Pens, Ink, and Paper
Penmanship was an important skill
it was commonly believed that the appearance of ones script was more important than its accuracy. The quill pen was used for important writing tasks or for written work that would be exhibited. It was the teachers job to whittle goose quills and make ink for the inkwells. In cities, the ink was made of ink powder mixed with water. In the country, the ink was made of lampblack or tannic acid from oak tree galls mixed with light oil or from swamp maple bark and copperas. Writing with ink could be messy, so students used blotting paper to absorb excess ink from the page when they were finished.
By the 1870s mass-produced paper was inexpensive enough to be used in the classroom, bringing with it the opportunity to take work from school home to share with parents. Also, students could write and keep longer pieces including stories, journals, and other sentimental or self-expressive writing.
Then & Now: