Are you smarter than an Albany 8th grader (circa 1882)?

1882 8th grade quiz

Albany public school quizzes from 1882

A recent trip to the Albany County Hall of Records netted us this interesting score: a book filled with public school exam questions from 1882 through the early 1900s.

We got a real kick out of these, so we picked out a handful from the 8th grade and put together a little quiz...

You're going to have to assume that the 8th grader in question actually knows the answers to these questions since the book didn't provide the answer key.

If you'd like to venture a guess about the answers, post them in the comments...

+ What is the width of a torrid zone in degrees?

+ What is the width of a torrid zone in common miles?

+ Trace the route of a vessel laden with copper from the Pacific Coast of S.A. to N.Y., naming the port where it would start.

+ If 2 quarts of wine cost $1.55, what is a gallon? (Kids clearly had a lot more fun back then.)

+ A house worth $8000 rents for $720 a year. What percent of its value does it rent for?

+ Write an exercise of 15 lines on the pass time of bobsledding.

+ Narrate the occurrences at Schenectady during the attacks of the French and Indians on the colonists during King William's War.

+ Name and locate the islands where we obtain early vegetables.

+ Spelling words included: liniment, mucilage, benzine

+ Whence probably came the inhabitants of the Western Continent?

+ For what is Quebec remarkable?

+ And our favorite question, which requires an image:
opium question

Yep, an opium question. Bonus points for the person who can tell us what those symbols actually stand for.

Thanks to Craig Carlson from the Albany County Hall of Records.


All I could get, without looking them up, was the question on wine (A: $3.10) and the question on percent of value on the house rental (A. 9%).

The torrid zone, the distance between the Tropics of Cancer and of Capricorn, is approximately 46 degrees, with the Equator bisecting it.

The Chilean port of San Antonio would most likely be the departure point for ships carrying copper.

A gallon of wine should cost $3.10 if four quarts make a gallon.

The house should rent at 9% of its value.

Quebec is remarkable for vast farmlands, timber, hydro-electric plants, hockey players, and a national menu of the four basic food groups - pizza, Pepsi, poulet et poutine.

For what is Quebec remarkable?

That one's easy. Poutine. :-)

Torrid zone has to be 23 times 2, so 46 degrees. How many miles are in a degree? Damned if I can remember. Common miles, not nautical miles.

The mention of the "pass time" of bobsledding coincides with a huge craze for bobsledding in Albany at about that time; Madison Avenue (which may then still have been Lydius Street) was a major bobsledding hill. People died. It was way cool.

We don't spell benzene that way anymore, and mucilage is a fond memory of my youth.

When I went to school, my third-grade class put on a play of the Schenectady Massacre that would have put these eighth-graders to shame! (I was Adam Vrooman.)

Quebec, by the way, is remarkable for the epic battle of the Plains of Abraham, where Wolfe met Montcalm. And nothing else.

Ounce, dram and scruple are the symbols (in that order) typically used by apothecaries.

Oh I totally knew all that stuff.

As a pharmacy student I can tell you we still learn some of those symbols (and what a grain is; 65 milligrams).

The first one (the three with two tops) means ounce, the second one (the 3 shape) we learned as teaspoon, and the third one (the backwards C) we didn't learn at all but the wiki on "apothecaries' system" tells me it's a scruple.

In terms of the problem at hand, my math leads me to believe that poor druggist "put up" 1,813 pills that day!!

These days they give us a two hour lab period to make 10 pills... makes me wonder how much quality control was implemented back then :)

(oh and one 2 grain opium pill is over 5 times the current recommended daily dosing for an adult)

@emily - that is really cool info on the pharmacy background... actually this whole comments section made me a bit smarter today! :)

While we're on the subject, Albany College of Pharmacy operates a pharmacy museum on campus and I have no idea how one schedules a tour (I'm sure it's free) but they've got some neat-o things in there like Kickapoo cough syrup, show globes, fancy labels and signs. Yes, that's a lion with a mustache using a mortar and pestle.

Whence people came to the continent was between 20,000 and 15,000 years ago.

Hi: I want a like button, like FB, cause I totally like this one, and while your at it why not put on a dislike button, unlike FB, that would be cool and so cutting edge.

Time for some nit-picking. Question #6 asks: What islands near Florida? Or does it say What islands mear Florida? Maybe "mear" is some sort of Dutch word that was phased out when the Mick's and Guido's showed up. (And please don't get mad at my terminology, I'm of Irish descent and one of my friends is Italian, so it's okay.)

Could this be a typo? Or was it acceptable grammar at the time to use near as a verb? Like if I asked you "What city nears Albany?".

End rant. I need some poutine.

Answer to all of the above questions is 'let me Google it'.

Also, 8th grade in 1882 was like the equivalent of grad school for the average person - no fair ;)

Looking for the political questions:

1. Given the prosperity of New York State, explain why taxes should be raised enough to impoverish the population.

2. Provide a comparison between a democratic form of government, and the "three men in a room" method of governing a state.

3. What do a prostitute, three governors in one term, and free baseball tickets all have in common?

This is fun. The photo makes me wonder, what are the two mineral productions in which Great Britain excelled? I might even look it up.

I'm guessing they had a lot of 13 year-olds piloting cargo ships in 1882.

Question No. 6 is obviously a typo. And yet -- guess what? -- the word "near" is actually a verb.


–verb (used with object), verb (used without object)
to come or draw near; approach: The boat neared the dock. Storm clouds neared.

Plus: I believe Quebec is remarkable for being the only walled city in North America. (Or maybe in the U.S. and Canada.)

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