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Local History

Chautauqua Story Hour

 Helen Roberts Perkins was the story hour lady at the 1910 Springfield Chautauqua.  In addition to being the "story teller" she also wished to educate Springfield to the advantages of having a kindergarten school. 

At this time kindergartens were mostly privately run schools and required parents to pay a monthly fee.  According to an interview with Miss Perkins in the Springfield Republican  she stated that "there was a law that prohibits the expenditure of funds for the education of children under six"  Although she goes on to say that St. Louis, the birthplace of kindergartens in America, had already established public school kindergartens.  This movement was started by Susan Blow and aided by Dr. Harris, superintendent of the St. Louis city schools.  Miss Perkins felt that if the kindergarten was established in the public schools that Missouri would not need as many reform schools.

Miss Perkins stated that for about $160-70 dollars Springfield could hire a teacher, furnish supplies and expenses.  All that would be needed were 20-30 parents to subscribe to its maintenance.  The alternative she suggested was that benevolent groups , such as churches, the Elks, and federated Women's clubs, etc. could aid this enterprise.

While we don't know if Miss Perkins plea was answered, we do know that kindergartens were not new to Springfield. In the History of Greene County, Missouri 1883 it says, "In July, 1877, a Mrs. M. Louisa Durham started a kindergarten in North Springfield, which was something of a success for a time, but did not live long." 

You can visit the Springfield Greene County Library's Program Pod to find storytime programs near you.

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