Historically speaking: Remembering Superintendent Doolittle

H.S. Doolittle, who was widely known as an educator throughout Michigan, served as Superintendent of the Negaunee Schools for 26 years, from 1922 to 1948. (Photo courtesy of the Negaunee Historical Society)

H.S. Doolittle, who was widely known as an educator throughout Michigan, served as Superintendent of the Negaunee Schools for 26 years, from 1922 to 1948. At that time it was the second longest span in which a superintendent had served in any district in the Upper Peninsula, exceeded only by Fred Jeffers of Painesdale. Mr. Doolittle was a native of Lower Michigan. He completed his undergraduate work at Western Michigan and obtained his first position as superintendent at Wenona where he served from 1908-1911. The following year he returned to the University of Michigan to work on his Master’s degree. From 1912 to 1917, he taught school in Saginaw, leaving later in the year to accept a position at Ann Arbor High School where remained until 1918. He then returned to Saginaw as the principal of Saginaw Eastern High School until 1920. He then moved to the Upper Peninsula and served as a principal at Calumet High School from 1920 to 1922. While he was in Ann Arbor, Doolittle was one of the organizers of the Michigan High School Athletic Association. Contrary to his name, during his twenty six years as Superintendent at Negaunee, there was considerable progress made in the building program and the curriculum revision. The building program included the erection of one of the outstanding athletic plants in the Upper Peninsula at the playgrounds. It consisted of a lighted, tile drained football field, a grandstand with offices for the coaches, locker and equipment rooms, a quarter mile track, tennis courts, baseball and softball diamonds. In 1936, the Manual Training building was remodeled and a third floor was added to accommodate space for the school music program. The following year the Central Grade School was completed. This was the first time that there were separate gyms for boys and girls physical education classes. Other highlights were as follows:

1923- The National Honor society was organized.

1925-Intramural basketball was established for boys from sixth to 12th grades.

1927- Intramural football leagues were organized for ninth and tenth grade boys.

1928- High school courses of study reorganized to include four classifications, College, Preparatory, Commercial, Vocational and Home Economics.

1928- A salary schedule was approved for teachers.

1928-R.W.LeMieux of Marquette was hired as the first full time band and orchestra director.

1929-The board of education approved payment of teacher’s salaries on a 12 month basis.

1930-Bus transportation was initiated for students living in rural areas with a run to the Cambria Location. The service was later expanded to include Buffalo Location, Rolling Mill Location, Sands, Negaunee and Richmond Townships.

1937- Report cards were abolished in elementary and junior high. Grades were abolished and a system of reports by letter was established. Failures and promotions in the grades were discontinued. Pupils advanced according to achievement. rather than on the basis of the number of years that they had been in school.

1939-45- There was a rapid growth in character building organizations. There were five Boy Scout troops, two Cub Scout packs, seven Camp Fire girls groups and six Girl Scout troops. The scout groups had rooms in the Central Grade School where they could meet. Mr. Doolittle was active in civic affairs. He helped to organize the Community Chest, was a member of the Lions Club, and held membership in the Chamber of Commerce. He was a Boy Scout leader at the local level and the Upper Peninsula level. During the school’s Diamond Jubilee observance in 1954, Mr. Doolittle was selected as the individual who had contributed the most to the educational system and was presented a plaque which is displayed at the museum.

The Doolittle family lived on Main Street next door to the American Legion, which is now the Historical Museum.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper *

Starting at $4.62/week.

Subscribe Today