Can You Remember These 1950s School Supplies?

If you were a child in the ‘50s, it has been almost seven decades since you first attended classes. After all this time, can you remember the items that were found in typical classrooms?

If you can remember a time before television sets were in every home and math problems couldn’t be done on a calculator yet, you’ll have no problem acing this quiz!

What is this classic school supply?

  • Tree trimmers
  • Bottle openers
  • Forks
  • Scissors

One of the most fun types of scissors found in classrooms are pinking shears, or scissors that leave a zig-zagged edge instead of a straight one when slicing.

What is this vintage school supply called?

  • Binder
  • Folder
  • Library book
  • Text book

Three-ring binders haven’t changed much in style in the past few decades because it would be difficult to retro-fit all of the accessories that are compatible with them, like hole punches and reinforcements.

What is this classic school supply?

  • Dust pan
  • Typewriter eraser
  • Record cleaner
  • Belt

The narrow wheel was used to rub out a single line of type and the brush was used to brush away the eraser dust carefully, as not to effect any other lines of type.

What is this classic school supply?

  • Thermometer
  • Ping pong balls
  • Label makers
  • Map pins

It has long been popular to mark where you’ve been in the world on a map, but before you could do so digitally you had to rely on a physical map and map pins to show off your travels.

What is this vintage school supply called?

  • Legos
  • Lincoln logs
  • Pet rocks
  • Counting blocks

These vintage counting blocks were very popular in the ‘50s for children just learning their numbers for the first time. They help children visualize simple equations.

What is this vintage item called?

  • Book holder
  • Paper clips
  • Magnet
  • Pencil holder

These retro paper clips do their job well. They were made out of sturdy metal, but you would have to make sure they did not rust or you wouldn’t be able to undo the clip.

What is this vintage item called?

  • Thermometer
  • Scale
  • Air pressure measurement
  • Beaker

Before digital scales, every science classroom and post office was equipped with a scale that looked like this. It may have been hard to read, but it always did its job.

What are these vintage school supplies called?

  • Staples
  • Paper clips
  • Fasteners
  • Scissors

These metal fasteners are inserted through the holes in loose leaf paper to keep them together, much like a manual staple. You can still find them in most office supply stores.

What is this vintage school supply called?

  • Lined paper
  • Blanket
  • A ruler
  • Patriotic paper

Lined paper is still used today, although handwriting is a less important skill for students to learn. The margins of these sheets of paper were originally meant for footnotes.

What is this school supply?

  • Microscope
  • Tablet
  • Pencil
  • Eraser

Before rubber erasers were popularized in the 1770s, pieces of wax were used to erase charcoal marks from papers. In 1858 the first patent for attaching an eraser to the end of a pencil was filed.

What is this vintage object called?

  • High heels
  • Cowboy boots
  • Saddle shoes
  • Platforms

Saddle shoes were common additions to school uniforms in the ‘40s and ‘50s and they were iconically worn by Elvis Presley in the film “Jailhouse Rock.”

What is this classic office tool?

  • Paper clip holder
  • Phone book
  • Rolodex
  • Stamp organizer

The word Rolodex comes from a combination of the words rolling and index. It was first invented in 1956 as a way to keep business cards or other contact information handy.

What is this school supply called?

  • Binder
  • Legal pad
  • iPad
  • Accordion folder

When there wasn’t any way to organize files digitally, it took a lot of folders to keep your papers in order, like this accordion folder that kept papers in separate sections.

What is this vintage school supply called?

  • Hair clip
  • Chip clip
  • Clipboard
  • Binder

These vintage clipboards are still used at any time when writing on a desk isn’t accessible and anyone who has gone to a school in the last 50 years can probably recognize one.

What is this vintage school supply called?

  • Binder
  • Folder
  • Composition book
  • Cookies and cream

Composition notebooks can be traced back to France and Germany where, in the 1860s, this marbled design was popularized. The style migrated to the United States in the early 20th century.

What is this vintage school supply called?

  • Textbook
  • Day planner
  • Diary
  • Inventory book

Day planners are still handed out to students so they can keep track of their assignments and remember when big projects are due. But, they don’t always stop the urge to procrastinate.

What was this classroom item called?

  • Glove
  • Juicer
  • Globe
  • Roll-up map

Globes were often showcased in classrooms for many subjects like History, because they provided an accurate depiction of where historical events happened.

What are these children’s names?

  • Sam and Sam
  • Joe and Jane
  • Dick and Jane
  • Diane and Kyle

“Dick and Jane” books were used to teach reading in classrooms for nearly four decades before being replaced by other texts and teaching methods in the ‘80s.

What was a common class in most high schools in the ‘50s?

  • Drivers education
  • Computer programming
  • Rocket Science
  • Texting 101

Nowadays, students typically have to learn to drive outside of the classroom, but back in the day they were taught drivers education during the school day.

What was this reference tool called?

  • Card catalogues
  • Phone book
  • Filing cabinet
  • Dewey dock

Card catalogues were found in every library before digital sorting systems. Each book in the library had a corresponding card with its information on it.

What is this school supply called?

  • Spectacles
  • Magnifying glass
  • Peeler
  • Cookie cutter

Magnifying glasses were very useful in classrooms because there were many textbooks on the shelves with very tiny writing that could be more easily read when magnified.

What is this classic school supply?

  • Stapler
  • Tape dispenser
  • Duct tape
  • Paper towel roll

Scotch tape was introduced in 1930 when it wasn’t yet clear as we know it today. During the Great Depression sales of Scotch tape soared because it was a versatile and durable product.

What is this tool called?

  • Hole punch
  • Staple remover
  • Binder clip
  • Paper fastener

Hole punches are handy tools to organize a stack of papers together to be put into a binder later. They are still used today, but the original models were made of heavy nickel-plated metals.

What was this school supply called?

  • Lunch box
  • Pencil case
  • Tool kit
  • Waste bin

Before the ‘50s, most students used paper bags or picnic baskets to hold their lunches, but during this decade lunchboxes first came into popularity.

What was this school supply called?

  • Book belt
  • Book strap
  • Lasso
  • Bowtie

Most kids just used a simple men’s leather belt to hold their school books together because it was simple and easy to carry while walking home.

What is this school supply called?

  • Satchel
  • Backpack
  • Purse
  • Lunchbox

In the ‘50s and ’60s, satchels started to replace the popular book straps because they could hold more items and were easier to carry.

What is this school supply called?

  • Pen holder
  • Pocket cozy
  • Pocket protector
  • Pencil case

Pocket protectors may have become a staple for nerd costumes, but back in the day when it was important to have a nicely pressed shirt, they really came in handy!

What was this blackboard tool called?

  • Chalk
  • Candy sticks
  • Cigarettes
  • Gel pen

When blackboards were used every day by both teachers and students, there was never enough white chalk to go around.

What are these study tools called?

  • Viewfinders
  • Sticky notes
  • Flashcards
  • Contact books

Flashcards were used in the ‘50s to teach children everything from multiplication to spelling. Today, most kids use computer quizzes to learn new subjects.

What is this school supply called?

  • Needle
  • Compass
  • Sewing kit
  • Pencil sharpener

Many schools required compasses to be used in math class so perfect circles could be drawn. This tool is also useful to architects.

What was this classroom staple called?

  • Pull-down map
  • Kindle
  • Dry erase board
  • Conference call

Many classrooms had pull-down maps of the United States and other maps depending on where the class was taking place, like a state map and a city map.

What is this office supply called?

  • Ink pad
  • Tablet
  • Lunch card
  • Rolling pin

When writing letters was still common, many people kept stamps with their addresses on them at home to make sending out letters simpler.

What is this school supply called?

  • Slide ruler
  • Master ruler
  • Measuring tape
  • Placemat

Slide rulers were also helpful tools used during math class because they helped students multiply and divide numbers quickly.

What is this school supply called?

  • Book placeholder
  • Fortune teller
  • Spare ribbon
  • Color swatch

In the past, bookmarks weren’t as common as placeholders because most hard cover books had a simple piece of ribbon already attached to them to keep your place.

What is this school supply called?

  • Flash drive
  • Paper clip
  • PEZ dispenser
  • Color loop

Besides being a handy way to group papers together, kids also had a lot of fun stringing paper clips together to make necklaces and bracelets.

What was a role given to some students?

  • Hall monitor
  • Classroom king
  • Class clown
  • Keeper of the chalk

The hall monitor’s job was to guide the lanes of traffic in busy hallways and this role was typically given to good mannered and outgoing students.

What was this machine called?

  • Digital camera
  • Filmstrip projector
  • iPhone
  • Television

Before the days of digital projectors and even television sets, most classrooms were outfitted with filmstrip projectors to show movies recorded on actual film.

What was a useful tool for writing?

  • Typewriters
  • Tablets
  • Hieroglyphics
  • Laptop

Before every student had a laptop to write with, essays were typically required to be typed on a typewriter. Unfortunately, there wasn’t an easy way to correct mistakes with these machines!

What was this school supply called?

  • Carbon paper
  • Crepe paper
  • Construction paper
  • Copy paper

This school supply is not often used to day, but some students of the ‘50s used carbon paper to forge their grades if they wanted to fool their parents.

What school supply erased your mistakes?

  • White out
  • Rytoff
  • Liquid sugar
  • Write out

Rytoff was an ink erasing liquid that was used to correct written mistakes, but it had to be used quickly before ink dried, making it a difficult product to use.

What was this pen called?

  • Sharpie
  • Palmer pen
  • White-Out
  • Colored pencil

Handwriting was often a subject taught in schools and students were required to use these ink holding Palmer pens to practice their cursive lettering and overall penmanship.

What is this tape called?

  • Cellulose tape
  • Duct tape
  • Scotch tape
  • Packing tape

Cellulose tape was a popular option in the ‘50s because it didn’t leave a sticky residue like other tapes and it was reusable and strong.

What is this device used for?

  • Eye exams
  • Pencil sharpening
  • Laser pointing
  • Correcting tests

Manual pencil sharpeners were located in every classroom, typically right next to the blackboard. These models would hold the pencil shavings inside for easy usage.

What are these objects called?

  • Thumbtacks
  • Pizza trays
  • UFOs
  • Staples

Before the plastic tipped push pins that are used today, there were only simple metal thumbtacks available to use, which were sometimes difficult to grip.

What is this machine called?

  • Slide projector
  • Kinetoscope
  • Camera
  • Coffee maker

Slide projectors were commonplace in classrooms to show slideshows and project notes for the entire classroom to see. Some slide projectors could also project film strips.

What were these things called?

  • Magic markers
  • Dip pens and ink wells
  • Hot glue gun
  • China markers

Before typing became a popular skill, students were taught handwriting in elementary school, often practiced with these dip pens and ink wells.

What was this pencil called?

  • Crayon
  • Grease pencil
  • Ballpoint pen
  • Retractable pen

Grease pencils were an ingenious device because unlike other pencils that required sharpening, you could sharpen a grease pencil by peeling off the paper around the lead.

What is this tool called?

  • Trimming board
  • Protractor
  • Compass
  • Utility knife

Most classrooms had trimming boards around, which made cutting many pieces of paper at once easy. They could also cut through cardboard without effort making them a very useful tool.

What is this school supply called?

  • Tablet
  • Slate
  • Desk
  • Sticky note

Like a portable blackboard, these slates were to be used by each student to work out math problems or write answers upon that could be erased easily.

What is this counting device called?

  • Abacus
  • Telescope
  • Calculator
  • Label maker

An abacus is an ancient device used to assist in doing difficult or simple math problems. But now, most students use calculators starting from an early age.

What was this popular get together?

  • Rave
  • Sock hop
  • Be-in
  • Jump and Jive

A sock hop was an informal dance where students would take off their shoes and dance around to music like Buddy Holly or Elvis Presley in their socks!

What was this popular fashion trend?

  • Poodle skirts
  • Miniskirts
  • Jeggings
  • Hoop skirt

Poodle skirts were knee length skirts with a wide swing and applied designs that were often paired with white bobby socks in the 1950s.

What was the separation of black students and white students called?

  • Separation
  • Segregation
  • Suffrage
  • Apartheid

In the ‘50s it was common for schools to be segregated. But after the civil rights movement of the ‘60s, many schools began desegregation efforts that put an end to these practices.

What did ‘50s students have to practice on a regular basis?

  • Hide and seek
  • Duck and cover drills
  • Earthquake preparedness
  • Duck, duck, goose

During a time when Americans were scared of possible nuclear explosions, duck and cover drills were practiced in schools and were considered as normal as a fire drill.

What was this machine called?

  • Skinner Teaching Machine
  • Accordion
  • Three-ring binder
  • Drawers of Confusion

These machines administered multiple choice questions to teach students many different subjects, but they fell out of fashion later as computers became more commonplace.

What was a common game at recess in the ‘50s?

  • Marbles
  • Super Mario Kart
  • Stick ball
  • Horseshoes

During the early 1900s, marble production boomed and there were many marble producers in the United States. But today there are only two American marble manufacturers still in business.

What was this lunch time staple called?

  • Tin can
  • Freezer
  • Thermos
  • Light in a can

Thermoses and lunch boxes were popularized during the ‘50s, when many mothers stayed at home to prepare their children’s (and husband’s) lunches for the day.

What is this school supply called?

  • Label maker
  • Spirit duplicator
  • Eye exam
  • Taffy puller

Also called a Ditto machine, the Spirit duplicator was invented in 1923 and required ink to create copies, which was usually available in purple colors.

What was this vintage item called?

  • Cozy shawl
  • Sitting-out bags 
  • Jumpsuit
  • Sleeping bag

Sitting-out bags were short-lived school supplies of the early 20th century when students were encouraged to spend more time outdoors to combat diseases like tuberculosis.

What was this vintage item called?

  • Zoom
  • Stereoscope
  • Glasses
  • Stethoscope

Stereoscopes were first used in schools in the early 1900s to showcase photos during lectures. Some of the earliest stereoscopic photos were taken during the Civil War.

What is this school item called?

  • Paddle book
  • Hornbook
  • Picket fence
  • Slide projector

Hornbooks were wooden, stone or leather paddles with important information engraved on them, like the alphabet, numbers or bible verses.

What was this school supply called?

  • Crayon sharpener
  • Grater
  • Roll-top pencil case
  • Polaroid camera

The design of these pencil cases was similar to a roll-top desk and created a case that your pencils could not fall out of.

What is this school supply called?

  • Encyclopedia
  • Dictionary
  • Wikipedia
  • Spelling book

Before every computer had spell-check, spelling books created a system of standardized spelling in the classrooms of the United States.

What was this school supply called?

  • Tofu mold
  • Eraser tin
  • Silly putty case
  • Shoebox

Erasers were a much needed school supply before computers were widely used in classrooms, so they needed a coveted case to keep them safe.

What is this classic classroom tool?

  • Three-ring binder
  • Legal pad
  • Stationery set
  • Bookmark

Three-ring binders are still used by most students today, but they now come in every color imaginable, not just simple black or white.

What is this adhesive called?

  • Highlighter
  • Mucilage glue
  • Duct tape
  • Carmel

Mucilage glue has long been used as an adhesive on envelopes and postage stamps because it is derived from plants and therefore edible.

What is this school supply called?

  • Hair ties
  • Scrunchies
  • Rubber bands
  • Shears

Kids of the ‘50s might remember having endless fun putting all of their rubber bands together to make a rubber band ball, much to the annoyance of their teachers.

What is this school supply called?

  • Phone book
  • Desktop
  • Index tabs
  • Contacts

The way to organize your folders and papers easily was by affixing them with tabs that could show you at a glance exactly what you were looking for.

What is this schoolroom object?

  • Desk
  • Teaching table
  • Bench
  • Bleacher

Student desks were designed by Anna Breadin in the late 1880s. Before this most students just sat on regular chairs or long benches during classes.

What is this school supply?

  • Crayons
  • Ditto pencils
  • Sharpies
  • Abacus

The Ditto company produced many school and office supplies. The copy machines produced by the company produced paper copies that were referred to as “dittos” although the machine itself was called a mimeograph.

What is this school supply?

  • Filing cabinet
  • Pee Chee folders
  • Manila folder
  • Trapper keeper

These folders were first produced in 1943 by the Western Tablet and Stationery Company of Kalamazoo, Michigan and were used by students for storing papers well into the ‘50s. These folders are still available today.

What is this office supply?

  • Paper clip holder
  • Utility knife
  • Stamp
  • Stapler

In 1866, George McGill patented a small, bendable brass paper fastener that was a precursor to the modern staple. The next year he patented a press to insert the fastener into paper.

What is this classic school supply?

  • Mr. Sketch markers
  • Highlighters
  • Sharpies
  • Glue stick

Mr. Sketch markers are scented markers that come in both chisel and fine point variants. They have been popular with young school children since the ‘60s.

What is this classic school supply?

  • Silly putty
  • Paint
  • Rubber cement
  • Duct tape

Rubber cement is an adhesive made out of elastic polymers such as latex and a solvent, like acetone. When it is exposed to the air, the solvent dries, leaving just the adhesive.

What is this classic school supply?

  • Lunch
  • Stapler
  • Primer
  • White paste

Elmer’s started producing glue and other adhesive products in 1947, the same year that they first sold their classic white glue, which was made out of synthetic resin.

Where would you find this slip of paper?

  • A library book
  • On your homework
  • In your textbooks
  • On a computer

These tabs were included in the front of library books to keep track of who borrowed a book and when they should bring them back. Today, this process is taken care of digitally.

What is this school supply?

  • Magic marker
  • Chalk
  • Dry erase marker
  • Crayons

The Crayola company was founded in 1885, but it was not until 1903 that they started to produce crayons as we know them today. Their first line of crayons included 30 different colors.

What is this old writing tool?

  • Laser pointer
  • A quill
  • Hat feather
  • Paper weight

Quills were used long before dip pens or ballpoint pens because they were naturally derived from animal feathers. Goose quills are still used as a calligraphy tool today.

What is this classic school supply?

  • Mechanical pencil
  • Laser pointer
  • Makeup brush
  • Eyeliner

The first of its kind, this mechanical pencil has a mechanism in it that allows the lead of the pencil to be pushed out without the need for sharpening.

What is this classic school supply?

  • Paint brushes
  • Hall pass
  • Comb
  • Broom

In the early 20th century, most paintbrushes were made out of horse hair, but today many paintbrushes that are marketed to children are made of synthetic fibers.

What is this classic school supply?

  • Flashcards
  • Coupons
  • Library card
  • Computer punch cards

These cards could be used for data processing, much like a USB drive is used today. Each card had information that was represented by the holes in each card.

What is this school object?

  • Intercom
  • Facetime
  • Microwave
  • Radio

Most schools are still equipped with intercom systems because they are more simple to use than modern technology and can easily broadcast a message to every room that is equipped with an intercom.

What is this classic school supply?

  • Laffy Taffy
  • Glass tape
  • Reinforcements
  • Peephole protectors

Reinforcements are sticky tabs that go around the holes in paper to ensure that you don’t rip any pages while you’re flipping through your binders.

What is this vintage item called?

  • Matchbook
  • Coupon book
  • Magazines
  • Lighter

The term for the hobby of collecting different match-related items including matchbooks, matchboxes and match covers is “phillumeny.”

What is this vintage office supply called?

  • Sword
  • Fortune teller
  • Ice carver
  • Letter opener

This vintage letter opener from the 1930s is actually many objects in one! This letter opener also has a magnifying glass on the end to help you read your letters once you open them.

What is this vintage object called?

  • Pomade
  • Hairspray
  • Blush
  • Dry shampoo

If you’ve ever wondered how people in the 1950s got their hair to be so shiny, you don’t know about pomade. The greasy substance takes many washes to fully remove, but it will keep every hair in place!

What is this vintage item called?

  • Ice machine
  • Sewing machine
  • Microphone
  • Writing desk

Sewing machines were common items in schools when home economics classes were more commonplace. Students would learn the basics of sewing during these classes.

What is this vintage office supply called?

  • Pencil clip
  • Ice pick
  • Guitar pick
  • Finger clip

This metal device was designed to slide into and hook onto your pocket to keep your pencil safe. Back in the day, you were responsible for making sure you had enough pencils to write with, so they were very valuable!

What is this vintage item called?

  • Hat
  • A kiss
  • Golf ball holder
  • Thimble

Thimbles are a valuable item to have around if you’re sewing by hand because wearing one on your finger will prevent it from being pricked or poked by a sewing needle.

What is this vintage office supply called?

  • Measuring stick
  • A filing cabinet
  • Ping pong table
  • Tablet organizer

Filing cabinets have been less in demand in recent years because of a shift towards paperless operation in many industries.

What is this vintage office supply called?

  • Stapler organizer
  • Pen holder
  • Magnetic desk
  • Laser pointer

Many professionals kept a pen holder on their desk for signing documents in the ‘50s. They were often luxury pieces made of fine materials like marble.

What is this vintage school supply called?

  • Hand washer
  • Taffy puller
  • Stamp moistener
  • Cookie cutter

If you haven’t sent a letter in a few years, you might not be aware of this handy invention. The stamp moistener has saved many tongues from having to lick hundreds of stamps in a day.

What is this vintage office supply called?

  • Radio
  • Bracelet
  • Hair scrunchy
  • Bookends

If you want a nicely organized library, you should invest in some bookends. These common metal ones are typically seen in libraries, but they come in many other styles.

What is this vintage item called?

  • Fashion magazine
  • Mirror
  • Flashcards
  • Sewing pattern

Many sewing experts used patterns like these, which were available for purchase, to create their own clothes out of whatever fabrics they chose.

What is this vintage item called?

  • Stamp stand
  • Kitchen organizer
  • Rolodex
  • Pencil holder

In order to not leave your used and dirty stamps laying on the table, this handy stamp stand was invented so no one would ever get ink on their writing desk again!

What is this vintage item called?

  • Horoscope
  • Fortune teller
  • iPod
  • Calendar

Classic paper calendars like this are still available, but who needs to invest in a simple calendar when all phones and computers already come equipped with one?

What is this vintage office supply called?

  • Stamp dispenser
  • Flash card holder
  • Tea desk
  • Scrapbook organizer

Back in the day when sending letters was much more commonplace, many businesses had stamp dispensers like this to make sending letters in bulk easier to manage.

What is this vintage school supply called?

  • Knapsack
  • Lunchbox
  • Math box
  • First aid kit

Every classroom and school bus is equipped with a first aid kit in case of an emergency, and most of them contain alcohol swabs, bandages and some medicines like aspirin.

What is this vintage office supply called?

  • Rotary phone
  • iPhone
  • Android
  • Blackberry

Many children today don’t know how to use a rotary phone, so they’ll never know how it feels to call someone with many zeroes in their phone number.

What is this vintage school supply called?

  • Tin toy
  • Elevator buttons
  • Adding machine
  • Vintage receipts

This tool was helpful for anyone whose job required them to do many mathematic equations before computers were around, like cashiers or accountants.
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