SHORTRIDGE HIGH SCHOOL
Bass Photo Collection, Courtesy Indianapolis Historical Society
SHORTRIDGE HISTORICAL SKETCH
Shortridge was founded in 1864 as Indianapolis High School and was the state's first free high school. The school's name was changed to Shortridge in 1898 at the request of the Indianapolis school board. The school was, at least in part, the product of the persistence of Indiana educator Caleb Mills. Mills had doggedly lobbied the state legislature for free public schools throughout the 1840's and 1850's.
Abram C. Shortridge, the man for whom the school was named, was elected as school superintendent in 1863. Shortridge became known for his high standards and his reliance upon rigorous testing. In spite of the fact that the school was founded in 1864, superintendent Shortridge would not allow students to attempt high school level work until 1865. In subsequent years errant faculty as well as students were subjected to weekly drills until a subject was mastered to his satisfaction.
Some of Shortridge's other policies also had a profound effect on the nature and the quality of education at the high school. One of his most important decisions involved the hiring of female teachers. Because of the low salaries offered, he recommended that women rather than men be hired to teach. For the next several decades, these women would serve as the main providers of low cost, high quality education in the city of Indianapolis.
In 1878--only fourteen years after it had opened-- Shortridge served 502 students with a faculty of eleven. The students were almost exclusively white and were, for the most part, the children of laborers, mechanics, and merchants.
Students who went on to develop distinguished careers outside of Shortridge included historian and feminist scholar Mary Ritter Beard, Senator Richard Lugar, Egyptologist George Reisner, civil rights activist and lawyer Henry J. Richardson, novelist Kurt Vonnegut, journalist Claude Bowers and Admiral Raymond A. Spruance.
Exerpted from: Laura Sheerin Gaus, Shortridge High School, 1864-1981 (1985).
THREE GENERATIONS AT SHORTRIDGE
Three generations of women in my family attended Shortridge. My great-grandmother, Elizabeth Faust, graduated in 1896, when it was still known as Indianapolis High School. From the school annual (tongue in cheek): "Miss Elizabeth Faust has secured a position with the Morrison Opera Company for the following season" (I wonder, did she dislike singing, or was she really bad at it?) My grandmother, Katherine Knauss graduated 30 years later, in June of 1926. The Shortridge annual of that year said she "Claims the honor of having the smallest feet of any girl in the senior class. Likes to build air castles, but from what we hear, most of them are in Florida." My mother, Nancy Tackett, attended Shortridge in 1944, but later transferred to Broad Ripple High, where she graduated in 1946. School annuals had ceased to add bits of personal trivia by that time, due to space restrictions, no doubt.
Shortridge High School--Class of 1896
Anderson, Martha E.|
Bridges, Frank L.
Brown, George R.
Downey, Bertrand B.
Floyd, James L.
Hauk, Mabel G.
Holmes, Ira M.
Metcalf, Martha L.
Moore, Adelaide M.
Outland, Anna V.
Ritter, Dwight S.
Shover, Esther Fay
Stafford, Effie Ethel
Tucker, Clarence A.
I would like to thank the Indiana State Historical Society for generously allowing me to publish the above information on Shortridge High School. For further information about Shortridge High School and other Indiana history, click on the link above and visit their website.
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