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Quills, Chalk and 19th Century Education Program at CSS Neuse Civil War Interpretive Center

quill pen and ink

Have you ever been curious about what education was like before iPads and computers? If so, come to Third Saturday at the CSS Neuse Civil War Interpretive Center Saturday, Sept. 16, from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Join the celebration of National Library Card Sign-up and literacy month. Try your hand at writing with a quill pen and ink, slate boards and chalk, and learn about 19th century education. The event is free with regular admission and will be in the audiovisual room.

Education in 19th century North Carolina varied from place to place. The concept of public education had been around in the state prior to the 1800s. The first truly public school in North Carolina opened in January 1840 in Rockingham County. By 1850, there were 2,657 schools across the state, and by 1860, there were 3,082 public schools that enrolled more than 118,000 students.

In comparison to today, education in the 19th century meant going to school in a one room schoolhouse, writing on slate boards or using a quill pen and ink, not going to school when crops needed to be harvested and having several grade levels in one classroom. It meant adhering to strict rules enforced by the teacher, balancing work at home and getting an education, and having a limited curriculum in reading, writing, basic arithmetic, a little geography and history.  

Visitors of all ages can participate in learning about 19th century education, write on a slate board with chalk, and try their hand at quill pen and ink writing.

“This program will be an interactive way for children to learn about education and how it has changed and advanced over the past hundred years,” said visitor Nathaniel Johnson. 

The CSS Neuse is the only remaining commissioned Confederate ironclad above water. It was part of a new technology that the Confederacy used to combat the superior manpower and firepower of the Union Navy. Learn about this technological advance and warfare in eastern North Carolina at the CSS Neuse Civil War Interpretive Center. The Confederate Navy launched the CSS Neuse attempting to gain control of the lower Neuse River and New Bern, but ultimately destroyed the vessel to keep it out of Union hands.

The CSS Neuse Civil War Interpretive Center is located at 100 N. Queen St., Kinston, N.C., and open Tuesday-Saturday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Admission: adults $5, senior/active military $4, Students (ages 3-12) $3, ages 2 and under free.

For additional information, please call Rachel Kennedy at (252) 526-9600 x222. The CSS Neuse Center is within the Division of State Historic Sites in the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.

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