Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences



Committee Chair

Ken Fones-Wolf.

Committee Co-Chair

Melissa Bingmann

Committee Member

John Cuthbert


One-room schools provided the educational settings for the majority of West Virginians until well into the twentieth century. The distribution of the population throughout the rural, rolling, and mountainous terrain resulted in the location of schools within walking distance for most students. The school population consisted of students of various ages and different grades contained in one room. Teachers required diverse skills, in order to perform as academic instructor, nurse, custodian, and entertainment leader at recess. The rural schools gave students in these communities an opportunity to achieve an education, offering both academics and life lessons. The thesis will examine three stages in the history of West Virginia's one-room schools. First, what was the role of one-room schools in the development of human growth and opportunity for the population of a predominately-rural state? Second, West Virginia experienced an industrial development beginning in the 1880s, but one that relied principally on resource extraction in rural areas. How did one-room schools adapt to the state's industrial transformation and the attendant demographic and social changes? Lastly, one-room schools were a fixture in many of West Virginia's communities. Whether up the head of a hollow, near a creek, or in the grassy bottom of a mountain valley, these facilities existed and became important community institutions and social centers. When the state moved toward rural school consolidation in the twentieth century, what was the loss to the community by the closing of one-room schools in West Virginia? The investigation of these questions will allow for a better understanding of the role of the one-room school in West Virginia's educational past.