• In this memoir, teacher William B. Freer's recalls how he taught Filipino children to read and write by blending American lessons with Filipino culture. For example, he explained that when singing the nursery rhyme "Cherries Ripe," he substituted the names of Filipino delicacies because "cherries were unknown in the Islands." Courtesy of University of Michigan via HathiTrust.

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    The Philippine experiences of an American teacher; a narrative of work and travel in the Philippine Islands
    • Date
    • 1906
    • Creator
    • Freer, William B. (William Bowen), 1865-.
    • Rights
    • Public domain. Learn more at http://www.hathitrust.org/access_use
    • Partner
    • HathiTrust
    • Contributing Institution
    • University of Michigan.

  • American educators instructed Puerto Rican teachers in the traditions and benefits of US education. In this photo, teachers gather for a conference in Las Marias, Puerto Rico. Courtesy of University of Scranton via PA Digital.

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    Teachers in Puerto Rico, 1914
    • Description
    • Photograph of a group of Puerto Rican teachers, presumably penmanship instructors, attending a conference in Las Marias on February 27, 1914.
    • Rights
    • This digital resource is believed to be in the public domain. The University of Scranton Helen Gallagher McHugh Special Collections staff is unaware of any restrictions on the use of this digital material.
    • Partner
    • PA Digital
    • Contributing Institution
    • University of Scranton

  • Hawaiian schools were associated as much with the colonial government as they were with the island's large population of Christian missionaries. In this photo, a group of Hawaiian girls in uniform gather in the front of their schoolhouse. Courtesy of California Historical Society via University of Southern California Libraries.

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    A group of children gather in front of a native Hawaiian school for girls, ca.1890
    • Date
    • 1889
    • Description
    • Photograph of a group of more than 50 children gather in front of a native Hawaiian school for girls, ca.1890. The two-story school building is constructed of wood and can be seen in the background. The children are in a group in the foreground on th... more
      Photograph of a group of more than 50 children gather in front of a native Hawaiian school for girls, ca.1890. The two-story school building is constructed of wood and can be seen in the background. The children are in a group in the foreground on the side of a hill. Most are wearing light-colored clothes. Several bare trees can be seen in the background at left. less
    • Rights
    • Public Domain. Release under the CC BY Attribution license--http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/--Credit both “University of Southern California. Libraries” and “California Historical Society” as the source. Digitally reproduced by the... more
      Public Domain. Release under the CC BY Attribution license--http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/--Credit both “University of Southern California. Libraries” and “California Historical Society” as the source. Digitally reproduced by the USC Digital Library; From the California Historical Society Collection at the University of Southern California. Send requests to address or e-mail given. Phone (213) 740-5900; fax (213) 740-2343. USC Libraries Special Collections. Doheny Memorial Library, Los Angeles, CA 90089-0189. Specol@usc.edu. less
    • Partner
    • University of Southern California Libraries
    • Contributing Institution
    • California Historical Society

Schoolhouses provided a space for Americans and native peoples to come together, albeit on uneven ground. In Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines, students gathered, and the relationships between them and their teachers mirrored the power dynamics between the colonized and colonizer.

Following the annexation of Puerto Rico, the US reopened the island's schools with American educators. The US also prioritized public education in the Philippines. Government policy allocated nearly half of its annual budget to schooling, and official legislatures dictated curricula. Teachers taught almost exclusively in English, and they modeled their problem sets, student exercises, and class rules after American traditions. William B. Freer taught in the Philippines from 1901 to 1904. A native of Akron, Ohio, he worked under a contract with the US government and instructed classrooms in villages on the island of Luzon. He documented this work with writings and photographs that he later published as a memoir. Reflecting on his time overseas, Freer framed education as a colonial endeavor. He helped mold students into good subjects, familiar with and loyal to the US. Freer himself concluded: "In such absence of enlightened sentiment...what genuine well-wisher of the Filipinos will desire to allow them… their independence...to place the responsibility of the ignorant many in the hands of the educated few?"