories about fraternal initiations but that's not my focus. I hope you don't think I am a pervert. wink.gif I am a fan of Doris Day so that's a collateral benefit of my research.




Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

October 18 2011, 9:37 PM 

American Way has drawn attention to the following item which features a photo of a woman being paddled, in a gentile way, by way of initiation, while lying face down on a low table or bench. The initiation seems to resemble that of a sonority.


Life, 22 February 1943, page 100 (Weekly news and lifestyle magazine).

Life goes to a Ladybug initiation

The Military Order of Ladybugs is not, as its name seems to suggest, either militant or biological. It is the fun organization of the women's auxiliary of Veterans of Foreign Wars, patterned on the corresponding male organization, Military Order of the Cootie. Unlike the Cooties, however, Ladybugs do not enjoy official recognition by the Veterans, composed mostly of those whose with the A.E.F. in the last war.

AW suggests, if I understand him correctly, that paddling might have migrated from social organizations associated with teacher training, into schools. I have previously suggested something similar, namely that university graduates employed as high school teachers may have been familiar with the fraternity paddle and introduced it into schools.

I have found no evidence for or against this suggestion.

American Way

Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

October 19 2011, 1:59 PM 

"Resemble" but not in the sorority as in posture. Girls are put in the humiliating position of bending over or assuming the position (not to be confused with the brace position). They are generally mild for the measure you measure with will be measured back to you. Jesus way of saying what goes around... THey are done clothed or in panties (knickers). They are more ceremonial as oppose to men who wear their marks (not grades) as a badge of honor (macho thing). The vampire sorority row paddling of the whiny girl posted before (by request only again) shows a severe one (tire marks from a truck) and like wise the "gentile" one for money as part of a realty TV program. On a lighter note, I assume the definition of gentile has nothing to do with circumcision.


Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

October 19 2011, 7:40 PM 

gentile genteel = civil, considerate, courteous, cultivated, cultured, polite, refined, urbane, well-behaved, well-mannered


Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

October 22 2011, 9:20 PM 

The question as to why the paddle became so popular in US schools remains a mystery. There is no such doubt as to why the cane became popular in British-tradition schools throughout the British Empire / Commonwealth. The schools were largely modeled on the English "public" schools.


Child & Youth Services Volume 19, Issue 1, 1998, pages 35-54

The Public School in 19th Century England: Social Mobility Together with Class Reproduction

The Industrial Revolution raised England to a leadership position in industrial capitalism. which brought change in land ownership and created pressure for social mobility. The newly-rich, emerging from the middle classes, attempted to integrate with the upper class. One of the central ways of attaining this aim was to send their children to the aristocrats' traditional boarding schools, the so-called public schools. This tendency led to the establishment of new schools and expansion of the existing ones.

The public schools traditionally encouraged withdrawal and isolation from cities. They preferred country life for the sake of moral education. distance and isolation supposedly making the educational process easier. The students were continually exposed to teachers, religious leaders, and prefects and were wider constant pressure to achieve learning objectives dictated by the classical curriculum and to behave in an exemplary manner in public (Weinberg, 1967).

In spite of the schools' strictness and moral education, however, they were not without organizational and administrative irregularities. Student dissatisfaction with the physical conditions, the lack of teachers and decreasing in educational activities resulted in repeated riots. These disturbances continued for almost 100 years, until a string of reforms were introduced by Arnold in 1828.

[. . .]


Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

October 22 2011, 10:01 PM 

The kind of discipline a school system practices it related to the system of controls in the total social system, according to DAVID W. SWIFT. The author is Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Hawaii.


David W. Swift
The Educational Forum, Volume 36, Issue 2, 1972, pages 199-208

Changing Patterns of Pupil Control

DISCIPLINARY methods in American public schools have changed drastically during the past century. Punitive measures of earlier times have been replaced by a concern for the feelings of the child, and corporal punishment has virtually vanished. Although this new approach is generally assumed to be the result of increased public enlightenment this is only part of the story. Gentler discipline emerged not simply for altruistic reasons but also as a matter of expediency: it alleviated urgent custodial problems confronting the school and its personnel. Traditional disciplinary methods had sufficed in the small simple schools of a preindustrial society, but they were no longer satisfactory in large urban systems where, as we shall see, the consequences of disorder became far more serious. A new approach to control was needed, and the progressive ideas of John Dewey and other educators satisfied this need. While humanitarianism played a part it was far from the only factor present. (ref 1).

In a broader context this can be seen as one aspect of the change from simple "folk", gemeinschaftliche, "communal" societies to complex gesellschaftliche, "associational" societies (ref 2). Social control in the former is relatively straightforward and effective; in the latter, according to many observers, control is weakened by urbanization, the division of labor, and the rational, impersonal organization of many spheres of human activity (ref 3).

The first part of this article examines discipline in earlier, traditional times, suggesting reasons why harsh methods were acceptable in the simple village school regardless of their consequences for the student. The second part examines pupil control in the modern, urban era, suggesting problems which required a departure from former methods (ref 4).

[. . .]

1. For a discussion of discipline in European schools, from medieval to modern times, see Philippe Aries, Centuries of Childhood (New York: Random House, 1962), pp. 241-68.

2. Emile Durkheim, The Division of Labor in Society, trans. by G. Simpson (New York: Free Press, 1947) ; Fibrin A. Sorokin, The Crisis of Our Age (New York : Dutton, 1941 and GcorSimmel, Sociology, trans. by Kurt Wolff (New York: Free Press, 1950).

3. Fly Chinoy, Society, 2nd ed. (New York: Random House, 1967).

4. Although the precise date dividing the two periods is not crucial in a "before" and "after" analysis of this sort, 1870 provides a convenient cutting point. The transition from simple, localized society, still revolving around primary, kinship types of relationships, into more complex, impersonal, national forms of organization, was suggested by a number of events, both in education and in the larger society. The establishment of a U.S. government agency concerned with education, state court decisions permitting taxation for extending education to the secondary level, the proliferation of fulltime school superintendents, and legislation providing for unification of many separate school districts all appeared, or became prominent, around this time.

American Way

Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

October 22 2011, 10:46 PM 




Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

October 22 2011, 11:01 PM 


You pose the question as to why the paddle became so popular in US schools remains a mystery.

Yet you dismiss the use of the cane in British schools as
schools were largely modeled on the English "public" schools.

That to me, shows that British schools were not capable of looking at the problem they were faced with, and lacked original thought about creating good classroom behaviour, they took the easy way out and just followed the "public" schools like lost sheep

If you doubt why the paddle became so popular in the US, which is a good question, surely should you not also doubt as to why the cane was used in "public" schools in the first instance, which is of equal veracity.


Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

October 22 2011, 11:42 PM 

American Way

I have not subscribed tohttp://www.newspaperarchive.com/Default.aspx . I do not know whether such a subscription would be worthwhile. It may be the most comprehensive available but the coverage of different states seems very uneven as does the time spans covered. I presume most of the digitization has been done by local libraries or by the more substantial newspapers themselves. The quality of the images varies greatly as some are barely readable. It is unclear whether OCR text is accessible for down loading.


You make some possibly valid points but they are largely about matters unrelated to the deliberate narrow focus of my research.

I note that USA is very litigious society with a strong anti-government, even local self government sentiment. The paddle was known from the days of slavery. Paddles of various kinds were common domestic articles. Possibly, the paddle was favoured by school teachers because it marked less than other devices such as the switch, and hence provided less evidence to concern parents or to present in law courts. Of course, a heavy paddle can cause internal injuries / deep bruising.


British verus American tradition

October 23 2011, 10:42 PM 

I grew up under the British CP tradition which may be why the American tradition, and its reliance on the paddle, seems anomalous to me. Perhaps it is the British tradition, and its strong reliance on British "public" (secondary) schools, that is anomalous.

In New Zealand secondary schools tended to follow the British "public" schools and caned on the buttocks. Primary schools set up by the government when education first became compulsory developed separately and strapped hands.

In the USA the emigrants presumably brought a diversity of customs and practices with them Schools were organized and managed by local communities and were probably little affected by outside influences especially in rural and conservative areas.


Re: Spanking as a euphemism

October 29 2011, 6:34 AM 

[linked image]

The newspaper archive is far from complete. It goes up to 1922 only. The degree of coverage varied through the survey period. The year 1909 had the most mentions of the word spank.

American Way

Spanking and Paddling

October 29 2011, 12:05 PM 

KK. That is something that I have noticed in my research. Spanking has more than one meaning of course but is used in the non-corporal punishment manner, perhaps because of horses of course, of course in the 19th century. There was an increase in the time closest to the supreme court ruling in the latter part of the 1970's as well. Students do not say I got spanked in school but will say that about home; they say I got paddled. In Catholic schools (including until 2001 prohibition in states where permitted) I got the ruler or I got the stick (yardstick). In 1971, recall my Catholic school example of the only African American fifth grade boy in that class (blacks being more often Protestants) was with the paddle that I did not see but heard about. Little did I know that boy would be paddled when I sent him to the office. I felt terrible at the time, perhaps because of my relatively dark color (I was called coon as well as beaver), but feel differently now.

As an aside, without becoming overly redundant, off topic or boring, boring Boring, the only girl (sorry KK), was an over the knee spanking in third grade and even as an eight year old was "fascinated" well before they were no urinals in theirs. perhaps not having a little sister. This was the same girl, with same sister who left without permission and ran to the girl's lavatory (that's what they were called at the time) crying because her father was Protestant and she was told they don't go to heaven. I hope they have a tall fence up so she will never know she was wrong if she ever gets there? Maybe she need a urinal for she was such a Larry 1951 I won't keep you busy.


Leather versus wood

October 30 2011, 10:32 PM 

I continue my research into the origin of the US school paddle, a device always (?) made of wood. It may or may not be a derivative of the slave, fraternity or household paddle - there is still no clear evidence. The utility household paddle was always wood.

The leather paddle or strap has also featured in the USA especially in prisons and reform schools mainly before and after 1900. I have discovered a fraternity apparently used leather rather than wooden paddles. This may or may not give insight into the original of the fraternity paddle.

My posting above of July 23, 2011, 12:24 AM mentions a fraternity initiation carried out at a local prison. The paddle was not described but is likely to have been leather.


Daily Journal-World, Lawrence, Kansas - Monday 7 October, 1935, page 2, col 2.

Wielder of Leather Paddles Get Razzing

Their act didn't get over so well with crowd

Brothers ward team up

When the K men paddle a freshman that's not hot news, but when they paddle one of their own members that's something. Saturday's football gathering saw many unusual things and along with those they saw a K man get a thrashing at the hands of his brothers.

The K man got the paddle because he doesn't believe in the old K. U. custom of beating the newcomers. He appeared at the game sans sweater and leather paddle so just to remind him several of the other boys bent him over and pounded him good.

Generally the mob enjoys such a display of arrogance, but they didn't Saturday and the paddlers got the well-known "bird" from the fans.

Two freshmen who forgot to wear their caps also were given the leather reminder, but paddling the K man didn't go over as big with the crowd as the boys anticipated.

American Way

Power to the paddle

October 31 2011, 12:19 AM 

A story of of a prison demon and the paddle from the turn of the century Ohio.

Ira Marlatt from first link to last one the prison demon to an angel of mercy.


They paddled him until there was no place left to paddle.


May 1897


When I took charge of the Penitentiary in May, 1897, after an interval of six years, I found that it had retrograded that it was fifty years behind in its reformatory mission. "A reign of terror" in which stripping men naked and paddling them for the slightest infraction of the rules was one of the existing features, and on the other hand a capricious mode of treatment was in vogue which fondled the convict in the afternoon and paddled him in the morning

August 1897


January 1898



Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

October 31 2011, 6:08 AM 

It seems most unlikely that school paddling were derived from prison practice, which became extremely harsh.


No law prescribing instrument to be used by teachers

October 31 2011, 9:50 PM 


Biennial report and opinions of the Attorney General of the state of Illinois

Illinois. Attorney General's Office, State Printers, 1917

Page 970-


There is no law prescribing the instrument to be used by a school teacher in the punishment of pupils. Such a law would be exceedingly unwise and improper. A small switch may be used more cruelly by one person than a leather strap, or a wooden paddle, by another person.

General principles of law prevailing, as announced in the text books, are to the effect that in order to compel compliance with reasonable rules and regulations, a school teacher may inflict reasonable corporal punishment upon a pupil for disobedience, insubordination, or other gross misconduct.

The teacher, however, must adapt the punishment to the nature of the offense and to the age and mental condition and personal attributes of the offending pupil; and, considering the circumstances and conditions of the particular offense and the particular pupil, the punishment must not be inflicted with such force, or in such manner, as to cause the same to be cruel, excessive, wanton or malicious.

The question whether punishment inflicted in a particular instance was cruel, excessive, wanton or malicious, is a question for the courts, to be decided by court or jury after hearing and considering all the circumstances and conditions connected with the particular case.

October 11, 1916.

Mr. J. M. Simmons, R. P. D. No. 2. Grantsburg, I11.

DEAR SIR: I have your letter of October 9, inquiring what punishment teachers in the common public schools are allowed to administer and what they are allowed to use in administering punishment. You state that your teacher has been using a leather strap and a wooden paddle, and that he whipped a small boy with the leather strap until the blood ran down his leg and he whipped another small boy with the wooden paddle and made a stripe about four inches long and a half an inch wide, almost bloodshot. You further state that section 114 of the School Law says that the directors can adopt and enforce all necessary rules and regulations for the management and government of the public schools of their district, and you also state that the directors in this instance were called in and instructed the teacher to use a small switch but that the teacher claims he may punish with anything he chooses.

It is apparent from your letter that this is a matter in which it would be entirely improper and beyond my powers to interfere. It would appear that the controversy is between the teacher and the board of directors. If the board of directors wish any advice, the School Law provides that it is the duty of the State Superintendent of Public Instruction to construe the law.

I think a little reflection will convince you that it would not do for two departments of the State Government to take jurisdiction over the same matter; such action might result in a conflict between the two departments and interfere with the orderly conduct of the affairs of the government.

However, there is one sentence in your letter which, perhaps, calls for further explanation. You state that you know that I know all about what a teacher is allowed to punish with and how much and that you will be very glad for me to tell you.

There is no law fixing "what a teacher is allowed to punish with" and it would be a very bad law, if it existed. A small switch may be used more cruelly by one person than a leather strap or wooden paddle by another person. The law is as stated in the Cyclopedia of Law and Procedure:

"As a general rule a school teacher, in an far as it may be reasonably necessary to the maintenance of the discipline and efficiency of the school, and to compel a compliance with reasonable rules and regulations, may inflict reasonable corporal punishments upon a pupil for insubordination, disobedience, or other misconduct, . The infliction of corporal punishment by a teacher is largely within his discretion; but he must exercise sound discretion and judgment in determining the necessity for corporal punishment and the reasonableness thereof, under the varying circumstances of each particular case, and must adapt the punishment to the nature of the offense and to the age and mental condition and personal attributes of the offending pupil, and, considering the circumstances and conditions of the particular offense and pupil, the punishment must not be inflicted with such force or in such manner as to cause it to be cruel or excessive, or wanton or malicious." 35 Cyc. 1137.

Whether the punishment inflicted was cruel or excessive, or wanton or malicious is a question for the courts, to be decided by a jury after considering the circumstances and conditions of the particular punishment in question.

Very respectfully,
P. J. Lucey, Attorney General.


Leather prison paddle

November 2 2011, 3:59 AM 

There is clear evidence that both wood and leather paddles were used on slaves and later for prison discipline. The punishments were often very severe and various investigations were conducted: The following is an excerpt from one such.


Documents of the Assembly of the State of New York, 1882 v.5.


No. 131

IN ASSEMBLY, May 5, 1882


Page 35-


[. . .]

Q. Have you any knowledge of the amount or degree of punishment inflicted in the prison?
A. Yes, sir; a general knowledge.

Q. Does it take place under your observation?
A. No, sir, it does not.

Q. Never?
A. No, sir.

Q. You have never seen a case of punishment?
A. Yes, I have seen a case of punishment.

Q. Then punishment does take place under your observation?
A. I have seen punishment inflicted.

Q. Have you witnessed the punishment of paddling?
A. Yes, sir, I have.

Q. Will you describe it to the committee?
A. Well, the prisoner is usually handcuffed, and the handcuffs hooked over a hook in the wall, and he is spanked with a leather paddle.

Q. With a leather paddle?
A. Yes, sir.

Q. Give us an idea of the size and weight of the paddle?
A. Well, I could draw it.

Mr. Clapp It is a leather strap?
A. Yes.

By Mr. Keyes:
Q. About how long is it?
A. The flat parts about that width (Indicating the width.)

Q. About four inches wide?
A. Yes, sir ; and the flat part is about a foot long, and the handle about sixteen inches.

Q. How thick is the leather?
A. About the ordinary thickness of the leather.

Q. Of sole leather?
A. Yes, sir.

Q. How long is the handle?
A. I should think about a foot or sixteen inches ; that is simply a continuation of the leather.

Q. Who are present during the infliction of the punishment? Please state whether the flat part of the paddle is punctured with holes?
A. No, sir ; I never saw any to be used in that way.

Q. Please state who are present ordinarily on the infliction of such punishment?
A. The principal keeper.

Q. Is he always present?
A. He always is whenever I have seen it; I suppose he always is in the room, and also the doctor.

Q. You have been present?
A. Yes, sir.

Q. What was the occasion of your being present?
A. I simply happened to be there in the keeper's office; I never went there out of curiosity ; I simply happened to be there.

Q. And was the punishment in such cases generally inflicted on your complaint?
A. No, sir; no man has ever been paddled on my complaint.

Q. Is there a limit as to the number of strokes allowed to be inflicted?
A. That I couldn't say.

Q. Practically how many strokes are given as far as you know?
A. I have seen one upwards to eight.

Q. Not more than eight?
A. I couldn't say of my own knowledge; I don't know that I ever saw punishment where I thought it exceeded eight.

Q. What is the appearance of the person of the convict after the strokes of the paddle?
A. I don't know that I ever paid much attention to that.

Q. What are the immediate results?
A. Well it appears to be a rather painful infliction.

Q. Is blood often drawn?
A. I have never seen blood drawn.

Q. Is the flesh discolored?
A. I never have seen that; I should think possibly it might be.

Q. Did you ever see the convict several hours or two or three days after the infliction of the punishment?
A. No, sir; I don't know that I ever did.

Q. Only during the immediate time of the infliction?
A. Yes, sir.

Q. What is the office of the surgeon or physician on such occasions?
A. As I understand it he is there to see that the punishment is not too severe.

Q. Does it cease upon his direction?
A. It would if he should give any direction for it to cease; I have never seen a man under punishment where the doctor thought it necessary to stop the punishment.

Q. Do I understand you to say that the blows are inflicted by the principal keeper himself?
A. I have seen the principal keeper himself inflict the blows.

Q. Is it customary for him so to do?
A. I never saw that punishment inflicted, excepting the principal keeper did it.

Q. Is it customary for the convict to cry out as though in pain, during such punishment?
A. Usually; yes, sir.

Q. To what extent do such demonstrations occur?
A. It is rather owing to who the convict is. Some will stand half a dozen blows without crying out, and I have seen others when the first blow is given cry out as though their life depended upon it, and not very serious blows either.

Mr. O'Brien - It depends upon how much game they have got?
A. Yes, sir.

By Mr. Keyes:
Q. The amount of outcry don't depend upon the number of strokes given them?
A. No, sir; nor the severity of the punishment.

Q. The flesh is naked in this punishment?
A. Usually; I have seen it applied with the clothes on, in the ordinary way.

Q. Are there any other kinds of punishment employed in the prison.
A. The dark cell - locking up in the dark cell.

[. . .]


Sing Sing whitewash

November 4 2011, 11:41 PM 

May 23, 1882

Report of the Committee on State Prisons Concerning the Management of the State Prison at Sing Sing


[Assem. Doc. No. 120.]

By resolution of this House your committee were charged with the duty of investigating the charges made against the management of the State prison located a Sing Sing. These charges were, in substance,

"that the prison was run in the interest of the contractors;

that the moral welfare of the convicts is neglected;

that many of them are compelled to work on Sundays;

that certain notorious criminals are treated with distinguished consideration, while others in a sick and enfeebled condition are treated with great severity; and

that other serious evils exist in connection with the management of said prison."

These charges were made by Mr. Elihu E. Campbell, a discharged keeper of the prison, and by certain discharged prisoners, and were extensively published in the New York Herald and other leading papers. Most of the charges related, it is true, to prisoners long since deceased, and reflected rather upon the preceding than upon the present management of the prison. But the gravity of the charges, and the earnestness of those who made and circulated them, seemed to demand an investigation of them. We have, therefore, examined a large number of witnesses, including the warden, physician, principal keeper, and other officers of the prison, ex-keepers, contractors, prisoners and discharged prisoners, in relation to the charges in question, and have carefully considered the same. Our conclusions are embodied in the following propositions:

[. . .]

May 5, 1882

Testimony Taken Before the Assembly Committee on State Prisons in the Investigation of Sing Sing Prison


[Assem. Doc. No. 131.]

American Way

Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

November 5 2011, 4:35 AM 

July 22, 2011 KK gave an excellent account on the Nation's First Reformatory, Elmira, NY. This I hope will give the readers of this estimable Forum some further background and I am sure this is not altogether unfamiliar to our master researcher KK

An almost perfect prison.


Fifty years of prison service: an autobiography By Zebulon Reed Brockway


But some others, the few, were so constituted, or habituated, that they could not, or at least did not and such characters generally do not properly respond to the training methods without the aid of some physical collision that suddenly disturbs the existent prevalent objectionable mood.
Of three measures which are effective for such a purpose, namely, the douche, electricity, and a quickening slap, the last alone was used at the reformatory, and for the following reasons. The difficulty of regulating with precision, the effect of a dash of water to the variant sensitiveness of the different persons, debarred the douche from our service. Electricity was excluded for the same reason, and also, because of its use for the electrocution of criminals, it has acquired a certain stigma; while the slap, or spanking,offensively named "paddling," was chosen for this remedial use because of its safe, easy, accurate adjustment. Since the three instrumentalities have each and all of them been used and become known as means of punishment, and since the notion of punishment is, in the common conception, so associated with them, I venture to repeat that the use of physical compulsion in our reformatory was never for punishment; never used for measuring de- * merit; nor was it ever used with intent to directly affect the subject's free will " to subdue him." No doubt the effect was, sometimes, educative of the judgment, suggestive of what is good or bad policy to pursue, but even that object was not directly in view. Indeed, the conscious immediate object was scarcely an appeal to the intellect at all, or only indirectly so. The immediate purpose was to effect some change in the channels of the mental activities. Any such eruptive change must be helpful to the subject to break away from the bad mood; and might initiate a good change of the habitual conduct. But it is fair to say, as no doubt will be suggested, that the means might not produce the intended effect. However, the management felt themselves recreant to their duty until the effort had been made the experiment had been tried; and so many and such signal successes had been already achieved by this means that there could be no longer any doubt of their duty in the matter.


Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

November 5 2011, 9:52 PM 

School Board Decrees Use of Soft Paddle for Spanking

Special Correspondence, THE NEW YORK TIMES August 30, 1931, page E5

Source: http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=FB0C10FE3F591B728DDDA90B94D0405B818FF1D3


[Snippet] A board of education in I3(?) County has come to a decision. Henceforth the paddle to be used in punishing pupils shall be of soft pine not more than ?? an inch in thickness. Moreover; the ?? of the school is to be at every such operation to see that the specifications are not exceeded. Recently a teacher the ?? of using a heavy paddle upon a ?? and there ?? threats of court action against members of the ...

[Does anyone have access to the complete article?]

It seems unlikely that there would be a difference in effect of "soft" and "hard" woods due to their softness or hardness but their might well be an effect due to the likely difference in density of the woods and hence the weight of the paddles. A softwood might be as hard (deformable) as a hardwood. Both are very much less deformable the human flesh.

Some have been reluctant to be specify instruments to be used for punishment (e.g. Biennial report and opinions of the Attorney General of the state of Illinois above, October 31.) but there seems to have been a contrary trend in recent times. Of course, everyone agrees the punishment should not cause injury or lasting harm but usually without offering any quantitative data on how this is to be achieved.


Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

November 6 2011, 12:08 AM 

Pine Paddles. the only comment I have heard is several southern teachers decrying the use of pine, not for reasons of effect but because it easily dries out and splits along the grain. This could be quite nasty . Hardwoods tend not to do this , I understand .


Oak paddle

November 7 2011, 4:29 AM 

A century or so ago there was a lot of concern about delinquent and neglected children. Schools and homes were set up for their care, with the very best of intentions. Inadequate funding, over crowding, inadequate segregation of criminals from the neglected, and problems with recruiting suitable staff followed. Abuses and cruelty followed. Leather and wooden paddles were used in the state schools and homes. Attempts to moderate the excesses and abuses lead to some early attempts to regulate corporal punishment. It is possible ordinary schools later modeled their CP practices and rules on the State regulations.




Page 1774-

[Report on the] St. Charles School for Boys

[Illinois State Home for Delinquent Boys]

[. . .]

It may be stated at the outset that corporal punishment is forbidden by the long existing rules of the institution, adopted by the board of trustees. In lieu of corporal punishment there is provided a set of demerit marks and various forms of discipline other than brutal chastisement. Not only does the testimony of the officers charged with the care of these boys show flagrant violation of the rules and the instructions of the trustees regarding corporal punishment, but punishments have been inflicted on these friendless waifs, without system, intelligence or moderation. The spirit of force rather than of kindness seems to prevail.

The house father, the disciplinarian and the superintendent alike indiscriminately administered corporal punishment. The most usual form of punishment is administered by means of a paddle, described by one of the house fathers, Mr. Wiley, as "an oak paddle about four inches wide and about eighteen to twenty inches long, carried down to a handle, probably one-half inch thick." (Record, page 9039).

The paddle is usually applied to the boys after they have retired. The boys in thin cotton night robes were required to bend forward and to circle around the officer while he wielded the paddle on their unprotected bodies. The horsewhip and other convenient instruments of punishment have been employed to enforce discipline. (Record, pages 9042 and 9043). According to the testimony of witnesses, violent and obscene epithets have been applied to some of the boys during punishment. (Record, pages 8960, 8961, 9081).

A short time following the appointment of the superintendent, Charles N. Hart, who was appointed March 6, 1906, there was instituted a cage (or solitary). During the fall of 1906 a case of horsewhipping of certain of the boys who had attempted to run away was reported to Governor Deneen. Mr. Hurley, president of the board of trustees, testified in reference to this case, "The first intimation I had was that time when Colonel Davis reported this horsewhipping and this cage; and Governor Deneen, in the presence of Mr. Hart, in Colonel Davis' office in Springfield, said he had heard the report, and I remember Colonel Davis said that Mr. Hart said they had the cage and he had used a horsewhip; and at that meeting we abolished the cage and the horsewhip and ordered it removed, ordered the cage removed, and then we passed a rule that there should be no corporal punishment. (Record, page 8967).

Mrs. Hart, the wife of the superintendent, testified, "We had no way of punishing them (the boys) when we came here and corporal punishment was the only mode of punishment. All the officers carried straps, all of them, without exception, carried straps in their pockets, and they did not handle the boys without them. Mr. Hart's method is not that at all, and he called them and asked for the straps and they handed them in at the office- He did not believe in that way of doing it. And it made quite a degree of feeling at first. The officers objected, said they didn't handlecouldn't do it without them." (Record, page 9758).

The general use of the hard, unyielding oak "paddle" is far more brutal than the former strap. That the use of the horsewhip is continued during the administration of the present superintendent seems manifest from the testimony of C. A. Wiley, one of the house fathers, who stated that he witnessed the punishment of John Drake by Ward, who used a "big whip," a buggy whip, and that Drake was "pretty well marked up." (Record page 9043).

We find that the superintendent has not only tolerated and encouraged corporal punishment, but has himself administered the same and in the most public manner. One of the most degrading features of the situation is that the boys were even punished in groups and in the presence of other boys of the institution. One boy was kicked by a house father for praying too long. (Record, page 9144).

Another boy was severely punished by the disciplinarian because he admitted having said, "You will have to go to the priest to get anything out of me." (Record, page 9100).

No corporal punishments appear of record at this institution, and no report of any punishment had been made to the board of trustees by the superintendent or any of his assistants until after reports had come, through a police officer, to the Hon. T. D. Hurley, president of the board of trustees, that there was brutal punishment being administered to the boys at St. Charles; thereupon Mr. Hurley told the officer to bring in the first runaway boy he caught, to let Mr. Hurley see him. (Record, page 8959.)

[. . .]


European penalism as the precursor of fraternity paddling

November 7 2011, 10:20 PM 

European penalism and French paddling was the likely precursor of US hazing and the fraternity paddle. The slave paddle may also have contributed to US fraternity practice.



Page 51-


By Daniel B. Shumway
Professor of German Philology, University of Pennsylvania

To us in this age of universal education and compulsory schooling, when it is a rare thing to find an illiterate person, it seems hard to realize that there was a time in the history of man, and that not much more than a millennium ago, when children did not have to go to school, when they did not have to spend several hours every day in poring over their books, but were free to roam in the open air through the fields and forests; but such was the case. Before the advent of Christianity in Northern Europe, schools, in the strict sense of the word, were unknown. Children were, of course, taught how to use weapons, to hunt, to till the soil or instructed in some useful occupation or means of earning a livelihood, but education, in the way we use it today, did not exist.

[. . .]

Page 67

In France the [initiation] ceremony was somewhat different, the new student being looked upon not as a wild animal, but as a criminal who had to be first tried, then purged of his sins. From the institutes of the University of Avignon we learn that the freshmen had to serve the seniors at table, were not allowed to stand between them and the fire, were not permitted to sit at the first table nor to address each other as "domine" - i. e., sir. Whenever the "beanus" transgressed these rules his punishment consisted of a prescribed number of blows with a wooden paddle. During the purgation at the University of Aix, the "beanus" received three blows with a frying pan or a book from each one present. From a chance allusion we learn that it was the custom at the Sorbonne in Paris to wash the freshmen on Innocents' Day. Previous to the ceremony of washing they had to ride upon donkeys in a procession through the streets of the city.

The university students of that day had not the freedom which they now enjoy. They were, as a rule, somewhat younger than is now the case, the average age of a freshman being from thirteen to sixteen, and they were treated as schoolboys who must be looked after. In fact, the medieval university resembled a big boarding school. The teachers and students, especially of the course in arts, lived together in the university buildings. Each university had several colleges to which the students belonged, just as in England today. When the number of students was too great to be accommodated in the university buildings, the different teachers or masters were allowed to keep boarding houses for the students. As all the living expenses were paid from a common purse - in Latin, "bursa" - the students were called "bursae." This word has survived in the German word "Bursch," meaning a fellow or lad, and in the English "bursar" or "purser," really the keeper of the purse.

[. . .]

American Way

Locust Grove Swimmers

November 7 2011, 11:03 PM 

January 15, 1893


An odd kind of club.


An odd kind of club The Locust Grove Swimmers had a dinner once a year, and each man, whether member or guest, was obliged to eat a whole duck and one complete lemon pie. He who cleaned his plates most effectually was presented with a piece of silver plate. Suspended over the dining table was a great wooden paddle, which was taken down when the toasting began. The significance of this article became apparent when a member in responding to a toast told a story which had been heard before. Another member whistled "Anld Lang Syne" and finished the story, thus proving that he had heard it before, and the paddle was put into vigorous use upon the offender.


Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

November 8 2011, 7:03 PM 

One of the difficulties with researching news reports is the way details are changed to suit the supposed knowledge of the readers. A shingle may become a strap when a story crosses an ocean.


Northern Star (Lismore, NSW) Saturday 4 July 1908, page 9.

1907s Grim Toll. The oddest accidents of the year

[. . .]

Another woman, wife of a miner at a place called Cheboygan, in Michigan, lost her life in an even stranger fashion, her seven-your-old boy had played truant from school, and when he came home she, remembering the old proverb about sparing the rod, chastised him with a strap. At the very first blow there was a fearful explosion. The boy was killed instantly, and his mother received injuries from which she will not recover. Investigation proved that the little fellow had stolen a dynamite cap and slowed it in one of his trousers' pockets. The blow from the strap had exploded it.

[. . .]

Compare: Spanking can be fatal mentioned above.

It is common practice in US schools to require students to empty their pockets before they are paddled.

American Way

Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

November 10 2011, 1:51 AM 

The horn-book could serve a dual function right back to the colonial days..





Search hard enough in Sumner and you might find one of those handheld horn-book wooden paddles from colonial times with printed lessons that served a dual purpose: teach a kid the alphabet with one side of the paddle, teach him or her some manners with the other.


Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

November 10 2011, 3:44 AM 

American Way,

I have speculated about the hornbook before. It seems I am not the first to do so. Unfortunately, the linked documents are not proof.



November 11 2011, 12:18 AM 

The hornbook fell from favour long before the school paddle became popular.

The slave paddle also predates common school use by several decades.

[linked image]

American Way


November 11 2011, 1:30 AM 

They really did fall out of favor years before. It is hard to picture a Puritan teaching spanking a pupil with the Our Father. happy.gif Were hazing paddles common in Europe before the latter part of the 19th century when fraternities started here?



Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

November 11 2011, 2:59 AM 

American Way,

See: http://www.network54.com/Forum/198833/message/1320704418/last-1320975049/ above for the answer to your question.

The European universities were established mainly to train priests for the Church. The paddle may have been used in France.



November 11 2011, 7:36 PM 

I continue my speculations about the origin of the US school paddle and whether or how it might be linked to the slave paddle. Do the holes provide insight?

The slave paddle was perforated to increase its severity according to reliable contemporary accounts. The paddle was supposedly chosen because it did not damage the skin and produce scars but was then modified it seem so that it did damage the skin and cause more pain.

School paddles have also been perforated, presumably to make them hurt more (holes now generally prohibited). An explanation, of dubious aeronautic validity, was that holes reduced the drag in flight and so allowed the paddle to reach higher speed. Or, possibly, the holes worked by reducing air cushion effects just before impact. Or the holes produced "edge effects" and sheared the skin, making the paddle more cane-like in its effects.

It is possible that a knowledge of the slave paddle influenced the design of the school paddle without the latter being a direct derivative of the former.


More holes

November 12 2011, 5:57 AM 


The New York Times
13 February, 1909.

OLD MISSISSIPPI STEAMBOAT DAYS; G.B. Merrick Narrates Picturesque Experiences of Early Days in the Upper Reaches of the Great River [1854 to 1863]

[. . .]

Another delightful man was Billy Wilson, a quiet fellow, who served as mate. Nobody "Tracked on him like he was a swamp." He carried on most occasions a paddle made from a pork barrel stave. The blade of the paddle was full of quarter-inch holes. With this weapon he regulated his crew. For the merely sluggish a light tap answered. "But when the case was one of moroseness or incipient mutiny the same flat paddle, applied by Wilson's powerful muscles with a quick, sharp stroke, would leave a blood blister for every hole in the paddle, and when a drunken riot was to be dealt with, the sharp edge of the paddle on a man's head left nothing more to be done with that man until he 'came to'. "

[. . .]

American Way

Love Affair That Couldn't Compete With The Paddle

November 19 2011, 5:08 AM 

They call it puppy love. KK when did the word shingle give way to the word paddle. It doesn't go away completely but practically speaking when was it stopped being used frequently in references? It could coincide with the demise of the woodshed and rural living?


American Way

Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

November 21 2011, 6:42 AM 

Here is an example of the use of the word shingle from Norwich New York, not an urban area.



Rural Kentucky

November 26 2011, 7:25 PM 

Reported by American Way here


Tales from Kentucky one-room school teachers

By William Lynwood Montell.

University Press of Kentucky, 12/01/2011 - Education - 293 pages

In an educational era defined by large school campuses and overcrowded classrooms, it is easy to overlook the era of one-room schools, when teachers filled every role, including janitor, and provided a family-like atmosphere in which children also learned from one another. In Tales from Kentucky One-Room School Teachers, William Lynwood Montell reclaims an important part of Kentucky's social, cultural, and educational heritage, assembling a fun and fascinating collection of schoolroom stories that chronicle a golden era in Kentucky.

The firsthand narratives and anecdotes in this collection cover topics such as teacher-student relationships, day-to-day activities, lunchtime foods, students' personal relationships, and, of course, the challenges of teaching in a one-room school. Montell includes tales about fund-raising pie suppers, pranks, outrageous student behavior (such as the quiet little boy whose first "sharing" involved profanity), and variety of other topics. Montell even includes some of his own memories from his days as a pupil in a one-room school. Tales from Kentucky One-Room School Teachers is a delightful glimpse of the history of education.

Snippets of oral history from old time, (mainly?) female teachers from small rural schools interviewed in 2008 and covering the period from the 1930's (?) up to the 1950s or 60s. The hand, ruler, paddle (13 mentions) and switch (7) but not the cane, shingle or strap are mentioned.

Teachers were poorly paid and few men entered the profession. Possibly, the women used similar punishments in school as at home. Paddles were common household items, as were wooden spoons, hair brushes, etc.


Another American Way find

November 26 2011, 9:25 PM 


The Salt Lake Herald, 21 December 1899, page 4, column 4.

Tried the Switch On His Own Leg

Denver News

"Six or eight years ago," said Attorney General Walker of New York the other day at the Brown Palace "Senator Beveridge was practicing law in Indianapolis when a school mistress who was a member or Meridian Street church was arrested for whipping a boy. Beveridge was a member at the same congregation and he offered to defend her as a personal friend. One of the points brought out against the teacher was that she had raised welts upon the pupil's legs.

"Beveridge possesses a great deal of dignity and under ordinary circumstances he maintains that sort of an attitude but this was a time for unbending and he knows how to get down of his perch and get next to the people if he wants to. The young attorney got possession of the very switch the schoolmarm had used on the unruly youngster and took it into court. In the midst of his argument he furnished such a surprise as is rarely given to a juryman.

" 'You have heard a great deal of talk gentlemen of the jury,' began Beveridge about the immense welts this petite woman has raised upon the leg of this young upstart over on the other side or the room. I wish to protest that it takes a very slight blow from a birch stick to raise a welt and I could so on any one of you without causing the least tremor of pain. Is there anyone of you gentlemen who would like to expose the calf or his leg for a few moments that I may have a chance to demonstrate my contention?'

"Counsel for the school teacher paused for a minute. The jurymen blushed and looked nervously at each other. Then he reached down and pulled up his own trouser leg in the presence of the court. After administering several weak blows on the calf, he exhibited several good-size welts on the cuticle, passing himself along to the twelve jurymen that they might get to look at the exhibit. That was enough. Beveridge won his case and he got a unanimous verdict."


This is hearsay. The Salt Lake Herald reports what the Denver News reported about what Attorney General Walker of New York said Senator Beveridge said and did in an unnamed court at an specified time. Nevertheless, it is of interest in identifying welts as problematic.

American Way

Re: A paddle must be used for "paddling"

January 15 2012, 2:53 PM 

January 24, 2011

Follow Up:

Broad Paddle, Not Hickory, Recommended for Spanking

Bonham Daily Favorite May 7, 1950


The regulations will prevent a teacher from wiping away the sting of a paper wad with one hand while reaching for his paddle with the other.

American Way

Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

January 17 2012, 12:40 AM 

1913. JUDGE JOHN E. HUMPHRIES. And there ought to be holes bored in the paddle. Favors spanking for cruel husbands. One and then another 30 days later to have the lesson sink in would be about right. Left hand column - second story.


American Way

Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

January 18 2012, 6:39 PM 

KK for the benefit of this thread I am transferring this from holding out the book one. In the United States you cannot get much closer than the flapper to a paddle, nor an instrument of discipline that early in our history.



Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

January 18 2012, 7:48 PM 

The following is the item reported by American Way:



A Story of the Pilgrim Settlement


Page 140-

It must be set down that he was not indolent when it seemed to him that one of us should be punished. As Captain Standish said, after he had looked into the room to see James Billington whipped for having been idle, the teacher ' 'had a rare brain for inventing instruments for discipline."

It was the flapper which the captain had seen in use upon James, and surely it must have caused great pain when laid on with all Master Lyford's strength. A piece of tanned buckskin, six inches square, with a round hole in the middle large enough for me to thrust my thumb through, fastened to a wooden handle, this was the flapper , and when it was brought down heavily upon one's bare flesh, a blister was raised the full size of the hole in the leather.

[linked image]

He had also a tattling stick, which was made of half a dozen thick strips of deer hide fastened to a short handle, and when he flogged the children with it, they were forced to lie down over a log hewn with a sharp edge at the top. This sharp edge of wood, together with the blows from the stout thongs, caused great pain.

Master Lyford was not always so severe in his punishment. He had whispering-sticks, which were thick pieces of wood to be placed in a child's mouth until it was forced wide open, and then each end of the stick was tied securely at the back of the scholar's neck in such a way that he could make no manner of noise. Sarah wore one of these nearly two hours because of whispering to me, and when it was taken out, the poor child could not close her jaws until I had rubbed them gently during a long while.

Then there was the single-legged stool, upon which it was most tiring to sit, and this was given to the child who would not keep still upon his bench. I was forced to use it during one whole hour, because of drumming my feet upon the floor when the cold was most bitter, and the fire would not burn owing to the wood being so wet. It truly seemed to me, before the punishment was come to an end, as if my back had been broken.

Master Lyford was also provided with five or six dunce's caps, made of birch bark, on which were painted in fair letters such names as ''Tell-Tale," ''Bite-Finger-Baby," "Lying Ananias," ''Idle Boy," and other ugly words.

However, I dare say this was for good, and went far toward aiding us in our studies. Master Allerton declares that there are no truer words in the Book, than those which teach us that to spare the rod is to spoil the child, and surely we of Plymouth were not spoiled in such manner by Master Lyford, nor by the other teachers who came to us later.


Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

January 20 2012, 9:45 PM 

Slaves were "cobbed" in the Southern States of the USA in the early days. "Cobbing" was also known in the Royal Navy (and probably also the French) at about the same time, and possibly long before.


A punishment sometimes inflided at sea. It is performed by striking the offender a certain number of times on the breech with a flat piece of wood called the cobbing-board. It is chiefly used as a punishment to those who quit their station during the period of the night-watch.

The above is an excerpt from:

An universal dictionary of the marine: or, A copious explanation of the technical terms and phrases employed in the construction, equipment, furniture, machinery, movements, and military operations of a ship. Illustrated with variety of original designs of shipping, in different situations; together with separate views of their masts, sails, yards, and rigging. To which is annexed, a translation of the French sea-terms and phrases, collected from the works of Mess. du Hamel, Aubin, Saverien, &c. By William Falconer.

Published in London, 1780



Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

January 21 2012, 12:43 AM 

An excerpt from:

A classical dictionary of the vulgar tongue
by Francis Grose, London,1788.

Cob or Cobbing

A punishment used by the seamen for petty offences, or irregularities, among themselves: it consists in bastonado-ing the offender on the posteriors with a cobbing stick, or pipe staff; the number usually inflicted, is a dozen. At the first stroke the executioner repeats the word watch, on which all persons present are to take off their hats, on pain of like punishment: the last stroke is always given as hard as possible, and is called the purse. Ashore, among soldiers, where this punishment is sometimes adopted, watch and the purse are not included in the number, but given over and above, or, in the vulgar phrase, free gratis for nothing. This piece of discipline is also inflicted in Ireland, by the school boys, on persons coming into the school without taking off their hats; it is there called school butter.



Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

January 21 2012, 10:52 AM 

KK :
A punishment sometimes inflicted at sea. It is performed by striking the offender a certain number of times on the breech with a flat piece of wood called the cobbing-board. It is chiefly used as a punishment to those who quit their station during the period of the night-watch."

Should any employees of Costa Cruises be concerned?

de Wolf

Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

January 21 2012, 12:22 PM 

There appears to be several types of paddles. Perhaps it is a teachers preference, or a standard issue to a particular school?

American Way

University of Missouri 1934

January 23 2012, 5:20 AM 

The freshman paddled the sophomores (turned the tables). The sophomore trousers were stripped in front of tittering co-eds. The police did not use their tear gas for they were use to this behavior.




Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

February 11 2012, 10:16 PM 

A list of and hyperlinks to Reports of the (US) Commissioner of Education from 1867.http://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/010177542



Corporal punishment:
1886/87: p.228
1896/97, vol.2: p.1537. http://hdl.handle.net/2027/uc1.b3970212?urlappend=%3Bseq=415
1899/00, vol.2: p.2578-80
1900/01, vol.2: p.2402-4
1902, vol.2: p.2385-86
1903, vol.2: p.2452-54
1904, vol.2: p.2285-87
1905, vol.1: p.205-6
1906, vol.1: p.221-23.
legal conditions, 1897/98, vol.2: p.1701-2.
Russia, 1899/00, vol.1: p.878-83.

American Way

Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

February 12 2012, 2:40 AM 

KK. Thanks again for sharing your references. Arizona's corporal punishment policy (4th paragraph) seems quite progressive by today's standards. It requires the transparency and accountability that some corporal punishment practitioners here would loathe.




School Punishments - Historically Considered

February 21 2012, 12:39 AM 

This may have been cited before. It describes a time long before the paddle became popular.


English Pedagogy - Old and New: or, Treatises and Thoughts on Education, the School, and the Teacher in English Literature.
Second Series. Republished from Barnaud's Americal Journal of Education. 608 pages.

Edited by Henry Barnard.
Brown & Gross: Hartford. 1876. $3.50

Chapter VIII School Punishments - Historically Considered

pages 325-336.

American Way

Six Swats For A Six-Year-Old Modesty

March 20 2012, 7:44 PM 

1930. Indictment. Defense. Acquittal. Mrs. Myrta Bardley. She was a young teacher. Mary Gerhardinger was a younger miscreant IMHO.





The "paddle" known in Scotland

April 7 2012, 1:24 AM 

One method of unravelling history is to search the general literature for passing or detailed mentions of the item, subject or event of interest. I found the following:

Weir [family] of Hermiston by Robert Louis Stevenson. Published 1896,

[Chapter] 2. KIRSTIE

[. . .]

To Kirstie, thus situate and in the Indian summer of her heart, which was slow to submit to age, the gods sent this equivocal good thing of Archie's presence. She had known him in the cradle and paddled him when he misbehaved; and yet, as she had not so much as set eyes on him since he was eleven and had his last serious illness, the tall, slender, refined, and rather melancholy young gentleman of twenty came upon her with the shock of a new acquaintance. He was "Young Hermiston," "the laird himsel' ": he had an air of distinctive superiority, a cold straight glance of his black eyes, that abashed the woman's tantrums in the beginning, and therefore the possibility of any quarrel was excluded# He was new, and therefore immediately aroused her curiosity; he was reticent, and kept it awake# And lastly he was dark and she fair, and he was male and she female, the everlasting fountains of interest#


The above use of "paddled" was initially puzzling. Did the Scots use the paddle or is he using the word to mean "smacked"? RLS spent time in the USA and may have learnt about paddling there? However ...

Robert Lois Stevenson attended the Edinburgh Academy (a high school) 1861-63 where the ball game hails was played using a bat called a clacken or clackan. The bat was used by the prefects to punish boys.

The clacken, or clackan, is described in the Scottish National Dictionary as "a wooden hand-bat or racquet used by boys at the Edinburgh Academy and Royal High School". It is used play Hailes.

The design of the clacken, as described in the Encyclopaedia of Sport in 1898 as "a piece of wood about 18 inches long and has a head about 4 inches wide and 1/2 inch thick; just short of the head, the bat is thinned down to about 1/4 inch from back to front, and again the head is thinned off towards the tip to make it easier to raise the ball from the ground."

Engraving from Sir Walter Scott's "Tales of a Grandfather."



Paddle not mentioned

July 10 2012, 1:50 AM 

Regulation of school CP probably occurred mainly after education became compulsory. In the early days court rulings established what was acceptable and what was not.

A manual of common school law, by C. W. Bardeen


[Charles William Bardeen (1847 1924) was an American educator and publisher. He devoted his career to improve the education system of the United States.]

4th edition, 1896. Syracuse, NY.

Chapter X. Corporal punishment. pages 180-194

Various court cases that established the law are mentioned. These cases include mentions of rods (6), switches (1), rulers (4), sidings (1), canes (1) and laths (1) but no paddles (0) or straps (0). Either paddles and straps were little used in US schools or their use was not controversial.

Excerpt, page 193:

(iv) In Nov., 1894, Miss Canfield, a teacher in the school at Marcellus, missed two cents from her desk, and believed a pupil named Charles E. George stole it. She testified that the boy had a new lead pencil, and told four conflicting stories as to how he got it. She reported him to Principal M. I. Hunt, who testified the boy also told him such conflicting stories that he finally took the boy down into the basement and spanked him with a piece of pine wood 15 to 18 inches long, 1.5 inches wide, and a quarter-inch thickin other words a piece of lath.

American Way

The dreaded switch and chain gangs

July 28 2012, 7:35 PM 

It only took a jury one minute to put Principal Isaac Hughes into a chain gang.

Miss Bertha Winch, 15, a good looking and well developed for her age girl. What if she were not? What difference does it make?


Here attributes are not mentioned here.


My kind of chain gang.



Real Life Female Chain Gang. Daily Mail a "high brow" British newspapers not at all like Murdochs. Who are these guys who search out for these titillating stories?




Dunno what the "The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA" connection is, but

July 28 2012, 8:18 PM 

American Way said above:

Daily Mail a "high brow" British newspaper

Amazing! I didn't think Americans had a sense of humour!

Lotta Nonsense

Chain Gangs

July 28 2012, 8:20 PM 

[linked image]

American Way

Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

July 28 2012, 9:17 PM 

Sorry about the earliest paddle. I wanted instrument of correction as in the dreaded switch. I haven't done the math but there seems to be more stories about SCP in the USA between 1900 to 1910. Maybe because newspapers became more prolific or more digitize. Does anyone difficulty accessing back years of newspapers. I am glad I figured away to circumvent the problem that threatened my frequents postings.


Newspaper coverage

September 27 2012, 10:13 PM 

American Way:

Sorry about the earliest paddle. I wanted instrument of correction as in the dreaded switch. I haven't done the math but there seems to be more stories about SCP in the USA between 1900 to 1910. Maybe because newspapers became more prolific or more digitized. Does anyone difficulty accessing back years of newspapers? I am glad I figured away to circumvent the problem that threatened my frequent postings.

Before the advent of television and radio, newspapers were the only source of public news. Early newspapers carried a lot of detailed information about local events. A wide range of ordinary people read them carefully.

Old newspapers are of very great historical interest and value including the advertisements, editorials and letters to the editor. They allow news to be seen in its social context.

Newspaper coverage of events is very uneven. Certain matters are considered more newsworthy than others are. The news is dominated by the extraordinary and the controversial rather than the ordinary. Everyday events are not news so are little reported. Human interest, items borrowed from other papers and other soft news was often used to fill gaps on the page.

School news tended to be reported in the early days of compulsory education. Not everyone approved and many were interested in the details. Newspapers grew in importance as literacy increased, a consequence of compulsory education.

The saving of newspapers was uneven. Some newspapers retained copies of their publications, as did many public libraries. The saved copies were sometimes in new condition or rather tattered and worn having been recovered from public reading rooms. The storage conditions of the saved newspapers varied.

Many newspapers and other publications were microfilmed in the 1950s and 60s as conservation and space saving measure. The coverage of the available publications was not uniform or universal. The quality of the microfilming varied. It was tedious task, often done under time pressure by unmotivated labour. Since, the microfilm has been digitalized, again not necessarily systematically.

Google does not have access to all digital material. Optical character recognition (OCR) requires clean legible text if it is to be accurate. Old newspapers often give poor OCR results. However, keywords used in searches often appear several times in a news item. This may allow one correct recognition and so allow important items to be found.

The digital records are not all available free online even when the original newspaper is no longer protected by copyright. Photographic and digital copies may be proprietary even when the original is not.

The above is not entirely satisfactory but things are very much better than in pre Internet days. Manual searching of microfilm is extremely tedious and laborious.


Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

September 28 2012, 5:14 AM 

American Way's response can be found here


A book with a short section on paddles

October 6 2012, 7:54 PM 

The following book purports to give some background on the origins of the paddle. I think it is more a collection of interesting snippets than a coherent history of the paddle. It suggests, probably correctly, that paddles and the like were used by those who did not want to cause lasting injuries and / or visible marks on their victims.

Torture and Democracy

By Darius M. Rejali, Princeton University Press, 2007. Details: http://press.princeton.edu/titles/8490.html

The following excerpt is taken from Chapter 12, pages 271-3. http://books.google.com/books?id=L8QLvrX-iL0C&pg=PA271


Paddling makes deep bruises that will clear in a few weeks without any visible injury. "The punishment is dreadfully severe, but for all no blood is drawn."(note 26) To strike more painfully, beaters perforated the paddle with several holes. Solid paddles trapped the air between the flat head and the flesh, cushioning the blows.
[Unsubstantiated conjecture. Other mechanisms may prevail]

Paddling was originally a nautical punishment, mainly for minor offenses such as quitting one's station during night watch. Among English sailors, "to cob" meant to strike or fight, and "cobbing" meant to strike the buttocks with a flat instrument.(27) The "cobbing board" was a flat piece of wood. Customarily, this was a stave of the cask with the bung-hole, a hole drilled into the cask for pouring out the liquid within. The stave would be cut in two and the beater would use the bung-hole end to strike the buttocks. Alternatively, sailors used a stocking full of sand, sometimes wet, to administer blows.(28)

The French also paddled, calling the instrument the baton de justice.(29) In the 1920s, French investigators cobbed every witness in piracy cases in Korea using instruments "rather like a canoe paddle or a thick cricket bat, on a part where he could not be injured, but where the bruises would show up beautifully."(30) Ostensibly, witnesses insisted on this beating, arguing that bruises would allow there give information on river piracy while telling their neighbors that the French had extracted the information under torture.

In an age where ships were the primary means of transportation, nautical punishments were soon imitated on land. British officers cobbed infantrymen for petty offenses, and Irish schoolchildren were paddled for failing to remove their hats, becoming the first of many schoolchildren to be cobbed.(31) During the Revolutionary War, American officers cobbed soldiers for crimes "characterized by meanness and low cunning."(32) Slave dealers also paddled slaves. American and Brazilian slave owners preferred the whip for plantation work and major offenses, but they used paddles for minor crimes and household discipline.(33) Some American prisons also used paddles in the late nineteenth century to intimidate as well as punish prisoners for poor contract work.(34) British sailors cobbed young trainees for being slow to leave the mess hall in the evening ("fork in the bean").(35) Most judicial cobbing, at land or at sea, ceased by the late nineteenth century, but paddling persisted into the twentieth century in fraternity hazing, military initiations, domestic castigation, and S-M games.

By the early nineteenth century, beaters carved paddles with shuttle necks, and many paddles had perforated heads. The Brazilian palmatoria, the American military paddle, and the slave-cobbing paddle all had several auger holes.(36) The paddles ranged in size from the size of tennis rackets to oars and included battledores, large flat paddle-like instruments used for putting bread in the oven. The largest were made of oak or hickory. They were two to three feet long, four to six inches wide at the head, with handles about a foot long. Modern palmatorias sometimes use rubber heads rather than the traditional wooden ones.(37)

Until the twentieth century, what mattered in paddling was the lack of permanent injury, not necessarily the fact that one could escape detection by outside observers. Many slave owners wet and sanded paddles before use, a practice that would definitely leave marks. Mrs. Mann of Missouri was famous for her occasionally lethal "six pound paddle."(38) Some prison paddles were filed to leave deep cuts.(39)

Stealthiness mattered most to slave dealers, who may have invented the perforated paddle for economic reasons.(40) A scarred slave was a troublesome one, and no one wanted to purchase trouble. The dealers used cobbing paddles and flopping paddles, the "flop" being a piece of leather a foot and one-half long and as broad as the palm of the hand, with a two-foot handle. These devices were used for "various offenses, especially the unpardonable one of 'not speaking up and looking bright and smart' when the buyers were choosing."(41)

Police turned to cobbing in the twentieth century . . . .

(The notes are not accessible online.)

American Way

Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

October 7 2012, 3:27 AM 

Mrs Mann of Missouri, mentioned in past posting, did not escape the attention of Jeff Charles. I prefer going earlier source as in 1842. About half way down first column.




Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

October 10 2012, 5:43 AM 

The following excerpt from an outline of a recently published (1911) autobiography suggests "paddling" meaning "spanking" was well engrained by 1911. It does not indicate where the paddle was used only that most readers would understand the use of the term.

The Sun. March 05, 1911, Page 2, col. 1


[. . .]

Dr Emmet, like many other gifted men, did not shine as a luminary in school. He frankly confesses that he never developed the faculty of acquiring knowledge by so-called study without the aid of another. When the dominie in the Virginia cornfield school house paddled him with the ruler by way of inducing him to apply himself to the spelling book he flung a large stone inkstand at his head and bolted for the door. The only variation in this dally programme lay in the choice of a missile, which ranged from the Latin dictionary to the spittoon.

[. . .]


Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

October 11 2012, 11:32 PM 

It is now nearly two years since I started the thread. A lot of interesting material has been gathered. However, it is still quite unclear when and why the paddle became almost ubiquitous in the USA.

There may have been more than one pathway but there is no evidence for this.

A desire not to leave marks was probably an important element in the adoption of the paddle.

American Way

Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

October 12 2012, 1:55 AM 

Desire not to leave marks? That is an argument that the anti-CP zealots harp on. Slavery auction day prices went down if a prospective buyer saw lash marks indicating a hard to control slave. The paddle was painful to impart a lesson without drawing attention to his order shortcomings. Do you preclude that to be or not be more like to be case? Does your observation that the desire not to leave marks lend credence to that argument?


Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

October 12 2012, 7:56 PM 

American Way,

I am not sure if I understand your question.

I was not around in the days of slavery but my understanding is that a number of reliable independent contemporary commentators reported the desire of owners, when punishing slaves, not to leave marks so as not to affect their resale value. It is certainly a plausible claim.

The book by Darius Rejali on torture and democracy, cited above, makes it clear that not leaving evidence of torture is a current concern of governments and their agencies who use "enhanced interrogation techniques" when attempting to extract information from prisoners and suspects.

It is also clear, from present day school CP guidelines and news reports, that paddling should not bruise or cause more than short duration reddening. It is very hard for mothers to complain if there is no physical evidence of trauma.

American Way

KK. Not clear?

October 13 2012, 1:28 AM 

The instrument of correction being used on other than a family member was a paddle and that became a popular instrument for its lack of marks in a slave auction context. Schools may have appropriated its use, not for the avoidance of marks, but as a convenient carry over for disciplining obstreperous pupils. Does that obfuscate or clarify or both? You started this thread and contributed from your resourcefulness and hard work for our betterment. Thank you. American Way.


Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

October 13 2012, 4:16 AM 

America Way,

I can tell you the names of the men who decided how primary school children were to be punished in the "North Canterbury" education district of NZ, and the date or their decision.

I know why school CP was regulated and what happened subsequently.

This information is available in contemporary newspaper reports and correspondence, augmented by government regulations.

I personally experienced the specified punishment, strapped hands, more than a half century later.

The situation concerning the widespread adoption of the paddle in US schools is very much less certain. I am seeking good "primary sources". I have noted the requirements for good historical research previously. See, for example here.

I have previously outlined the main theories as to how the school paddle might have come into use (repeated below). Cobbing aboard ship probably should be added to the diagram but it is very unlikely it is directly linked to school CP. A further remote possibility is that immigrants from an unknown country brought the practice with them, and it spread.

[linked image]


Safety Paddle ?

October 13 2012, 7:26 AM 


Eugene Register-Guard - Jul 17, 1953, page 9A, col. 5.

Man invents soft paddle to avoid injuring Junior

By HARMAN W. NICHOLS, United Press staff Writer

WASHINGTON - Something shocking has happened to the spare-the-rod-spoil-the-child method of fetching up our young.

A man by the name of George F. Jorgenson of Norfolk, Va., has invented what he calls a "paddle for disciplining children" - a thing that doesn't hurt very much.

The paddle looks something like a tennis racket and Jorgenson says it is for "disciplining children without causing bodily injury thereto." The business end of the gimmick is quite broad "and covers a considerable area".


Roughly, it works this way. The old man gets junior over his knee in the accepted manner and lots fly. If his temper is up and his right arm is too strong, a hinge in the middle of the paddle handle gives way. No damage, to speak of, is done.

Jorgenson says that his invention prevents "accidental injury to the child."


My father didn't go in for the broad method. He was strictly a flat-hand, pants-down, paddler. I don't recall ever being seriously injured, But I've got my memories.

Dad once told me, after I outgrew him and paddling, that he had his own system. When his hand got redder than the part to which he had been applyin it, he just stopped. After he had rested awhile, he would give another treatment.

Actually he wasn't too severe.


The only way such a hinge could work as a moderating influence is by limiting the force applied to accelerate of the paddle. It would encourage long stroke - lots of "windup" to get the device to stinging speed.


Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

October 26 2012, 1:23 AM 

Immigrants often bring their attitudes and customs with them. They can have a major influence on their new country depending upon their numbers. It is possible this is how the school paddle arrived in the USA. I have no evidence to support this speculation at present.

The following pie chart shows where US immigrants came from over the formative 120 years from 1820. The proportions coming from the listed countries will have varied greatly over the period. There is no information to hand as to where the immigrants settled. The southern paddling states are of particular interest.

Was the paddle known in Germany or Italy?

[linked image]


Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

October 26 2012, 9:53 PM 

I have been exploring the possibility that the school paddle might have been bought to the USA by a migrant group. I have not found any evidence for this. Indeed, the evidence seems to suggest that the main immigrant groups did not bring paddling with them as they mainly settled in the states where the school paddle was or is little used. Further, I have found no suggestion of the paddle being popular in their countries of origin.

German migrants are concentrated in North Dakota, Wisconsin, South Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota, Iowa and other northern states although there were concentrations in parts of Texas. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_American

From 1880 to 1920, an estimated 4 million Italian immigrants arrived in the United States, the majority from 1900 to 1914. They were generally very poor and took a long time to gain influence. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Italian_American

See also:



If the masses did not bring the paddle to the USA, perhaps it was brought by teachers recruited from the home country, after the immigrants had become established?

Who established education in the paddling states?


Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

October 28 2012, 11:26 PM 

I first considered the school paddle as a possible result or byproduct of the Progressive Era two years ago (see here). I am becoming increasingly convinced this was the case although I still have no documentary evidence for the conjecture.

The lack of documents is not too surprising if the move to the paddle was the result of decisions made at the local level at different times and places, a bottom-up process rather than one imposed by higher levels of government. Education was and is very much a local matter in the USA. Local school board minutes and regulations from about 100 years ago, not accessible on the Internet, may provide the proof.

The Progressive Era in the United States was a period of social activism and political reform that flourished from the 1890s to the 1920s. It corresponded to a period of increased urbanization, industrialization, literacy and women's suffrage. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Progressive_Era

Initially, the progressive movement operated chiefly at local levels. It later expanded to state and national levels. Progressives drew support from the middle class, including lawyers, teachers, physicians, ministers and business people.


The Progressives worked hard to reform and modernize the schools at the local level. The era was notable for a dramatic expansion in the number of schools and students served, especially in the fast-growing metropolitan cities. After 1910, the smaller cities began building high schools. By 1940, 50% of young adults had earned a high school diploma. The result was the rapid growth of the educated middle class, who typically were the grass roots supporters of progressive measures. During the Progressive Era, many states began passing compulsory schooling laws.

Not all teachers and school managers welcomed increased parental involvement in education (amateurs!), or all of the proposed changes. They had to deal with reluctant learners and parents who did not support compulsory education either because it deprived them of free labour or because they objected to others having influence over the childrens development.

I suggest that idealistic new teachers, especially females, were inclined towards milder forms of corporal punishment if it could not be avoided. The remainder sort to avoid antagonizing parents and the do-gooders by using punishments that did not leave marks. The paddle, known from the days of slavery, to fraternity graduates, and possibly from the practice of using common domestic items for corporal punishment at home, slowly became the instrument of choice in many US schools.

David B. Tyack, The One Best System: A History of American Urban Education (Harvard University Press, 1974) reviews the context and nature of the changes but does not seem to discuss corporal punishment. (The term is absent from the books index.) http://books.google.com/books?id=9gkiYzmk1gkC

There is no evidence that immigrants, or imported teachers, brought the school paddle to the USA.


Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

October 29 2012, 2:09 AM 

Power and the Promise of School Reform: Grassroots Movements During the Progressive Era

William J. Reese, Teachers College Press, 2002. http://books.google.com/books?id=KHjvM84h-6YC

The book contains 7 mentions of "corporal punishment" as shown in the excerpts below. These suggest that women were active in trying to have corporal punishment abolished in schools. This may have lead to the use of the paddle as an implement that left less evidence behind.

Page 12

Discipline, self-control, adherence to rules and regulations: these things mattered greatly - schools that stressed deference to authority, sanctioned corporal punishment, and tried to integrate apathetic or hostile elements of the community into a single educational system.

The creation of a uniform, standardized curriculum was an essential part of early school reform, and it, too, was the source of continual controversy and debate in the Victorian period. Parents, particularly poor parents, were often criticized for sending their children to school dirty and without the rudiments of scholarship: pencils, paper, and maps. More significant, some parents fought for freedom of choice in the curriculum at a time when elite reformers sought uniformity in learning. More than a dozen years after the formation of the Milwaukee school system, the board of education regrettably revealed that parents still opposed a graded . . .


Page 46

Greenwood blasted parents for not appreciating the value of military form as a central part of "character training." During such emergencies as fires, he argued, parents would certainly applaud "instant obedience and military movement" that would "save lives and prevent the disastrous trampling of a mob." Moreover, discipline, corporal punishment, and toeing the line #that is, aligning toes to the lines formed by wooden floors# prepared children for the rough and tumble of the competitive world. Greenwood then calculated the exact number of hours children spent at home instead of at school, supposedly proving that parents were primarily responsible for such maladies as the Saint Vitus's dance."

Page 47-8

Women had similar problems with the school administration in Milwaukee. The appointed, ward-based school board, formed a phalanx against the Woman's School Alliance and the new education. Only a handful of men broke ranks and supported the women. In the 1890s Alliance members regularly attended school board meetings, where they petitioned, better sanitary methods, the adoption of manual training and domestic science, nature study, and the abolishment of corporal punishment. Many of their programs were aimed at freeing children from some of the book-oriented aspects of schooling and to providing more activity-oriented programs for hand-and-eye coordination and muscle development. These innovations were neither class biased nor trade oriented, for when many of them were finally adopted in some form after the turn of the century, they were found in every elementary school. In the 189N, however, the Alliance specifically championed the needs of the poorest districts of Milwaukee."

Page 49-50

The Woman's School Alliance was such a creative, constant source of new ideas that the president of the school board labeled them "impetuous" and fellow committee members who responded to their frequent charges called their reports "misleading and incorrect and their suggestions "impracticable." Board members never successfully refuted their ideas, though they often dismissed them, and it would have admittedly been difficult for any school board to implement their ideas rapidly in the hard times of the 1890s. The Alliance demanded the abolishment of corporal punishment, a demand that was refused even though it did not involve money but differences between advocates of stem and "gentle" measures of correction. The Alliance also desired more pay for elementary teachers, adjustable desks for all new schools, playgrounds, sewing classes, manual training, and more kindergartens. It was invited to operate some experimental programs and to hold its meetings in various local schools, which provided an inroad for the wider use of the schools as social centers. However modest its early successes, the Alliance actively championed innovations before a body of men who were hostile to Progressive reform. #58#

Page 52

Like the women in Kansas City, Milwaukee, and Toledo, those in Rochester similarly agitated for numerous reforms ranging from the abandonment of corporal punishment to higher pay for teachers to manual training and sewing; classes. Rochester's women typically ran some new programs at their own expense, received some municipal funding to implement their ideas, and generally labored in a hostile environment. The superintendent and the school board viewed them as troublemakers and Socialists. One ward leader in 1898 said that offering sewing in the schools was as sensible as teaching "blacksmithing" or "potato digging." It would only encourage other cranks to support lunatic ideas such as the construction of swimming pools in the schools for recreational purposes. Dangerous ideas indeed! #65#

Page 53

"Parents have frequently expected our public schools to extend instruction outside their proper limitations," wrote a special school board committee in Rochester in response to advocates of the new education. The committee then proceeded to attack the Women's Union on every pedagogical point. The silly suggestion to treat children "with sugar coated kindness" by ending corporal punishment was a threat to authority and "a great mistake." Little children, even those of "tender years," should not "do as they please." Similarly, manual-training and domestic science instruction belonged in the home, not in the school."

Page 246

Note 46. The best sources for the evolution of Progressive ideas on the local level are the grassroots petitions and original writings of the women and parents themselves. Helen Montgomery, for example, delivered an address in 1896 on the "new education," a term which was later used interchangeably with "progressive education," just as the "new woman" was often referred to as a "progressive woman." See Montgomery's speech in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, 30 January 1896. In Toledo, as in the other cities in this study, clubwomen in the 1890s attacked corporal punishment, cramming, overtesting, and other aspects of what they called the "old system of education." Many were familiar with Froebel's writings, which emphasized motherhood themes, since they were teachers themselves.


Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

October 29 2012, 10:02 PM 

The paddle seems to have been well known as an implement for the punishment of children at home in the USA before it became popular at school. During the Progressive Era, the trend for schools to adopt the paddle was probably motivated by the need to adopt CP practices more acceptable to parents, as indicated by parents own practices.

The following short statement suggests all readers in 1906 were familiar with paddling.


Popular Science Monthly, February 1906. Page 125. The Lapses of Speech, by Professor Joseph Jastrow, University of Wisconsin.

With spank in mind, the threat to paddle the refractory youngster became "Well, I'll spaddle you".

A number of incidents of domestic paddling have been cited in earlier posts to this thread. Did US parents favour the paddle more than parents in other places? If so, why?


Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

October 30 2012, 12:18 AM 

KK asked: Did US parents favour the paddle more than parents in other places? If so, why?

Perhaps their preference came from what was available conveniently around the house?

In my South Korean studies, I was told that traditionally bush clover stems were often used for punishment in the home because they were readily available and, when broken, could be re-cycled as firewood.

By contrast, the best schools used a baton made from ash because it did not break and gave a hard, sharp shock. (There was a chilling quote - "students punished with an ash rod get better examination results!")

One reads stories of kids being paddled "in the woodshed", so could it be that logs were split into paddle-like strips for the stove?

American Way

Early mention of Hazing with Paddle

October 30 2012, 2:09 PM 

In deference to UK readers, kind of guy I am, happy.gif I have copy and pasted the pertinent part for those who cannot access the partial Google Book found online.

The Provincial: Coolidge and His World, 1885-1895 By Hendrik Booraem 1994.



American Way

Just a thought

October 30 2012, 4:38 PM 

KK I am sure these are things you probably have thought of but I remember how helpful I was with the word shingle. So here are some of my conjectures derived from recent rumination after my just prior posting. A custom with hazing was to have an underclassmen "slave" for them. An adult striking and adult involves some degree of consent. Assume the position and say thank you may I have another. There may be a slave connection.

An adult striking a child in a domestic setting involves an intimate connection such as over the knee and direct contact of hand on bottom with younger children.

In a frontier school situation there were always sticks and switches available. Paddles are made from wood of course and that's why they were often referred to as shingles. By history tours and matching the dates of the schools it might illuminate the chronological advent of the paddle in the classroom.


a curiosity

October 30 2012, 10:33 PM 

My Family school history in the USA goes back to two connections - 1876-1895 in Deadwood, south Dakota, and 1910-1940 in Gardiner, Maine. Other family had lived in Utah and Louisiana , but not with children.

The oral history and a few postcards etc preserved, bring me to understand a strap was used in the school in Deadwood , and paddle in the years in Gardiner. The Deadwood school was what in the UK we would call a 'Dame ' school, run entirely by schoolma'ams

It just commentary, proves nothing of course . I'll put soem pictures if they will copy on the TWP thread.


Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

November 7 2012, 8:10 AM 

The difference between USA and UK school practices may be due in part to the great influence of the so-called "public" schools in the UK, and how schoolboys were indoctrinated by penny dreadfuls and stories about school life. They helped establish proper "British" school boy attitudes to CP and other matters.Some of the boys went on to be teachers, school governors and education officials.


HISTORY OF EDUCATION, 1991, VOL. 20, NO. 2, 77-94

"Boys of Bircham School': The penny dreadful origins of the popular English school story, 1867-1900

JOHN SPRINGHALL, History Department, University of Ulster, Northern Ireland

Popular school fiction can be found in the much-despised (by middle-class adults) boys' weekly periodicals or magazines referred to dismissively as 'penny dreadfuls' from about 1867.


Intractable history

November 21 2012, 8:29 AM 

I am not the only one who has had difficulty researching what used to happen in schools. Most of the stuff that has been recorded is the official view. It is likely to be quite biased.


HISTORY OF EDUCATION, 1996, VOL. 25, NO. 2, 141-163

The giant at the front: young teachers and corporal punishment in inter-war elementary schools

P Gardner

The reconstruction of life in the classrooms of the past remains one of the most intractable problems for educational historians. And of all the complex elements making up the pattern of everyday classroom life in the past, the most elusive turn on the nature of the working relationship between teachers and taught. For the historian, denied the comprehensiveness and the immediacy of the data available to the ethnographer, any understanding of teacher-pupil relationships from the past must depend, in part, upon the nature of the sources upon the fragmentary evidence which, for one reason or another, has survived the passage of time.   [. . .]

Oliver Sydney

Re: Intractable history

November 21 2012, 9:58 AM 


Thanks very much for that reference. It pointed to two other relevant papers in the same journal, though it is hard to tell what the second is about.


HISTORY OF EDUCATION, 2008, VOL. 37, NO. 2, pages 253-275
The Experience of Corporal Punishment in Schools, 18901940

Jacob Middleton

Corporal punishment was an important part of the educational experience of many children educated during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It has often been assumed that it was an uncontroversial and widely accepted means of maintaining school discipline. This article questions these assumptions, using autobiographical accounts produced by individuals educated between 1890 and 1940. Working from common themes in these accounts, it presents a reconstruction of how corporal punishment was viewed by the child. Whilst educationists of the period encouraged the sparing and impartial exercise of school discipline, the accounts demonstrate how, in practice, the use of corporal punishment was often seen as arbitrary or unjust. Corporal punishment was, as a result, to become a major source of tension between pupils and teachers within the early twentieth-century school.


HISTORY OF EDUCATION, 2007, VOL. 36, NO. 2, pages 191-211
Caught Napping: Images of Surveillance, Discipline and Punishment on the Body of the Schoolchild

Eric Margolis & Sheila Fram

The authors' research is concerned with the use of visual imagery as data to examine schools and schooling. In attempting to develop knowledge further by incorporating the visual in educational research, they draw on a hybrid mix of disciplines including sociology, ethnography, history and the humanities. Many scholars and historians writing about the history of education emphasize written texts (e.g. formal curricula, school board minutes); photographers and visual artists depict the physical arrangements, postures and facial expressions of bodies within socially constructed spaces. Currently, some historians are attempting to open up new methodologies and theoretical perspectives for the inclusion of images as data, while others remain ambivalent about the legitimacy of visual data of educational history. In this article, the authors discuss images of three lessons that the body is subjected to as essential elements of schooling: surveillance, discipline and punishment. They argue for the usefulness of the visual as data informing historical and sociological imaginations and research.

American Way

Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

November 21 2012, 12:35 PM 

KK When I read the words surveillance, discipline and punish I thought of this structure.



Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

November 21 2012, 12:52 PM 

That's a remarkably true representation of the Benthamite architecture of the Panopticon American way , congratulations. Many of the 'representations ' diverge far more from the diagram , but in this the framing of each prisoner is unique to the guards....the elements of separation and estrangement , representing non corporeal control of the body cf Foucault .


Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

November 21 2012, 6:28 PM 

Middleton, an independent academic based in London, has an interest in school CP in England. He has published or been reported a number of times, including in corpun.com.

http://www.network54.com/Forum/198833/message/1287966211/last-1353502325/ (25 Oct, 2010)



And hot off the press: http://www.historytoday.com/jacob-middleton/spare-rod

Concerning "Images of Surveillance, Discipline and Punishment" the authors seem to be trying to take advantage of "a picture being worth a thousand words". Unfortunately, without much success although it is early days.


Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

November 21 2012, 9:44 PM 

Thanks KK, an interesting selection of articles.

For me, it just demonstrates how calling yourself a historian or academic is intended to give the impression that your writings carry authority. In practice, the authors have as many opinions and prejudices as the rest of us and, although we might take note of their genuine research, their views have no greater value than our own.

Oliver Sydney

Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

November 21 2012, 11:41 PM 

Apologies KK for missing your earlier reference in this thread to the first Middleton paper, "The Experience of Corporal Punishment in Schools, 1890-1940"

No mention of the paddle but in it he gives some quotes, reminiscent of some that I have read here:
'punishment must be severe enough to make the desired impression' and if teachers used the cane they should 'cane hard'
These were quoted from "Boys and their Management in School" by H Bompas Smith M.A. Head Master of Queen Mary's School Walsall (1905). See http://ia700508.us.archive.org/12/items/cu31924031781978/cu31924031781978.pdf

However the "Caught Napping ..." paper does quote "paddled" as a verb. It says:
The first reform school in the United States, the "House of Refuge", was constructed in New York City in 1825 ....
The Refuge's first manager noted the following infractions and punishments in his journal for 1825-1826.
"E.D., paddled, with his feet tied to one side of a barrel, his hands to the other ...
J.M. ... neglects her work for play in the yard, leg iron and confined to House ...
Anne M.: Refractory and does not bend to punishment, put in solitary."

I also found two pictures used in that paper in other places on the web:

Just an aside from todays local "news". The relevant event occurred in Macclesfield, England.
The headline was "Woman guilty of racism for calling Kiwi an Australian" and quoted from:


Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

November 22 2012, 3:55 PM 

Happy Thanksgiving to all American and other readers.

This struck me as quite amusing :



Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

November 24 2012, 3:16 AM 

Oliver Sydney kindly drew attention to:

[linked image]

The notion that drawings, paintings and other artwork can provide a useful commentary on social conditions is not new.

Alexander Burr and his older brother John were well known painters and engravers in Victorian England. They were born and educated in Scotland.

The etching "Caught Napping" was published in both the Illustrated London News and in Harpers Weekly in 1866. It seems that prints were also sold.

The etching shows a tawse so reflects the Scottish rather than English tradition.


Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

November 24 2012, 3:58 AM 

Oliver Sydney reported:

However the "Caught Napping ..." paper does quote "paddled" as a verb. It says:

The first reform school in the United States, the "House of Refuge", was constructed in New York City in 1825 ....

The Refuge's first manager noted the following infractions and punishments in his journal for 1825-1826.

"E.D., paddled, with his feet tied to one side of a barrel, his hands to the other ...

J.M. ... neglects her work for play in the yard, leg iron and confined to House ...

Anne M.: Refractory and does not bend to punishment, put in solitary."

[linked image]

Over a barrel ?

There was a trend from unregulated whipping and paddling of slaves by owners and overseers to court ordered punishments administered at the local prison or lockup in an effort to moderate harsh treatment and condemnation of slavery.

There was also a shift from whips to leather and wooden paddles for offences against prison discipline even when local laws provided no authority for any CP. All this seems to have been well before the paddle became popular in schools.

I think it more likely that the school paddle came from parental rather than slave or prison tradition.

The expression "over a barrel" (= helpless) may relate to a ships gun rather than a water or similar storage barrel.


In the days before the school paddle

November 24 2012, 5:32 AM 

[linked image]


Caught Napping 1866 Sketch

November 24 2012, 2:04 PM 

Thank you KK for adding that image. Although strap use in American schools was unusual, there are some bona-fide accounts of it. I hope inserting this image works, this is a rare example of such an item: a short 8-tailed (2-ply, stitched) leather tawse, eerily similar to that depicted in the Caught Napping scene. This came out of a school in Boston Massachusetts, and dates ca1850 or prior. 



Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

November 25 2012, 12:37 AM 

Interesting photo HH , but as I commented HERE, there is evidence of the strap being used right up to the present day ( for example the public hand strapping of girls at Memphis Academy of health science( a 'Charter' school in a black area of Memphis which is extremely secretive about its disciplinary methods) and was reported in the media in 2008-2010).

I have also come across teachers in the State of Texas who relate its use in both East and West Texas in rural areas. These reports are of a leather strap/paddle used on the hands. At least one well know US 'film star' dominatrix recalls on film having been strapped on the hands at school ( she doesn't say where : but the accent is clear Texan) .

Generally American teachers ( well at least those from the South ) are rather proud to admit to the use of the paddle , but the strap is kept under 'wraps', I can't see why , as it is particularly often identified as the first recourse for parental chastisement. ( though not on the hands). I noticed you didn't come across many examples in your first book, and wondered if you have any idea why this anomaly exists- even on this forum - where on the American threads , although I've raised the issue twice I've never seen a reply ?


Hand strapping in San Francisco

November 25 2012, 2:21 AM 


Daily Alta California, Volume 84, Number 136, 16 May 1891


Proposed Amendment of Board of Education of Rules.

School Director Hartley Desires a Very Radical Chance in the Mode of Inflicting Punishment.

School Director Hartley has introduced the following proposed amendment to the rules of the Board of Education regarding corporal punishment. The matter will probably be discussed at the next meeting of the Board:

Whenever for the maintenance of discipline the corporal punishment of a pupil seems necessary to the teacher, said teacher shall immediately report the fact to the Principal or Vice-Principal of the school, detailing in writing the character and circumstances of the alleged offense.

Within a reasonable time after the receipt of the teacher's complaint the offending pupil shall be summoned into the presence of the Principal or Vice-Principal and interrogated by him or her relative to said complaint. If at the close of the investigation thus commenced the Principal or Vice-Principal is firmly convinced of the culpability of the pupil corporal punishment may be administered, but only in accordance with the following conditions:

The Principal, or in his or her absence the Vice Principal, shall, before inflicting said punishment notify and require the presence as a witness to it of a teacher in the School Department and in no case shall any punishment be administered unless in the presence of a competent witness or witnesses.

Pupils shall be punished only on the palm of the hand or hands, the strokes to be given by Principals or Vice Principals with a leather strap, which shall be made after a model placed in the office of the Board of Education.

Punishment must never be excessive, cruel nor inhuman, but, on the contrary, must always be administered in degree of moderation, regulated by the impartial judgment and wise discretion of Principals and Vice-Principals.

In the event of a refusal to submit to the mode of punishment herein prescribed, pupils in each and every instance will incur the penalty of suspension for a period of at least twenty consecutive school days.

All cases of corporal punishment shall be reported, as soon as practicable after their occurrence, to the Superintendent by Principals or Vice Principals, whose reports must show the names, ages and bodily conditions of all pupils punished, giving also a detailed statement in each case of the cause of the punishment, the time of its infliction, its degree of severity and the name of the witness or witnesses present..
Any Principal or Vice- Principal who administers corporal punishment. to a pupil or pupils i a th» school department in a mode contrary to that herein prescribed, shall be liable to an investigation, and, if tried and proved guilty by the Board of Education, may be expelled.


Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

November 25 2012, 2:24 AM 

Hi prof.n

Yes, you are quite right, the strap did indeed exist in various venues as many posts here will attest, and I did not intend to imply otherwise. But, it's use seemed to be much more the exception than the norm. For example, many esteemed contributors have linked to countless ISD policies that mandated the paddle, but I have yet to see one American public school district or board regulation that specifically mandated strapping (or belting) only. That said, I have over time received several individual recounts of former pupils who were strapped in American elementary schools; from unrelated areas, examples: Chigaco IL, Seattle WA, and Sacramento CA. This may simply mean that perhaps no policy existed as to the precise means of CP delivery and certain educators simply used this by personal preferrence?

Now, I confess I know very little about how, why, and when the paddle emerged as the adopted implement for SCP in the US. Many of the arguments posted here seem quite reasonable to me on that, but I don't know. However, this may have something to do with that fateful event in Boston when the tea had a bitter taste of British taxation happy.gif

This part of Canadian education was highly influenced by customs and tradition in Great Britain. We here can clearly see a trend toward the cane or strap only emerging from ca.1820-1850, all directly influenced by pratices from there. By 1850, the leather strap had already been the preferred method in public schooling systems country-wide, and the cane retained for private/independent schools with strong ties to English tradition. As birching/caning was not deeply entrenched in Canadian custom, the choice of CP implement could perhaps be more objectively made and there were four arguments (or opinions) that seemed to favour the strap in preference of the cane at the time. Whatever was the real process by which Americans adopted the paddle, one can be sure that British custom would not have been given any weight or consideration, and perhaps even a tinge of the opposite? I should note also that many earlier leather straps used in Canadian schooling were actually made in Great Britain and brought over by educators emmigrating to the "new colony".

To find a bonafide strap from an American school is exceedingly rare. Even within those, many were impromptu implements (cuttings of harness leather, cut-down trouser belts, drive belt, etc.) and rarely an item professioanlly fashioned by a leather tradesman (such as shown above) specifically for that purpose. I don't know if this sheds any light but I think the cultural difference between our two great nations in either adopting British heritage or wanting to be completely independent of it appears to have influenced this part of cultural behaviour quite markedly.




Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

November 25 2012, 2:29 AM 

Thank you KK!

No sooner did I say "but I have yet to see one American public school district or board regulation that specifically mandated strapping (or belting) only." than voila! There is is! happy.gif happy.gifhappy.gif  Thanks for sharing that, as it is the first hard evidence I ever saw of US regulation mandating hand strapping only. Well Done!  



Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

November 25 2012, 2:59 AM 




Sec. 82.
Corporal punishment shall not be administered in the High Schools, nor upon girls in any of the schools of the Department, nor upon any children whose parents specifically object to it. Such punishment must be administered only by Principals or Vice-Principals, and shall only be resorted to in extreme cases when other means fail to maintain obedience. No excessive, cruel or unusual punishment shall be allowed. Pupils shall be punished only on the palm of the hand with a leather strap.

Sec. 83. Principals must keep a record of all cases of Corporal punishment, in a book provided for that purpose, which record shall include the name and age of the pupil, the offense committed, and the character of the punishment. At the close of each school month, a transcript of this record shall be sent to the Superintendent on official blanks.


Parents not in favour of hand strapping

November 25 2012, 9:21 PM 


San Francisco Call, Volume 73, Number 113, 23 March 1893


School Punishment Query in Alameda. IT IS NOW LEFT TO PARENTS.

"How Shall We Chastise Your Child?" Deferentially Asks the Board of Education.

How do you want your children whipped - rare, medium or well done?"

That is the question asked by the School Board of Alameda to the parents of the pupils of the public schools of that town.

The educators want the principals to do the punishment, but they leave the nature and extent of it to the parents. This is the new and unique rule adopted by the school board, and the board's members think very highly of the plan.

The board has decided that if parents want their children cowhided, spanked with a slipper or bootjack in the good old-fashioned way, it may be done without extra charge. When Perrie Wilson of 1420 Sherman Street, Alameda, appeared before the board Tuesday afternoon and entered a protest against the method of corporal punishment prescribed by that body as a means if maintaining discipline in the public schools, he voiced the hitherto unexpressed sentiments of a large number of parents whose children attend the different schools of Alameda.

The punishment prescribed by the board is laid down plainly in the book of rules us follows:

Pupils shall be punished only on the palm of the band or hands, the strokes to be given the principal with a leather strap, which shall be made after a model placed in the office of the Board of Education.

Not only this, but every teacher is required to keep a record of each pupil so punished, in which is embodied the reasons for such punishment, together with a description of the pupil minute enough to be a shining example for the description accompanying a Chinese certificate of registration. The rules further state that punishment must be inflicted only in the presence of competent witnesses.

D. J. Sullivan, secretary of the Board of Education and Superintendent of Schools of Alameda, was seen yesterday by a CALL reporter and asked to tell what he knew about the matter.

"Well." said Mr. Sullivan, "there has been considerable complaint about the method of punishment prescribed by the board, but Mr. Wilson is the only one who has thus far appeared before the board to make objections. As reasons for his objections, he said that the hands were made to work with, and therefore should not be subjected to a punishment liable to disable them or in any way tend to injure them. He thought the strap a very dangerous weapon and liable to Inflict permanent injuries.

"The particular cause of his complaint lies in the fact that some lime since his son's teacher complained to the principal, Mr. de Brish, that the boy had been guilty of disfiguring the writing copies and deserved punishment. The principal, knowing the views of Mr. Wilson on the subject, sent for him, and a consultation followed, in which Mr. Wilson succeeded in delaying punishment until such time as he could lay the matter before the board and endeavor to get that body to either change the mode of punishment, or at least make this an exceptional case. There the matter rests, and Edward, the despoiler of copies, is still liable to punishment.

"Did Mr. Wilson suggest any different means of punishment as being better than the one now in use?" was asked.

"Yes, he desires that Edward, at least, shall have punishment administered in the good old-fashioned way. That is that he shall be spanked."

"How about that strap? Is it on exhibition?"

"Yes, here it is," and Mr. Sullivan took from Its place on the wall one of the straps referred to, which very strongly resembled a razor-strop, and which bore same marks very strongly resembling those produced by the back of a razor.

It was the model strap of Alameda. It was exactly 15-3/8 inches in length, 1-1/2 inches wide and each section - there were two - was one-eighth of an inch in thickness. At the butt end, it was nicely rounded so that it would not hurt the tender hands of the principal who was to inflict the punishment on the small boy.

When not in use the weapon is suitable for either a razor-strop or a harness for a goat team. It has a brilliant black polish, which is kept bright by frequent applications of stove blacking. It is kept flexible by constant use.

The method used is this: The culprit is told to stand forward and hold out his hand. The principal then takes his stand exactly 3 feet 1-1/4 inches from the victim, raises the strap over his head like a Chinaman cutting wood, takes a last look at the flogging directions of the laws, brings the strap down heavy and hits - the air. The small boy has withdrawn his hand.

The next stroke is somewhat like the first, except that the principal holds the boy's hand and succeeds in making him think that he has been smitten. The next stroke is a repetition of the second, only on the other hand, and a fourth results in the small boy's collapse and the principal getting a bruised knuckle from the strap.

This ends the punishment, and, amid the applause of the spectators, the boy wipes his eyes on his coat sleeve and leaves the room.

But the strap is to be superseded by other implements of castigation under the workings of the board's new rule. The parents are to decide how the punishment is to be inflicted.

And so this is the question of the board for the parents to decide, "How shall we punish your child?"

They ask the question with some show of feeling and sentiment, though, as a matter of fact, it is not likely that they are more deeply concerned than a waiter is in asking a similar question regarding an eater's plans and specifications for his tenderloin steak.

And the answers, as given to Call men Wednesday, are various and diverse.

"Oh, touch 'em up lightly," said one parent. "Just give 'em a strap once in awhile across the back. But do it gently."

"Take a switch to them." said another parent, "but don't hit their faces. Just tap them lightly across the shoulders."

"Dress 'em down with a ruler," said a Park-street man. "and don't be gentle about it at all. If my children do anything wrong show 'em that they've got to behave."

"I am in favor of the switch judiciously applied to the broadest part of the anatomy," said a lawyer. "Take a club to 'em," declared a Park street butcher. "Make 'em act decent or kill 'em."

Mrs. Duncan of 1719 Sherman Street said: "I've got a boy attending the same school as the Wilson boy, and I know there are times when he needs a good thrashing, and Mr. de Brish has our authority to give it to him."

"What do you think of the strap system of punishment?" she was next asked.

"To tell you the truth, I think it would be much better if the teachers would just take a child across their knees and give it a good old-fashioned spanking. That would surely do no injury, and if properly done the child would not forget it in a hurry, either."

The next person seen was Mrs. Mockel, who is the mother of a numerous family, and therefore should be a competent judge of the merits of the style of corporeal punishment she advocates.

When asked whether she preferred to have her children strapped on the "hand or hands" Mrs. Mockel promptly replied:

"Taken across the knee and spanked, by all means. That's the old way, and I have found it very efficient." And the obedience of the little ones clustered about her was good evidence of the truth of the statement.

"I don't want my children whipped at all," said one Alameda father to The CALL man, who asked him how he wanted them whipped.

"And I won't have them whipped, either, if I can help it, and I think I can, the bombastic wisdom of the local school board and trustees to the contrary notwithstanding.

"Education in the Eastern States has gone beyond the period of whipping several years since; it is high time that the rod should be banished from the California curriculum by State law.

"When they burned witches in Massachusetts they flogged children in school. The enlightened New Englander has passed that period in his moral evolution, it is time Californians forget the vigilance-committee days and broke its school rods.

"My children are not brought up by the rod at home, and I will not have them whipped by other people. They're neither dogs nor cattle. We treat them as humans at home, and I mean that they .hull not be treated otherwise at school."

Quoth another parent, a mercantile man: "In the first place I don't want my children whipped at all, except by their parents. Secondly, I don't want them struck on the palms, for the breaking of bones is thereby engendered. Nor do I want their ears boxed, for it is a dangerous practice, sometimes resulting in abscesses and deafness. Neither should the head be struck. There is, however, a portion of the anatomy which nature has prepared to resist chastisement, and here let the lash be applied, if it must be. No harm is done, the blood is quickened, the reversed position of the culprit is in itself sufficient humiliation, and all necessary results are thus attained."

Mrs H. R. Harris was interviewed in her home, 1614 Sherman Street and she was very willing to talk on the punishment question.

"I don't exactly like to have anybody, whether teacher or anybody else, punish my boy on the hands," she said, "because the hand is a very tender portion of the body and should not be injured.It takes but a slight blow to cripple one of the fingers for life, and the slight blow does not hurt the boy enough unless he does get crippled.

"Take it all in all, I prefer to have him taken across the knee and an application of elbow grease administered that he will remember for at least a week, but which will not bodily harm him."

The general verdict of all those seen is to the effect that the spanking process is far superior to the regulation strap method, but all concurred in saying that the best way of all in such matters was to leave it entirely with the teachers, who should be kept within bounds regarding the severity of the punishment inflicted by rules laid down by the Board of Education.


Parents v's the teaching profession?

November 25 2012, 10:10 PM 

The introduction of compulsory education (1874 in California) lead to more parental involvement and more regulation of schools, both by law and by natural inclination. In some places, especially the USA, the parents got the upper hand. In other places, especially the UK, the teaching profession and traditional "public" and grammar school traditions held sway.

Newspaper reports from the time when school were becoming more regulated, such as those above, show how parents might have influenced US schools to use forms of CP similar to those used at home rather than those used in traditional schools and institutions.

The paddle does not seem to have been especially popular in California but it is likely the same kind of parental influence occurred in the paddling states.


The following articles deal with a severe strapping, not on the hands, of a 14 y.o. boy by two female teachers. They were found not guilty of assault.

Los Angeles Herald, 9 January 1898

Sentous Street School Punishment
Los Angeles Herald 10 January 1898

Los Angeles Herald 14 January 1898

THE THEORY AND PRACTICE OF CORPORAL PUNISHMENT [Not directly related to the strapping]
Los Angeles Herald 16 January 1898

Los Angeles Herald, 30 January 1898

Los Angeles Herald, 6 February 1898

AVERILL IS SECRETARY (of Board of Education. Includes a report to board on the strapping)
Los Angeles Herald 22 February 1898

American Way

Making Paddling Fun!!!

November 26 2012, 10:45 PM 

The practical teacher; a handbook of teaching devices, by Charles Elmer Holley 1927.

A unique way of paddling junior high boys. Making it fun for everyone except the victim.

page 260


page 261


page 262


Snippets taken from. CLICK

Teacher's Technique 1922

Delay the punishment to let him "stew in the uncertainty". prof n nightmare.

Bad timing A_L. Don't make your punishment worse and pull the tail of the tigers (Jenny and Wendy).

page 30


Snippet taken from CLICK


Rattan was well known in the USA

November 27 2012, 11:42 PM 

It seems, going by the following article in the New York Times (regurgitated in other newspapers), that rattan was well known in the USA in 1874, a least in parts of the USA with ready access to foreign goods.




Three smart little fellows, evidently in the full enjoyment of their holidays, are gazing wistfully at a dray loaded down with supple rattans. It is questionable in our minds whether the boys really wanted them, (not in the possessive case of course,) although we are decided advocates of that stinging Biblical maxim, "Spare the rod and spoil the child."

"Lots of them, boys!" we said; and we waited for a response. Presently it came as follows from the youngest of the party. The pretty lisp of babyhood was hardly off his lips: They can't be," he remarked, "for licking fellows with you know, for you couldn't wear out that pile of rattans on all the bad boys in the country." and then he added reflectively, "Besides, corporal punishment is played out in the public schools. Ma told me so."

"Are you aware, my little friends," we said, "that there is a trick worth knowing? If some cross old schoolmaster should ever want to let you have his rattan over your fingers, all would have to do would be to -"

"You are going to tell us," interrupted our little friend, "something about pulling a hair out of your eyebrow, and putting it in your hand, and that that will splinter the rattan. There isn't a word of truth in it. It's a yarn," and the young gentleman we think rather gazed at us for a moment with an expression of scorn.

"So," we thought, "has the American youth, or at least the New York boy, thrown off superstition?" But we declare we would have liked the stripling better if he had believed it. We know that at his age, being more ingenious and trusting, we put the utmost faith in this charm.

The driver of the dray, listening to our conversation, remarked, When I was a boy the master didn't thrash with them things. Three or pair birch twigs did our business. It was a country school, and what was hard about it was that we boys had to cut the twigs for the master. If one broke there was always a lot a-seasoning; but, you see, even whaling boys goes now by fashion."

From the driver we learned the destination of his load, and from the largest receivers and manufacturers of rattan in the country we acquired the following facts in regard to the rattan business:

Rattan comes from the Moluccas - principally from Singapore, Pedang [= Padang, Sumatra], Penang [Malaysia], Semarang [Java], and St. Simon's Bay [?]. Of all the rattan collected in the East, the United States consumes three-quarters of the total product, the imports amounting now to something more than 6,000,000 pounds.

There are rattans and rattans, and no less than ten different grades can be found, which vary in price from two cents up to ten cents a pound. [Approx 8 canes per pound.]

The first quality should be of a bright color, of a straw yellow, but, in addition, must be supple, and not "sticky", a trade word meaning dull and wanting in elasticity. It requires a great deal of experience to decide what is good rattan or the kinds which will work up best for particular sorts of goods. The very choicest rattan comes from Besjamassing [= Banjarmasin, Borneo].

Both outside and inside have their special uses. The Calamus Rotang belongs to that peculiar species of palm which secretes in its cuticle a very considerable amount of silica, while its inside is made up of tough and fibrous filaments. The outside, with the smooth natural varnish, when stripped off by particular machinery, is used for seating chairs. There is a single factory in the United States which turns out daily enough chair cane to cover 20,000 chairs.

The inside of the rattan is employed in a variety of ways. It is shaped by machinery either round or flat, and so worked up into innumerable articles. Baskets, brooms, mats, matting, are all made from the inside of the rattan, and an immense quantity of it is worked around demijohns.

Both the inside and outside of the rattan are employed in the manufacture of furniture. This branch of industry we have undoubtedly copied with Chinese accuracy from India. Perhaps even with the addition of our numerous mechanical helps we have but very little improved on the models as to appearance or solidity. There is an exquisite comfort, a luxurious ease, about a real rattan chaise longe such as is made at Singapore, that we can handy equal.

Split rattan is made up into some half dozen different sizes, and is then sold by the 1,000 feet. The finest qualities of rattan are also used by whip-makers. This large and constantly increasing business may be estimated by the fact that one factory in New England alone employs 1,000 operators, and that the total number of people working in rattan (the schoolmasters excluded) is fully 1,800. The capital used in the manufacture of rattan, we are informed, is about $2,000,000.

The New York Times
Published: August 9, 1874
Copyright @ The New York Times


Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

November 28 2012, 12:19 AM 

In the "Caught Napping" paper I referred to earlier there was a picture from "The History of the Hornbook" by Andrew White Tuer. I could not find this but his
"Stories from Old-Fashioned Children's Books" (published in 1899-1900) is available as a 20MB PDF from http://www.ebooksread.com/authors-eng/andrew-white-tuer.shtml

It contains morality tales and illustrations, apparently from the early 1800s. Some are school related. Two examples. I have tried to imbed the images but not sure if it has worked.

The Truant Boy

[linked image]


There was a little girl so proud,
She talked so fast and laughed so loud,
That those who came with her to play
Were always glad to go away,
In bracelets, necklace did she shine;
Her clothes were always very fine.
Her frocks through carelessness were soiled;
In truth she was already spoiled.
Her mother died; she went to school,
And there obliged to live by rule.
Though oft before the time for bed,
A cap with bells disgraced her head.
Tickets - for idleness she had,
And these sometimes would make her sad.
So when she had been to school a year,
And Christmas holidays were drawing near,
Her greatest faults were all amended
And to her learning she attended.
When false indulgence warps the mind,
The discipline of school we find
Most efficacious to correct
The ills arising from neglect.

[linked image]

Oliver Sydney

Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

November 28 2012, 12:44 AM 

The imbeds didn't work. Advice or correction welcome. These are the links.

The Truant Boy (poem and picture)

The Truant Boy

The School (picture)

The School (picture)



Those PhotoBucket Image Links

November 28 2012, 4:17 AM 

Hi Oliver Sydney,

PhotoBucket are falling into the same ludicrous trap that has ensnared so many once excellent Web services, eBay, Google, Network54 to name but a few. Take an interface which works well and that everybody understands and tinker about with it until it doesn't work at all and nobody understands it. The sound engineering principle of "if it isn't broken, don't fix it" appears to be totally unknown on the WWW.

As a consequence although nothing on PhotoBucket has actually changed in the rewrite (at least, not for the better) it all looks different. You need to do the following to get the URL of your PhotoBucket images:
  • Log in to your PhotoBucket account.

  • Go to the album that contains the image you want to display elsewhere.

  • Hover your mouse pointer over the image whose URL you want.

  • A pop-up window will appear containing a small copy of the image and various housekeeping links.

  • In the bottom half of this window you will see 'Direct link'. Click on this.

  • The URL of the image is now in your Windows Clipboard. (Assuming you are running Windows. I'm guessing that it is pretty much the same for Linux and MAC.)

  • What you do with the URL depends on where you want to display the image. For Network54 simply paste it (Ctrl v) into the Message Text box on a line by itself.
The links you have provided above are actually links to the image pages on PhotoBucket, rather than direct to the images themselves. Although these appear to have failed (because you can't display an HTML page in-line in Network54, or at least not by that method) right-clicking on the 'missing image' icon and 'Open in new tab' will take viewers to the image page. This is the page that as the account holder you get to if you click on one of your images when viewing an album.

On this page, on the right, you will see a bar entitled 'Image Links'. Click on this and a drop-down menu will appear. This contains the 'Direct link' item referred to above, and as above, clicking on this will also put the image URL into your Clipboard. As I don't wish to hack your PhotoBucket account this is my route to the URLs of the two images you tried to display above, and here they are:

The Truant Boy

The School

I note that the young lady in the 'The School' picture is clutching a birch. I wonder if in addition to her other travails set out in the accompanying verse (your November 28 2012, 12:19 AM contribution above) she has also been subjected to chastisement with that implement? sad.gif



Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

November 28 2012, 4:32 AM 

Hi KK,

What an excellent thread this has proved to be! Thank you! Your November 27 2012, 11:42 PM post above 'Rattan was well known in the USA' was most interesting. It is good to know that the American Colonies at least started down the one true path of using the cane for chastisement in schools before they totally committed themselves to the retrograde step of using the paddle! happy.gifwink.gifhappy.gif


Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

November 28 2012, 4:35 AM 

Thank you my dear EAL.

[linked image]

Oliver Sydney

Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

November 29 2012, 12:02 PM 

Hi A-L

Thank you very much for your comprehensive explanation and your post.

The Riddle (also from "Stories from Old-Fashioned Children's Books")

[linked image]

These two pictures are from 'History of the Horn Book' by Andrew W. Tuer, London, 1895

In School

[linked image]

A child is taught to read with a Horn Book

[linked image]

from http://www.magnoliabox.com/art/216529/A_child_is_taught_to_read_with_a_Horn_Book_published_in_History


Domestic paddling the precursor

November 30 2012, 6:00 AM 

It seems likely that the US school paddle derived from common parental practice, and that it was adopted by schools after education became compulsory. If so, we should be able to find mentions of parental paddling in the literature.

Those Brewster children

By Florence Morse Kingsley. Published 1910



pages 16-17

[. . .]

The man pursed up his lips in an inaudible whistle. "Upon my word, Betty," he broke out at length, "I don't know as I can tell you. We don't stand for whipping, you know. Beating small children always struck me as being a relic of the dark ages; and I know I could never stand it to see a child of mine cower before me out of physical fear. But we mustn't spoil 'em !"

"Marian Stanford whips Robbie every time he disobeys," Elizabeth said after a lengthening pause. "She uses a butter-paddle, the kind I make those little round balls with; you know it has a corrugated surface. She says it is just the thing; it hurts so nicely. But I'm sure Robbie Stanford is far naughtier than Carroll ever thinks of being."

Her husband broke into a helpless laugh which he promptly repressed at sight of her indignant face.

[. . .]

And several other mentions.

American Way

Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

November 30 2012, 5:58 PM 

Some children didn't tell their parents they were paddled while others did. Paddles are different when they come home and face the music. Even in 1959 there were parents who thought their child could do no wrong and their teachers can do no right. It reminds you of those pathetic mothers that are too often exaggerating IMHO the paddling their "poor little children" are getting on television. They don't seem to be convincing. The commonality is the children all look spoiled,



Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

November 30 2012, 8:34 PM 

American Way kindly drew attention to:


Hopkinsville Kentucky New Era. Page 4, 13 Apr. 1959.

When One Meant Two

J. E. Stanford In The Kentucky Farmer

I remember when I was a kid and got a licking in school, I got an extra one when I got home. My dad gave me a thrashing at home for each one I got at school, and they were not "love licks" either.

Now, it's a common occurrence for one or both parents to want to whip the teacher when one of their over-petted and badly spoiled offspring gets a very mild paddling in school. From the way some of these parents carry on about their misbehaving youngsters getting spanked with a paddle - not as large as an old-fashioned butter paddle - you'd think the teacher had tried to commit murder with a baseball bat. Sometimes, the parents behave worse than their children. In many cases the child is following the bad behavior pattern set day by day by the parents.

In these cases, you can put your finger on one of the main reasons for disrespect for law and order and the rights of others. This ever-increasing thing we call juvenile delinquency has a lot of adult delinquency mixed with it. These parents who throw a fit every time one of their kids gets his "sitter" paddled, don't seem to realize that discipline is an important part of an education.

When we see so much of this attitude on the part of parents, it is no wonder such an amazing per cent of freshmen in college can't make a go of it and fall by the wayside. A head start toward bad citizenship and failure in life has been made when there is not proper discipline in both the home and the school.

Far too many parents take the attitude toward their children as the woman did who told her neighbor that she had never hit one of her children a lick except in self-defense.

A lot of people seem to be like the lady who gave the teacher a long list of instructions when she entered her little son in school. My Charles is so sensitive she explained, "Don't ever punish him. Just slap the boy next to him. That will frighten Charles and make him behave."

It is tremendously important that parent, realize good citizenship has its root implanted in the home. school and church, and that child delinquency is going to grow by leaps and bounds so long as we fail to make proper use of those childhood training centers.

The notion that children / things were better in earlier times has been a common one at least since the times of ancient Greece and probably much longer.


Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

December 2 2012, 7:06 PM 

The use of butter paddles and other domestic impliments were mentioned 18 - 22 July, 2011, above.

A further mention of utility paddle appears in the humorous US civil war satire:

Smoked glass

By Orpheus C. Kerr. [pseud.] New York, G. W. Carleton, 1868.

Source: http://hdl.handle.net/2027/uc2.ark:/13960/t3tt4gv8q?urlappend=%3Bseq=220

page 204 (A cornered cat under a house is mistaken for a fox during the "Munchausen Hunt")

In the moment, and while yet he was unguardedly stooping almost double, a window right at my nose flew open like magic, an aged unmarried sister-in-law of the late Southern Confederacy appeared thereat, armed with a huge butter-paddle, and passionately used the latter to inflict an ear-splitting spank upon the absorbed fox-hunter.

Overcome by feelings too intense to be expressed in print, the nearly murdered Federal officer leaped high into the atmosphere, and came down upon a dog that was making his toilet.

Author's details: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Henry_Newell

[linked image]

Alan Turing

Hazy memories

December 2 2012, 9:58 PM 

KK, you've woken up an old memory from back in the mid-fifties, when I was quite small and used to go shopping sometimes with my mother in school holidays. There was a small Sainsbury's shop in Willesden Green near the tube station (way before they had supermarkets) and I remember that, unlike many of the other shops, the customers had to queue parallel to the counter.

A common purchase was half a pound of butter. This didn't come pre-wrapped; instead there was a great block of butter. The shop assistant would cut off a portion with a wire and then, for some reason, paddle it into shape. I really don't know why this was necessary. Also, there was no connection in my young mind between this activity and possible other uses of a small wooden bat.

They would also sell you a single "standard egg" for twopence three-farthing! happy.gif


J. Sainsbury

December 2 2012, 10:45 PM 

As the Forum is very quiet, please excuse a drift off-topic.

Alan Turing commented: ...there was a great block of butter. The shop assistant would cut off a portion with a wire and then, for some reason, paddle it into shape. I really don't know why this was necessary.

I don't think I ever went to Sainsbury's in Willesden Green, but my recollection from the Golders Green branch and also the grocery shop owned by my grandfather, the butter was not cut with a wire, but with the edge of the paddles themselves, resulting in a slightly mis-shapen lump that would be difficult to wrap. The paddles were then used to mould it to a regular shape so it could be neatly packaged in grease-proof paper. Wires were certainly used for cutting the cheese.

Other memories of Sainsbury's include the single cashier in a booth at the far end of the store and a few chairs strategically placed for those unable to stand in the queue for long. There was no question of prams or pushchairs being taken into the store; babies were left outside unattended. On one occasion (it would be in 1945), my mother forgot I was there and returned home, leaving me in my pram outside Sainsbury's! There was no panic, the shop staff just kept a watchful eye on me until my mother returned. How times and attitudes change!



Re: Hazy memories & J. Sainsbury

December 3 2012, 12:36 AM 

Hmm, unlike my greatly esteemed fellow contributors Alan Turing and hcj, who were London based, we didn't aspire to posh shops like J Sainsbury in the Midlands mining town I lived in in the mid 1950s. It were t'Co-op or t'corner shop or that there beer-off and grocery in t'igh street. happy.gif

I can't recall how butter was cut from bulk in the various establishments, but they certainly used to bash it into some semblance of symmetry with paddles to wrap it, just as my fellow contributors recollect.

And Mr Turing's 2¾d single standard egg? Well the Bank of England Inflation calculator tells us that £1 in 1955 was the equivalent of £21.52 in 2011. So in round figures 2¾d in 1955 money would be the equivalent of about 25p in today's cash.

I don't know if Sainsbury's will actually sell you a single egg, but this price comparison page, which gives single egg prices for the various egg sizes, qualities and packs, seems to indicate that 25p for a single 'standard' egg probably isn't too far off the mark today.

American Way

Flapping Paddle School Theater

December 6 2012, 10:47 PM 

The old district school: a farce in two acts with music. New version. Music ... 1906. By William E. Danforth, George F. Rosche.


Flapping Paddle.


Two Hours of Roaring Fun Come and See the Spanking Machine. 1906.


Scroll Down to 1940 performance.



American Way's broken hyperlinks - 2

December 9 2012, 5:23 AM 

The old district school; a farce in two acts with music.

William E. Danforth, (1906)

Source: http://hdl.handle.net/2027/nyp.33433081860268?urlappend=%3Bseq=9


Dinner pails for all scholars, also hats; slates, pencils and books for all scholars; ruler; school-bell; alarm clock; blackboard; chalk; apple; lead pencil; dunce-block; dunce-cap; 2 soap boxes of same size; fish pole with line and small paper ball on end of line; Brigham Young's excuse from his mother; large paper ball to throw at teacher; toy bug that can be wound up so that it will run around on the floor; cabbage; arm-full of wood; placard with string and "Teacher's a Donkey" on placard in large letters; flapping shingle for spanking; 3 diplomas for graduates; 3 chairs; seats and desks for pupils; desk or table for teacher ; hand-made hat-rack with nails or pegs.

Note.- The flapping shingle for spanking is made by whittling a handle to two shingles, tying them firmly together at handle, inserting a thick piece of paste-board between shingles near handle, so that when they strike they clap together with loud whack. The diplomas, when rolled up and tied with gay ribbons with long streamers, should be four or five feet long. (It brings a laugh.) [. . .]


Hyperlink 3, excerpt

December 9 2012, 5:33 AM 

[linked image]

American Way

Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

December 22 2012, 3:34 AM 

Early paddle in Utah pioneer school shown.


Splintered Kansas paddle with initials of names from the turn of the century in Kansas. Alas, only described.



Paddle not shown in 1887 cartoon

December 22 2012, 4:47 AM 

Baltimore American, Jun 14, 1887

Source: http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=0aFCAAAAIBAJ&pg=4938,2754764

[linked image]

About School-Marms
Comparing the old with the new

Wherein the modern school mistress differs from her predecessors of the past generation - some of her characteristics - an army in Chicago. (From the Chicago Herald)

[Item found by American Way]

American Way

Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

January 1 2013, 6:03 PM 

Paddle. Hardin-Simmons Student Pranks. Who do you think would be Dougharty especially by judging from the penultimate link in the student prank picture?



Wilmot Dougharty



October 25, 1948. Bare bottom fraternity paddling.

Freshman Mistake.



High school paddle initiation 1938

January 1 2013, 10:48 PM 

Borger Daily Herald (Texas) Tuesday 3 May 1938, page 4, col. 6.


Crack! Goes the paddle

Around the main entrance of the High School was a large crowd, appearing at first, highly amused, and second, very interested.

I looked into the ring. Inside were several boys, some of them dressed very queerly. Faces were smeared and daubed liberally with lipstick. Some of them wore trousers cut off above the knee and all of them sucked baby's teething rings, most industriously.

The secret? I'll he right mean and tell you. It was (and is) the initiation to the "B" club. The initiation in order last week and this week for the lettermen of '36 and '37, respectively.

Oh! The woeful looks of the suffering boys as they bend to the approved position for a paddling. And the mournful glances they cast at the maiden of their aspirations as she passes silent, but extremely interested, for they cannot speak to each other for the full term of initiation!

I cannot put on paper how side-splittingly funny it is to gaze upon Sherman Sullivan's mild, cherubic face as he straightens from a resounding blow and contentedly sucks the rubber ring in his mouth he says he expects to cut his "toofies" sometime next week.

Roswell Raber was very happy when Mr. McIntosh banished his dress and ladies' hat. (A certain lady here stated her opinion that if the boys had to wear frocks they must wear petticoats too, and please, please, hide their none-too beautiful lower limbs in hose).

More I have no space to relate, but I assure you the present candidates have "blood in their eyes" for the 1938 squad, I suggest that the to-bes start taking a daily-dozen licks, to toughen up, or "train" in preparation for next year.

American Way

Standard College Paddles

January 2 2013, 12:45 AM 

Professionally Made Paddles. 22" x 3.5"

Old Hickory Paddle Co of Danville Indiana.


Court Case challenge. King of Swing of Bunker Hill, Indiana.


When Warren Davis bought the Old Hickory Paddle Co. in 1988, he just thought it would be fun to make fraternity memorabilia.



Amateur Sociology

January 8 2013, 4:39 AM 

If we can understand why the school paddle was and is more prevalent in the southern states of the USA we may better understand why the school paddle is favoured the USA. The southern preference and prevalence is likely to have something to do with the people who settled in the South, and their way of life.

The Southern United States was initially mainly settled by herders from sparsely populated Scotland, Northern Ireland, Northern England and the West Country.

New England was mainly settled by cropping farmers and workers from densely populated South East of England and East Anglia.

Mobile animals are easier to steal than immobile crops. Asserting ownership of land by occupation is also more difficult for herders. In the absence of strong government and its associated law enforcement the southern settlers felt insecure. They had to be ready use of force to defend their property and way of life. Later, the need to control slaves compounded the southern reliance on force.

The desire to protect their threatened way of life lead in part to the civil war. The aftermath of the defeat compounded pre-existing concerns and reinforced the belief in use of force to control others, and those who broke the rules. It also compounded a suspicion of outsiders and outside beliefs.


Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

January 8 2013, 5:35 PM 

Some interesting points KK. There are other non structural reasons too. The South was late in extending the orderly rule of law , in some cases well into the 1890's, and where there was no law but the peripatetic 'Marshall' communities needed to be tightly structured to survive.

Life was hard, and dangerous. Yes these were in some cases frontier states, but also they were quite dangerous places, not only because of gun law, but even going into the back yard and you could meet a snake or scorpion, and down by the river an alligator. . This also intended to make religion stronger and more assertive, and it is no co incidence that pro paddling states are also often pro death penalty.

Modern social democracy hasn't found the south an easy bedfellow, what with Jim crow laws, and the history of d segregation.

No the sociological factors are extremely important , and explain why Paula and her crew can't get a real foothold.

Also teachers in the South have a less flexible style. True of parents as well. Issues are right or wrong - no middle ground. And you can soon as a child slip over the border from curiosity to sass. Also, especially in Texas, a substantial German influence hardened social attitudes, as these were strong protestants.


When and why did fraternities adopt the paddle?

January 11 2013, 11:17 PM 

I believe the use of the paddle in US schools was largely due to the influence of parents.

There is no evidence that school paddling was derived from fraternity practice although it is possible graduate teachers who had been fraternity members had some influence.

Hazing and initiations in USA colleges occured from the earliest times. The paddle seems to have been a late arrival. If we could understand when and why this happened it might help understand school use better.


Harmless Pranks or Brutal Practices?
Hazing at the University of Illinois, 1868-1913

Winton U. Solberg


Rites of passage mark important transitions in life, and soon
after the first universities arose in Europe it became customary to
subject new students to some form of initiation. In German universities
in the seventeenth century, for example, pennalism was the
name given to an oppressive system of bullying neophytes (pennal
was a slang term for freshmen, who carried with them a pennal or
pen-case for use at lectures). In England the system under which a
senior boy could compel a junior boy to perform vexatious tasks was
called fagging, a word that came into use in the mid-1820s. Hazing is
the term employed to describe the familiar collegiate ritual in
America. The Oxford English Dictionary defines hazing as "a sound
beating, a thrashing," and as "a species of brutal horseplay practiced
on freshmen at some American Colleges," and it records the Harvard
Magazine in 1860 as the first to use the word to describe "the absurd
and barbarous custom of hazing which has long prevailed in the college."

Early American colleges imported the custom of fagging, and
in the early nineteenth century hazing replaced it as a method of initiating
and disciplining freshmen. Hazing was a product of the class
system, whereby all students who entered at the same time were considered
members of a single class throughout their college course.
The conditions of college lifea fixed curriculum, the recitation system,
the college dormitory, and antagonism between faculty and students
strengthened class ties, and class rivalry opened the way for
what Henry D. Sheldon called "numerous perversions." Describing
the hazing of freshmen by sophomores in the nineteenth century,
Sheldon noted various degrees of the custom that ran the gamut from
practical jokes and tricks to serious and cold-blooded offenses.
During the first month at college the freshman was the likely victim
of annoying pastimeshe was jeered at, his room was liable to be
invaded at all hours, and his person and belongings formed the
means of amusing his tormentors. More elaborate vexations followed.
One of the most common was "smoking out," a practice in
which a group of sophomores seized and closed up a newcomer in
room, filled it with smoke, and attempted to sicken their victim.
Meanwhile, the freshman might be compelled to perform such nonsensical
acts as making speeches, singing songs, dancing, or reciting
the alphabet backwards. "Salting the freshman," enjoyed at one college,
consisted in placing salt and water on the chairs of freshmen in
chapel; at another college molasses replaced the salt and water. More
serious, a group of sophomores might single out an individual freshman
whom they considered odious, gag and blindfold him, and
hurry him away to some desolate locality, where they practiced various
indignities upon him, such as cutting off his hair and branding
his body with indelible ink or smearing it with paint, tossing him in
a river or putting him under a pump for a considerable period, and
leaving him in a remote place or a cemetery with a gag in his mouth
and his hands bound behind him.

On an average, Sheldon believes, not more than two or three
such affairs occurred each year in a typical college, and probably not
more than about 15 percent of any sophomore class engaged in hazing
of the type described. The majority, however, exhibited only a
passive opposition to the practice, and the governing boards of the
colleges tried without success to extirpate this initiation rite. One
reason was that students refused to inform on their classmates, but
the real reason for the persistence of hazing lay in the conservatism
and reverence for tradition that marks youth. "That freshmen had
always been hazed seemed sufficient cause why hazing should be
continued."2 Hazing was a form of aggressive behavior that spread
across the land. When James Burrill Angell became president of the
University of Michigan in 1871, hazing and other disorders were
accepted conduct of students. The practice was difficult to control
because it took place outside class hours and frequently at night.
When Thomas C. Chamberlin became president of the University of
Wisconsin in 1887, hazing was a serious problem, although, as the
university's historians write, "perhaps no worse ... than elsewhere at
the time." At the University of Missouri in the 1890s the hazing of
unpopular or obstreperous individuals occurred, but it never struck
any deep roots. At Indiana University hazing was one manifestation
of interclass rowdiness, and the practice of "scalping" (hair cutting)
freshmen had its day. One beleaguered sophomore held fifty freshmen
at bay with a shotgun when they tried to enter his room to give
him a second scalping. At the University of Iowa President George
MacLean, who took office in 1899, was less offended by such adult
offenses as entering saloons or drunkenness than by the adolescent
practice of hazing. In 1901 authorities suspended ten sophomores for
the remainder of the year for abducting the president of the freshman
class and holding him captive for two days. Hazing was well
entrenched at both military service academies. At West Point it was
practiced with methods that were "violent and uncontrolled," and
Douglas MacArthur's refusal to be a tattletale nearly ended his career
as a cadet.3

How to deal with hazing was part of the larger problem of
discipline that troubled colleges throughout the nineteenth century.
Officials tried various approaches in an attempt to maintain order
and create an environment conducive to learning. Neither harsh
paternalism nor an appeal to the honor of students proved successful.
Hazing was difficult to manage because it shaded off by slight
degrees from the practical joke to the serious crime. It was not merely
a colorful aspect of college life but a stage in the evolution of higher
education that helps us understand the conditions under which
American students were educated.4



Henry D. Sheldon,

Student Life and Student Customs

(New York: D. Appleton and Co., 1901),



An explosion of paddling ??

January 12 2013, 12:47 AM 

I have just noticed that judicial, prison, military, fraternity and school paddling (or reports thereof) all seem to have started at roughly the same time in the USA - towards the end of the nineteeth century and in the early years of the twentieth. Slave paddling was much earlier. Was there a common cause? Possibly, improved communications and literacy allowed the more rapid spread of new ideas and practices at this time.


Manufacturers and Farmers Journal - Jul 15, 1895

Camp of Rhode Island Militia

Quonset Point, R. I., July 11, 1895.

Sleep last night was out of the question for the full moon made the camp so beautiful that only a craven with no music or poetry in his soul would retire to his tent and deliberately shut out the fresh air and the moonlight. The boys made up for their quietness on the previous nights, and altogether there was considerable excitement of one kind and another.

[. . .]

The new company in the 1st Regiment, F of Wakefield, has 46 men, all taking their first year in camp. The other companies have been seriously debating the question of subjecting them to the process known as paddling. A small dose of this is always administered to every new recruit, but as the members of the company are all rugged looking men, there was hesitation about starting the operation. They have been hazed more or less by the other companies, and last night started out to get even. Over by the big flagstaff, at the lower end of the parade ground, was a sentry. Quite early in the evening he received an order from "headquarters", said headquarters being in one of the company tents, to hoist the flag at moonrise and lower it at moon-set. When the moon rose, all red from the horizon, and gradually turned to silver, the sentry was in a stew over the flag, which, it is needless to say, was not hoisted.

[. . .]



January 12 2013, 6:26 AM 

The following item relates to the discussion of "sociology" above. The paddle in this case is likely to be that used on slaves by judicial order.


The New Orleans True Delta, of September 10 contains the following account of some proceedings in the interior of Louisiana.

A friend who has just arrived from Lafayette parish, informs us that on Saturday morning last the Vigilance Committee of that parish were summoned to assemble and proceed to a place called Bayou Tortue, about fifteen miles west of Vermilionville, where an encampment of outlaws had been formed, the ringleaders of which had challenged them to battle. Accordingly, the law and order men of the parish, who had long suffered from these depredators, who had robbed, plundered, passed counterfeit money and murdered with impunity, quickly gathered, and, taking a piece of artillery with them from the village of Vermilionville, started for the rendezvous of the outlaws.

At 9, a.m., on Saturday, about 500 well equipped mounted men suddenly appeared before the entrenched camp of the boastful defiers of the laws, where they found them in full force, with the Bayou well guarded, and a house in the centre of their position loop-holed, and otherwise thoroughly prepared for enduring a siege or resisting a storming party. The flag of their fraternity also floated defiantly in the breeze, and until the Vigilants had formed their order of battle, and unmasked their cannon, all looked as if the defence would be obstinate and sanguinary. The sight of the big gun, however, struck terror into the hardened hearts of these outlaws, and sauve gui peut
[a stampede] suddenly appeared to animate the warriors. Their number was about 150, many of whom having horses, managed to make their escape, but seventy of their force fell into the hands of the Vigilants.

Immediately a court-martial was formed, consisting of two Vigilants from each company, to whom the question was submitted whether the prisoners, notorious evildoers, should suffer death or be paddled. By a majority of two, it was decided to inflict the paddle punishment, and thirty-six hundred blows were equally administered
[50 swats each].

One fellow committed suicide, by shooting himself, to avoid the paddle. Subsequently, five others of the gang were found dead from gun-shot wounds. Our informant says that the news of this affair caused the greatest pleasure among all the honest and decent inhabitants of the parish where it occurred, and the adjacent Attakapas parishes, which have long suffered from the depredations of the powerful gang.


Barrel staves

January 12 2013, 7:24 PM 

Wooden barrel staves were often used as improvised punishment paddles in earlier times. Barrel staves are made of high-quality, strong, straight-grained wood, usually oak. The staves have a complex shape, necessary to produce a water-tight containers. The staves are steamed to form a curve before barrels are made.

It is unclear whether unused staves or staves from broken barrels were used as paddles. The latter may have been plentiful. In some cases, the stave was modified to make it more paddle like and convenient to use. Unmodified staves have sharp edges and corners, and are too big to conveniently grip.

Barrel sizes varied but a common-sized stave was about 38 inches long, 4 inches wide at its midpoint, and nearly an inch thick. Such a stave is quite big and heavy enough to cause serious injury.

There is no evidence that staves were ever routinely used in schools.

American Way

Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

January 13 2013, 12:13 PM 

A barrel stave was used in these previously posted links on spanking machines. Note the different sizes for anatomy and offense. The spanking on the bare appears to be that of a female by the shoes of the miscreant.

New York Times - Jan 29, 1937

Arthur C. Whitaker, Mayor of this city from 1912 to 1921 and an optometrist here, died of pneumonia last night in Bridgeton Hospital.




Barrel staves commonly used

January 13 2013, 11:21 PM 

[linked image]

American Way

Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

January 14 2013, 12:38 AM 

Wow. 300 posts. Reverend Howard Benedict is no stranger to our habitue.








Barrel staves popular

January 14 2013, 3:26 AM 

[linked image]



That Bridgeton, NJ Spanking 'Machine'.

January 14 2013, 4:40 AM 

Hi American Way,

Somewhat off-topic I'm afraid, but nonetheless consequent on an issue raised here. In your January 13 2013, 12:13 PM post above, concerning the barrel stave 'spanking machine' instituted by Arthur C. Whitaker, Mayor of Bridgeton, New Jersey, you say of the two press illustrations you link:

The spanking on the bare appears to be that of a female by the shoes of the miscreant.

Phew! Hot stuff! Certainly a little avant-garde for the early 1920s US press I'd have thought! Especially as one of the publications claims that the event depicted took place in public in front of city hall!

Alas close examination indicates, I think, that my misgivings are well founded sad.gif One really needs to look at both illustrations, and I can quite understand why the apparent shape of a shoe in one of the illustrations led you to make your observation. Boys don't normally wear high heels. But then did girls of an age likely to be put through the 'machine'? And if they did would they have such thick heels?

Consideration of the above extracts from the two illustrations will I think indicate that the miscreant being dealt with is a lad rather than a girl. Further, it appears from the more comprehensive of the two accounts that the punishments took place not in front of the city hall but in a back room thereof. And although it is stated that boys had to take down their trousers 'in the old-fashioned way' there is no mention of an equivalent disrobing being required of the 'several girls' said to have been subjected to the punishment on the Mayor's instructions and with the full consent of their parents.


Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

January 14 2013, 5:03 AM 

I must beg members of this forum not to post images of bare buttocks here, not even EAL

This is serious historical research thread, if you please.
[linked image]



Those bare buttocks.

January 14 2013, 5:55 AM 

Hi KK,

Your every wish is my command - despite the fact that it is entirely your fault that I got no sleep the other night due to watching numerous episodes of 'The Thin Blue Line' on YouTube! happy.gifwink.gifhappy.gif

Clear your browser cache, reload the thread, and all should be well.

American Way

Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

January 14 2013, 11:29 AM 

There is no mention of an equivalent disrobing being required of the 'several girls'

Good thing what would Jenny say? happy.gifhappy.gifhappy.gif Seriously A_L, good work, the miscreant is definitely a boy. Leave it to you to kill a good story. wink.gif

Thanks for reminding us we are not an adult content site. happy.gif


More on barrel staves

January 16 2013, 8:33 AM 

'Spanking Machine' Reforms a Village
Both Adults and Youngsters "Undergo Treatment" -- and They Don't Come Back!

BRIDGETON, N. J. -- "Schoolboys here don't know that the 'spanking machine' in the back room of the city hall is a barrel stave with a handle carved on it," says Mayor Arthur C. Whitaker.

"It has been very successful since I established it about six years ago. I should say that between fifty and eighty boys and several adults have successfully undergone treatment. And I have never noticed anybody who has tried it once hurrying back for more."

He explained that he had laid in the staves with the idea that many boys might be propelled by them along the path of rectitude who might otherwise go to the State reformatory and from there to a life of crime.

Is Satisfied With Results

"I am entirely satisfied with the results," he said recently. "I personally know of several boys who have been started on the road to useful careers largely through its use. As a preventive of truancy, petty stealing -- that might lead to more serious offenses -- I can recommend it highly.

"Teachers in school obtain order immediately when they ask bad boys if they want to go over to the back room of the city hall and meet the 'spanking machine.' Parents have come to us and asked us to use it on their children."

The mayor said he never worked the "machine" himself, but that either Romaine Kincaid, truant officer, or one of the "husky" policemen did it.

First "Spanker" Proud of Job

"Our first 'spanker' was old Captain Woodruff," the mayor said. "He was mighty proud of the job, too, until he retired from the police force.

"Of course, no boy -- no minor -- ever is spanked without the consent of parent or guardian. Sometimes permission is hard to get, but when it is made clear that the alternative will be worse for the culprit, the difficulty ends."

--The Saturday Blade, Chicago, March 27, 1920, page 2.


Stave used at school

January 16 2013, 8:58 AM 

[linked image]

Numerous news items suggests that barrel staves where commonly used as weapons and to beat people. Presumably, barrels and barrel stave were ubiquitous in earlier times.



January 16 2013, 6:18 PM 

[linked image]

The staves appear to differ in width. Alternative wide and narrow?

The shape of the staves is such they fit snug at the bottom and splay out at the top until wetted and heated so they can be bent and brought together at the top and confined by iron hoops.

It is remarkable that durable water-tight containers could be made from wood. The wood needed to be straight-grained and strong.

I have since discovered that my town's water supply used wooden pipes when it was first constructed. There were problems with the ground settling and the joints between pipes leaking.

Not all barrels needed to be water tight - those for apples for example. This was before "tins", steel drums, plastics and strong kraft paper.

Many commodities came in barrels. It is likely that barrels of all sizes were everywhere. A damaged barrel, or one that become over-dry might revert quickly to loose staves. Such staves seemed to have many uses. Some were used to make skis.

The notion of hitting people with flat pieces of rigid wood as a form of corporal punishment seems to have been well engrained long before the paddle became popular in US schools. But why in the USA but not elsewhere?



Barrel-staves used at sea for "cobbing".

January 16 2013, 8:08 PM 

The Journal of Llewellin Penrose, a Seaman. Volume 1, page 21.

Another law was, strictly to observe the hours of ten in the morning and four in the evening, for getting rid of the vermin with which we greatly abounded. This law was so punctually observed, that if any one was found to transgress it, he was directly brought to the gun, where he received a good cobbing, alias ten and a puss on his posteriors with a barrel-stave.


The author ran away to sea in 1744, aged 19. In 1746 he was taken prisoner by the Spanish. The above passage is from his time as a prisoner aboard ship.

Cobbing was a common informal punishment used by sailors on their own in earlier times, as mentioned in in earlier messages in this thread. Barrels would have been common items aboard ship, and staves readily available.

"alias ten and a puss" = also called "ten and a puss".


Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

January 17 2013, 2:30 AM 

Barrel and stave dimensions: http://books.google.com/books?id=1JxSjfn-spIC&pg=PA276

Where barrels more ubiquitous in the USA, and more staves available for spanking than in other countries of the time?

Suitable timber might be more available in a new land and barrels cheaper.

Goods in barrels needed to be transported greater distances perhaps making the return of empties too costly.


Bob T

Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

January 17 2013, 11:38 AM 

What does "and a puss" mean? I googled it without success.


Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

January 17 2013, 11:33 PM 

Bob T,

I also was puzzled by the expression "alias ten and a puss".

I have not found any other use of the words and wonder if it is a typo or transcription error. Possibly, the intended word was "purse" rather than "puss". Writing of that time tended to use the long "s" resembling the letter "f".

A purse was the last stroke of a cobbing. It was laid on hard as possible. See: http://www.network54.com/Forum/198833/message/1327106604/


Woodshed and the paddle

January 19 2013, 8:09 PM 

The woodshed features often in American literature. What was it, and why was it important? Why did it become the place to administer CP?

In the pioneering days in the USA, much of the cooking and the heating of houses was done by burning wood in a stove. In rural areas, much of the wood was harvested nearby. The green logs were sawed into short lengths, split using axes or wedges and then stacked in a simple well-ventilated shed to dry, a process taking months. Dry wood burns hotter and gives much more heat than damp.

The woodshed needed to be conveniently located but perhaps separate from the house for fire safety reasons. It is likely the woodshed became a utility building, perhaps a place to dry clothes in wet weather, store garden implements and perhaps even to cook during hot weather in regions with hot summers and cold winters.

Broken shingles and barrels saved for use as firewood might have been stored in the woodshed. The sawhorse for holding logs may have been convenient for miscreants to be bent over. The woodshed, being a bit separated from the living quarters, may have provided a degree privacy and protected the womenfolk. None of these suggested reasons seem compelling.

I live in a region where wood is commonly burned for heating during winter. Many people store their winter supply under cover from rain but none of the shelter is suitable for disciplinary purposes. And none of the implements are useful for spanking.

Why was the woodshed used for CP? Does it relate in anyway to the popularity of the paddle?


Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

January 19 2013, 8:52 PM 

Psalm 6 as translated into modern American , in the Southern States

1 Please, God, no more yelling, no more trips to the woodshed. 2 Treat me nice for a change; I'm so starved for affection. Can't you see I'm black and blue, 3 and soul? God, how long will it take for you to let up? 4 Break in, God, and break up this fight; if you love me at all, get me out of here. 5 I'm no good to you dead, am I? I can't sing in your choir if I'm buried in some tomb! 6 I'm tired of all this - so tired. My bed has been floating forty days and nights On the flood of my tears. My mattress is soaked, soggy with tears. 7 The sockets of my eyes are black holes; nearly blind, I squint and grope. 8 Get out of here, you Devil's crew: at last God has heard my sobs. 9 My requests have all been granted, my prayers are answered. 10 Cowards, my enemies disappear. Disgraced, they turn tail and run.

and another usage from 'Buffy the vampire slayer'. Drusilla , ( the 19th century vampire sired by Spike) :

(Upon witnessing Angel and Darla having sex) "Snake in the Woodshed! Snake in the Woodshed! Snake in the Woodshed!"


Woodshed and the paddle

January 19 2013, 9:12 PM 

Hi KK, an interesting thought and one I might be able to add an anecdote to. My father was born in the 1920's and raised on a farm in Poland, and indeed they had a woodshed (actually several outbuildings, barn, storage, etc). A few years ago I asked him about his (CP) experiences, both at home and school. He is very old now and memory is fading ... although it's a difficult subject to ask one's own father, I really wanted to know before it was lost to memory.

While it was common to get a more typical spanking within the home, on two occassions he was taken into the woodshed as a more severe bare-bottom thrashing was intended to be meted. There was no need to keep an implement in the shed, his father simply removed his trouser belt. It also appears that this was a better venue so as not to disturb the household with the screaming expected to ensue. A final point is a nasty reality of such an intense chastisement meted on a child: the fear &/or intensity of that degree of belting can lead to temporary loss of bodily function. (I assume this in his case, but don't know this for fact because it's not something I could bring myself to ask). However, that's much less of an issue in a farm out-building rather than inside the house, and I suspect this ugly fact may have played a role in that venue being a choice where a more severe beating was intended.

I should add that despite this treatement, he did not carry it through to my upbringing despite that in the 1960's, it was still considered perfectly acceptable practice. Except for one occassion where he gave me a couple of hard smacks on the clothed bottom, he otherwise never chastised me. (My mother was another story entirely).



Ohio and the paddle

January 19 2013, 9:45 PM 

Ohio is a state in the Midwestern United States, assessible from the south by navigable river. Possibly, there was better communications with the South than with the Eastern states in the early days before railways. The state seems to feature a lot in literature, news reports, etc. containing mentions of paddles. Is or was there something about the state that would account for this?


Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

January 20 2013, 11:57 PM 

A Documentary History of the Free School
Movement in New York State

Deputy Commissioner of Education and Assistant
Commissioner for Elementary Education



Discipline was severe and punishment was inflicted for slight
offenses. The chief instruments of torture were those used in Holland
and, unfortunately for the Dutch boys in America, brought to
this country with the other essential equipment of a public school.
These were a heavy wooden stick shaped like a paddle called a
plak and the renowned switch as celebrated and necessary in public
schools throughout the civilized world as the master himself and
which was called the roede.

This review of the colonial schools covers the period included
within the forty years of Dutch rule. It relates to elementary
schools only.


Paddling success, 1901 (fiction)

January 21 2013, 12:34 AM 

The Western Journal of Education.
San Francisco, January 1901

The Rebellion of the Teachers


Mrs. Johnathan Snawtle had been in her young days a school teacher, and an
exceptionally fine one, if we take her word for it. When she started out on her
pedagogical career, she possessed the usual amount of scholarship of the normal
school variety, and an inborn conviction that it was her mission in life to reform
the educational world.

[. . .]


Now, teachers are the most long-suffering, patient, putting-up-with-everything
class of people on the face of the earth, but there is authority somewhere for the
statement that even a worm will turn if trodden on past all endurance; and one day.
after hearing of a fresh installment of what seemed to them Mrs. Snawtles misdirected
energy, they held an indignation meeting. They all attended this meeting,
including the superintendent and the principals of the different buildings. It was a
secret session, but when the teachers emerged, the ten, each of whom had a Snawtle
in her class, looked quite cheerful.

The next day, the eldest Snawtle, a boy of eighteen years, appeared in class
having as usual made no preparation for his work. Not a book had he opened
and not a question could he answer. When his teacher inquired why he had not
learned his lesson, he replied, looking impudently at her with the selfsame smile
which had become a chronic part of his mothers facial expression. that he had not
learned them because he had not wanted to. Whereupon the teacher ordered him
into the principals office.

Young Snawtle was surprised at this. He had been accustomed from his youngest
school days to being made a special subject of prayer on the part of his teacher.
He had been sweetly reasoned with, talked to, and generally entreated to attend to
his own mental well-being. Everything that pedagogical ingenuity could devise
had been done to get him interested in his lessons, but without avail. There was
only one thing in the world that this boy had ever dreaded enough to make him
amenable to reason, and that was a good thrashing, such as his father had occasion-
ally bestowed on him, when his mother was away from home on business. He had
no fear of the school authorities, however. Long before. while yet a small boy, he
had carefully perused the pamphlet containing the rules of the school department,
which stated that any teacher found guilty of whipping any pupil whatsoever,
should be summarily dismissed. Corporal punishment as a means of moral persuasion
in the Sandspit schools was strictly forbidden.

With that smile still on his face, he followed his teacher into the office. No
explanation took place, just an intelligent look passed between teacher and principal,
and the latter rose and rang the bell for the janitor. Have you those tools
ready? he asked, when the man appeared.

"Yes, sir," replied the janitor, and he left the office for a moment reappearing
with a good-sized cracker-box and a big wooden paddle. He stood the box on end
in the middle of the oor, and the principal commanded Snawtle to get over it.
Snawtle demurred, but the chief was a big, strong man, and he looked very deter-
mined. He told the boy that if he did not get over, he would put him there, and
Snawtle got over. Then the principal picked up the paddle and prepared to go to work,
but the teacher took it from his hand saying she wanted the satisfaction of using it
herself. For fteen minutes she thoroughly enjoyed herself, while her superior
officer stood by to see that Snawtle stayed over the box as long as she wanted him to.
When the boy got back to his classroom, he took his books in a manner very sub-
dued, and went to work without being told. The smile had faded from his face
before the teachers muscles gave out; for, although she was a little woman, she
could be very energetic.

Meanwhile, the nine other Snawtles had been catching it at their schools. All
of them had been paddled once, and one, a fifteen year old girl who had been an
unmitigated nuisance in every class she had ever entered, had been over the box
three times.

The scene at Snawtle's at noon, when the ten of them got home and compared
notes, and related experiences, can be better imagined than described. Mrs. Snawtle
was for a short time, speechless with indignation. She kept them all home that
afternoon, and started out for the schools.

The superintendent opened his office door just two inches, told her he had no
time to talk to her, than closed the door and bolted it on the inside. The teachers
all acted in the same way, except that they kept their doors open long enough to
remind her that there was a clause in the school law relative to parents creating
any sort of disturbance in the presence of the school.

She called on the trustees and found them unsympathetic. The chairman was
actually rude to her. "No ma'am," he said, "it wont be no use for anybody to put
up any fight on them teachers. The board is proud of 'em. We dont care a darn
about their breakin' the rules, were goin' to meet in special session this evenin' to
rescind them rules, and pass some that'll be better adapted to the sort o' young ones
we seem to have now-a-days. And every teacher that has ever had to put up with
one 0' your kids in her school is a-goin' to get her salary raised ten dollars a
month." Words cannot paint Mrs, Snawtle's rage and disgust. And when she dis-
covered that the school board had set the fashion, and the whole town showed
indications of following suit, when even the Mothers' Society went back on her,
she announced her intention of leaving Sandspit. She took her whole family and
went to Cape Nome.

The teachers rejoiced to see her go, but they expressed heart-felt sympathy for
the colony at Nome.


Barrel stave in action

January 23 2013, 11:50 PM 

[linked image]

The caption reads "Meeting the board of education" but it is clearly a barrel stave that is being used in this staged photo, one of a stero pair.

The stave seems far too large and too difficult to group for practical and safe use.


Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

January 23 2013, 11:56 PM 

[linked image]

A cylinder is being used in this home spanking. The man may be holding a spare.

["grip" not "group" in the barrel stave paddling comment immediately above.]


Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

January 24 2013, 9:20 PM 

Words enter the language after the idea, object or action referred to by the word comes into existence. There is usually a delay before dictionaries and reference books recognise the word.

The disciplinary paddle was not recognised by the 1913 big Webster's dictionary, as noted previously. Big dictionaries took many years to compile so often omitted recent words in common use at the time of publication.

I have reported above a number of recognised dictionaries and dialect word lists, both with and without the disciplinary paddle, published in the decades before the big Webster's. The following is an important reference work without the paddle.


Universal dictionary of the English language; a new and original work presenting for convenient reference the orthography, pronunciation, meaning, use, origin and development of every word in the English language together with condensed explanations of fifty thousand important subjects and an exhaustive encyclopaedia of all the arts and sciences profusely illustrated, ed.

by Robert Hunter (English ed.) and Prof. Charles Morris (American ed.) With the assistance of eminent specialists.

Published: New York, P. F. Collier, 1897

The disciplinary paddle, and paddling were clearly well known in the South before 1897. It is also likely that flat objects such as barrel staves, shingles, butter paddles etc. were used for corporal punishment in the North before this date. It is likely the words spread north and possible the practice of using a specially-made implement too.


"An unexpected meeting with the board"

January 25 2013, 12:30 AM 


Do NOT click here unless of robust constitution. Content may offend.


Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

January 25 2013, 12:47 AM 

HI KK, thank you for those posts. I also have some stereoview paddling scenes, happy to contribute if you like. My problem is, when I use the forum's facility to ad a photo to my post, the images always disappear after a time. How do you post them permanently? Thanks


Re: Posting paddling pictures

January 25 2013, 2:17 AM 


You will be aware this forum is devoted to school CP and related matters. We can stray a little but not too far or for too long - provided only we also post on-topic material to balance the off-topic.

This thread is devoted to the origin of the school paddle. I am trying to keep it serious and on topic. I have included photos and drawings showing that paddles were well known in the USA outside of school. Their adoption by schools is therefore not too strange.

There are two ways of dealing with photos. The first is to give the permanent hyperlink to an existing image on someone else's website. It is important not to hot link - that is, to use the codes that cause the photo to appear automatically. Doing so takes the photo out of content and steals bandwidth.

The second approach is to save the image in your own gallery on Photobucket or similar, or on your own website. You can then hot link if you wish.

Hot linking has been discussed at length here: http://www.network54.com/Forum/198833/message/1329556902/



Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

January 25 2013, 9:31 AM 

Hi KK,

I trust that you won't object to a brief off-topic post to say that I have put some information on pictures for HH here in Computing Corner.

American Way

Paddle and salt water

January 25 2013, 8:26 PM 

KK I know you have well chronicled the Elmira Reformatory, nonetheless, I thought this might be of some interests.

Elmira Reformatory October 31, 1894. Paddle and salt water. Second link.



American Way

Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

January 25 2013, 9:11 PM 

Bridewell Chicago.

January 8, 1899. Chicago Daily Tribune. Visit to Adolph Sturm at Bridewell in Chicago.

Study meted of punishment. The room where the young offenders are punished was next shown. The spanking paddles were passed from hand to hand. They are of heavy leather on and one-half inches wide, and three foot long. The exact amount of punishment inflicted depends largely on the strength and will of the punisher. A strong man could do considerable injury to a slight lad, and the exact amount of pained doled out to each youth rests solely with the person doing the whipping. Some of the Aldermen remained a few minutes in the dark cells previously used for punishment, and as he stepped into the light remarked that he would rather "take a licking" then stay in there an hour.

Adolph Sturm



American Way

Red Paddle

January 26 2013, 5:53 PM 

Maybe not the earliest but goes back a few years. Cats and Mats may not be too pleased with the Cats and New Zealand controversy. happy.gif Most recently, Renee, et al, mentioned in their TWP site. Much too flimsy to punish the likes of A_L. wink.gif


Miss Phillips had one of those Paddle Ball paddles, without the ball and band, painted bright red.


There is an iconic scene of the paddle ball with Marilyn Monroe in "Misifits" posted priorly. Who can get enough of her?


New delightful post.


Miss Phillips had one of those Paddle Ball paddles, without the ball and band, painted bright red.


These toys been around for a long time and must have been improvised both for home and school use.


Posted yesterday under Moonlightin thread. Whether that paddle is the same used in the game is anyone's guess. It does sound a lot more formidable. It's interesting that Loretta gets paddled and whipped as in two forms of instruments of correction in the late 1940's and early 1950's. The paddle probably a more formal one used more in the school than the home.

Loretta Lynn: Coal Miner's Daughter By Loretta Lynn

One time we got a new teacher that had only one arm, and we figured we'd test him out right away. But he made up for the arm he didn't have with a red paddle, and he just about wore us out. I don 't know how he did itbut we never bothered him again.

American Way

As you can see I joined two links.

January 26 2013, 6:42 PM 

Oops. Try this.




Re: The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

January 28 2013, 5:53 AM 


I hope you don't mind that I have hotlinked here to the photo you posted to the Computing Corner thread.

[linked image]

This photo is half of a stereoscopic pair and the last of a series showing an amusing staged classroom incident, circa 1906.

The paddle looks rather narrow. The boy is being held rather than "willingly" submitting perhaps suggesting that school paddling,
although well known, had not yet become a well-engrained custom in 1906. The teacher's choice of plaid trousers seems unfortunate.


The big Oxford dictionary

January 28 2013, 9:05 AM 

The first edition of the Oxford dictionary was published in parts over more than four decades, beginn