The earliest mention of the school paddle in the USA

The paddle seems to be very much the preferred implement in USA schools. When did it first come into widespread use? I am particularly interested in early mentions of the school paddle in dated factual or fictional literature, and in official documents.

Have other cultures used the paddle in schools?


When the paddle was first employed as an instrument of correction is a question that interests me but I cannot be of direct help. Its root in slavery is one possible reason it was instrument of choice. The ideal slave was a subservient one and on auction day the sight of welts was a dead give away that they were auctioning damaged goods. Paddle marks were easier to hide and would dissipate by auction time. Erotic literature had the paddle used on black woman and it was used on children because it was consider less vicious. A case can be made that there was a carry over to children taught in a classroom.

Page three of a previous post is well worth re-reading. by male slave holders. In Catholic schools classroom yardsticks were used while a strap was used in the nearby public school. Principals were mostly men and it was an extension of a belt IMO. No proof again but a reasonable surmise. The cane seemed a carry over from the British Isles in the principals office of the Irish order of sisters and there were dowels like canes.

The switch and the hickory stick were used in rural communities. The stick was more often used in the classroom.


Chicago Psychiatrist Asserts the 19th Year Is Crucial Age Among Juveniles

CHICAGO, Nov. 16 , 1935 (AP). — Old fashioned wooden paddles lustily applied to 19-year-old boys would reduce juvenile crimes, Dr. Harry R. Hoffman, director of the Cook County Behavior Clinic, said today.

It is unclear from this short excerpt whether all 19 year olds should be paddled or only the naughty ones. Nor is it clear how many such paddlings are required. There is no mention of girls.


I apologize for posting under the wrong thread twice in a row. I’m having a hard day, having just posted the knout and bastinado under the wrong thread. What did I do? I searched instrument of correction and responded to my previous misplaced postings.

Spanking in other languages was the question. Remember the used Romance Languages (FRIPS). French, Romanian, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish. I’m told that the Romanians, often the gypsies, moved about the Roman Empire so speak the closest to Latin. Can anyone affirm or debunk this? Is it apocryphal? It’s off topic but how many times have I been taking to task for that? So be it.

Instruments of correction like martinet and ferule are named and used in the European continent.


WHIPPING IN THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS (21 year old girl beaten with hickory rod – editorial)

For a half century or more the courts and law books have been saying in a routine way that a school-teacher has the right by law to inflict moderate chastisement upon disobedient or disorderly pupils. Some of them have.

Teachers in many countries seem to have had a propensity towards severe corporal punishment. They seemed to have had a largely free hand until education first started to become compulsory towards the end of the 19th century and parents started to object to excesses. The paddle may have replaced the switch because it is less likely to leave marks.



Complaints against teachers of the public schools for undue, and in some instances unmerciful, punishment of boys have of late been common in both Queens and Suffolk Counties. At the Jerusalem (Town of Hempstead) School there was considerable excitement …



Except: Arbor Day had been better observed than was expected. In the vote on a [New York] State tree the sugar maple received 43 per cent of the votes of the children, the oak 24 per cent and the elm 16 per cent. The birch, hickory and willow, he observed, with surprise, were unpopular and the rattan got no votes at all.   


DEBATE ON CORPORAL PUNISHMENT; New-Jersey House Says Newark Teachers Shall Not Use the Rattan

TRENTON, N.J., March 19. — Two hours of the time of the House to-night was devoted to a warm debate on corporal punishment in schools. The debate was precipitated by a Newark bill. Assemblyman Eisele of Orange was the spokesman for the bill. He had much …  

Rattan is mention in the headline only. The debate seemed to have been about the requirement for parental approval rather than implements.


I just have a gut feeling paddling as the majority option is going to date to post WWII.

There’s very little mention of anything pre-War other than whipping(which I take to be the fabled hickory stick, which I seem to remember from Mark Twain. I also remember Harry Morgan as Col Sherman Potter in MASH(TV series) mentioning the woodshed & whippings & that was set in the early 1950’s.