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14 Old-School Back-to-School Photos from Around the World

14 Old-School Back-to-School Photos
14 Old-School Back-to-School Photos from Around the World
In the adult world, Labor Day marks the end of summer—but back when we were kids, the first day of school meant that summer vacation was officially over. We’ve gathered 14 vintage photos of students from around the world who swapped their swimsuits for uniforms, sharpened their pencils, and collected their books for another school year. Despite the decades and oceans that separate these school kids, one thing’s for sure: Nobody is happy when summer vacation is over.
By Maggie Fuller, AFAR Staff
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    14 Old-School Back-to-School Photos
    14 Old-School Back-to-School Photos
    In the adult world, Labor Day marks the end of summer—but back when we were kids, the first day of school meant that summer vacation was officially over. We’ve gathered 14 vintage photos of students from around the world who swapped their swimsuits for uniforms, sharpened their pencils, and collected their books for another school year. Despite the decades and oceans that separate these school kids, one thing’s for sure: Nobody is happy when summer vacation is over.

    Courtesy of Library of Congress
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    Samarkand, Uzbekistan—1915
    Samarkand, Uzbekistan—1915
    In the early 20th century, students in Central Asia made back-to-school look beareable with al fresco classes. These days, students in Uzbekistan are confined to classrooms like the rest of us. 

    Courtesy of Library of Congress
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    Killarney, Canada—1940
    Killarney, Canada—1940
    During the late 1940s, a post-WWII Canada felt pressure to act on its anti-Nazi regime principles and focused on bringing diversity to its education systems. At this time, schools like the rural one pictured here began to desegregate and embrace the cultural differences within the nation. 

    Courtesy of Library of Congress
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    Moscow, Russia—1930
    Moscow, Russia—1930

    Parents have been embarrassing their kids during school pick-ups and drop-offs for decades and Soviet Russia was no exception.

    Courtesy of Library of Congress

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    Xalapa-Enríquez, Mexico—1907
    Xalapa-Enríquez, Mexico—1907
    Students in the state of Veracruz, Mexico, gathered around the chalkboard to practice their ABCs. The Spanish alphabet includes three more letters than the English alphabet: ch, ñ and rr. 

    Courtesy of Library of Congress
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    Tripoli, Lebanon—1946
    Tripoli, Lebanon—1946
    Everyone’s favorite time of the school day is recess, but the idea of going back to class after running around in the sun makes us want to hide behind a tree, too. Hopefully this boy got a few more minutes of fun before hitting the books. 

    Courtesy of Library of Congress
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    Tokyo, Japan—1946
    Tokyo, Japan—1946
    These Japanese students helped to rebuild their school after WWII and some looked happier about being back in the classroom than others did. Though it could just be the braids and nautical-inspired uniforms that they weren’t thrilled about. 

    Courtesy of Library of Congress
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    Wisconsin—1944
    Wisconsin—1944
    The American flag waved over these Midwestern kids as a reminder of their shortlived freedom from studying during recess. If only today’s youth found above-ground pipes and tree stumps as fun to play on as these kids did. 

    Courtesy of Library of Congress
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    Sikkim, India—1960
    Sikkim, India—1960
    We’re hoping that the teacher chose the boy in the front row, at right, to answer the question. We’ll never know if he had the correct answer, but he gets an A for effort. 

    Courtesy of Library of Congress
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    France—1906
    France—1906
    Exams are always stressful and it looks like this open-book test is no exception. We’re hoping that the stoic teachers in the back of the class weren’t too hard on the students at this all-boys school in France

    Courtesy of Library of Congress
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    Valdez, Alaska—1910
    Valdez, Alaska—1910

    Students in Southern Alaska got bundled up for their class photo. 

    Courtesy of Library of Congress

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    Palestine—1910
    Palestine—1910
    In the early 20th century, Palestinian students sat cross-legged around their teacher for more than just storytime.

    Courtesy of Library of Congress
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    United Kingdom—1943
    United Kingdom—1943
    Before Jamie Oliver’s food revolution in British schools, the country made sure that students gathered around the lunch table for an ample meal every day, at an affordable price. For students whose families couldn’t afford the cost of the daily meal, the administration made arrangements for discounted or comped meals. 

    Courtesy of Library of Congress
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    Cidra, Puerto Rico—1938
    Cidra, Puerto Rico—1938
    In the early 1900s, the island of Puerto Rico had only 500 schools and a mere 20 percent of the population could read. By the time this photo was taken, the government had increased literacy by half and built nearly 3,000 schools. 

    Courtesy of Library of Congress
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    China, 1950
    China, 1950
    One of life’s universal truths is that once the bell rings, nothing can stop kids from running for freedom!

    Courtesy of Library of Congress
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    What’s Next. . .