The Industrial School for Girls

Industrial School for Girls

Located at 41 Atherton Street was the Industrial School for Girls, a vocational school aimed at helping young women secure trade jobs. The school opened on October 16, 1911 and originally offered classes in dress making, millinery, and supplementary training in subjects such as English and arithmetic. As the school grew in popularity, additional courses in household arts and trade cooking were added.

Dress Making Class - Industrial School for Girls

Enrollment in the school was offered to girls and young women between the ages of 14 and 25. The school’s classes took place Monday through Friday from 8:45 to 4:30 and the program took two years to complete. Later on, the school started offering evening classes. The evening classes were geared towards girls and young women who were already working in a trade during the day and wanted to learn more advanced skills at night. The school would also find opportunities for the girls to earn money and gain experience by working with department stores and tradeshops while enrolled in the program.

Millinery Class - Industrial School for Girls

The first class of the Industrial School for Girls graduated in 1913. In order to graduate, the girls and young women needed to work at least 3 months in their specific trade as well as pass a series of tests in the form of work and tasks supervised by the tradeshop workers. Multiple students were able to find employment after completing the program and according to the 1913 Annual Report, “Gratifying reports have come from employers regarding these girls -- reports of their adaptability, interest, good training, with assurances of steady employment,” (p. 179).

Enrollment in the school suffered in 1917, most likely due to the US entering World War I. Due to the dwindling numbers, the school was moved from the Atherton Street building to the High School where certain classrooms would be set aside for the classes. In 1920 the Industrial School for Girls was dissolved, and the High School absorbed their program to form a Household Arts Department.


City of Somerville. 1911 Annual Report.
City of Somerville. 1912 Annual Report.
City of Somerville. 1913 Annual Report.
City of Somerville. 1917 Annual Report.
City of Somerville. 1920 Annual Report.

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