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Publication Documents Sacramento County School History

Local School History Book Covers First 150 Years

Black and white photo of students in front of Freeport Grammar School in 1892

A new publication has been released by the Sacramento County Office of Education (SCOE) to share nuggets of historical gold about the early days of public schooling in Sacramento County.

The 36-page paperbound book is one in a series presented by the California Retired Teachers Association (CRTA), State Capital Division #5, covering Sacramento-area educators and school history. It is the result of several years of work by members of the chapter's history committee. Under the leadership of past chairman J. Martin "Mike" Weber, committee members researched and synopsized the lives of the 19 county superintendents who served from 1853 to 2003. SCOE staff designed, edited, and printed the publication.

The book, titled Sacramento County Superintendents of Schools: 150 Years of Leadership, 1853-2003, was planned in 2003 as a sesquicentennial tribute to the county's education leaders. It covers a span of 150 years commencing with Sacramento's first county superintendent of schools.

In his preface to the book, current Sacramento County Superintendent of Schools David W. Gordon stated, "The ... biographies and historical accounts serve as reminders of the dedication and commitment with which Sacramento County education leaders have served the community and its students for more than 150 years." Superintendent Gordon is the 20th individual to serve as county superintendent since the role was established by the California legislature in 1853.

A complimentary copy of the history book will be distributed to each </about/districts/>Sacramento County public school district and school, as well as each of the county's public library branches.

Copies of the book may be purchased for $7 (includes $2 postage and handling); send a check made payable to "CRTA Division #5" c/o Afton Louise Driggs, 756 4th Avenue, Sacramento, CA 95818.

An excerpt from the book, as well as an 1853–2003 timeline of education-related events in Sacramento County, is available online. Other books published by CRTA State Capital Division #5 are also listed online.

Research assistance and access to archived materials were provided by staff from the Sacramento Archives and Museum Collection Center. Researchers additionally obtained many of their sources from the Sacramento Room of the Sacramento Public Library and the California Room of the California State Library.

Among the interesting facts uncovered by the researchers were:

  • Sacramento's first county superintendent was a businessman who simultaneously worked as the county's tax collector (H.J. Bidleman, who served 1853 to 1854)
  • Sacramento's first elected county superintendent almost didn't make it to California: he was shipwrecked near San Francisco (Dr. F.W. Hatch, who served three terms of office starting in 1855)
  • The first woman elected Sacramento County superintendent couldn't vote for herself, as women's voting rights hadn't yet been established in California (Minnie O'Neill, who served 1907 to 1914)

Questions about the history book may be directed to the Sacramento County Office of Education Communications Office: (916) 228-2416.