In the Spring of 2014, Valparaiso University’s Material Culture class studied artifacts from our collection, giving detailed historical context to some of our most unique and insightful artifacts. Thanks to Dr. Buggeln, Valparaiso University, the PoCo Muse collections volunteers, and the students for all the work and dedication put into this project.
The following research was compiled by Allison Whalen:
Adjustable School Desk, ca. 1940s
Wood and metal
This adjustable, wood and metal school desk is from the 1940s era. The manufacturer is unknown. Some interesting features of this desk include the ink well near the top of the desk and the swivel chair connected to the desk. The height of both desk and seat can be adjusted to fit the size of the individual student, using holes located on the pipes supporting the desk and the chair.
At the time this desk was used, individuality and independence were two ideas that were becoming more and more important in education. This desk helped promote that individuality because it was a space one particular student could occupy, with storage for her books and supplies.
People all over the country still purchase these desks to put in their homes, either for decoration or for actual use. This shows that the desk still means something valuable to people now, perhaps because of nostalgia for an earlier era in American education. When sitting at this desk, one can experience a physical representation of what education was like in the 1940s and 1950s.