top of page

United States Indian Industrial School

Carlisle, Pennsylvania



Internet archive has the 1912 United States Indian Industrial School catalog as well as photo albums for the school.  Cumberland County Historical Society and Carlisle Indian School biographer, Barbara Landis has posted several online resources for the school.


Carlisle was the first government school for Native Americans. The goal of the United States Indian Industrial School was to educate and train young Indian children so that they could "take upon themselves the duties of citizenship."  Captain Richard Henry Pratt, the first superintendent, believed that Indian children who were taken from their tribes and mainstreamed into Euro-American culture could be made into productive citizens.  In the fall of 1879, 82 Sioux children were brought to Carlisle Barracks and forcibly taught white culture through a military regimen.  Ultimately enrollment averaged 1,000 students each year, with 77 tribes being represented.


Youth between the ages of 14 and 21, of good character and sound health, who were at least 1/4th Indian were eligible for admission.  Pupils spent one half of each day in academic classes and one half in industrial training.  Fields of training included agriculture, business, telegraphy, blacksmithing, printing, carpentry, plumbing, tailoring, and wheelwrighting for boys.  Girls were trained in cooking, nursing, sewing and laundry. 


During one year of their schooling, pupils were "outed."  They spent the year as a member of a white family, attending a local school and working at their trade.


Carlisle educated students from grade one through grade 12.  Supporting academic work were the Susan Longstreth Literary Society (for girls) and Standard Literary Society and Invincible Debating Society (for boys).  Carlisle had a school band, a school choir, a mandolin society, a student newspaper, a monthly student magazine, a Y.M.C.A. and a Y.W.C.A.


Carlisle School had a close working relationship with neighboring Dickinson College.  Dickinson students and faculty assisted with academic classes at Carlisle; Carlisle students who wished to enroll in college classes, went over to Dickinson.   


Enrollment at Carlisle began to fall.  In 1914 the school determined to de-emphasize sports.  American involvement in World War I led to the loss of many male students to the draft. In 1918 the U.S. Army closed the school, converting the barracks to a rehabilitation hospital for returning servicemen.

Bricks and Mortar

Carlisle had been the site of a military barracks since 1755.  Renovated in 1832, they were burned by Confederate troops prior to the Battle of Gettysburg.  After being rebuilt in 1866, they served as a training post for U.S. Cavalry until 1872.  The barracks were then turned over to the Department of the Interior as a site for the Indian school.


The 1912 catalog claims 50 buildings on 311 acres of land.  285 acres were taken by two farms, used by students for training in agriculture. Many barracks buildings were renovated by students in the carpentry program.  Out of them came three dormitories--one for girls--and living quarters for teachers, The old stables became the shop complex.


New buildings included the gymnasium--now Thorpe Hall--the hospital, Leupp Art Studeo, and the Administration Building.


Indian Field, provided grounds for baseball, football, lacrosse, and track. 


Today, Carlisle still retains 23 buildings, all on the National Register.


       Team name:  Teams were invariable

                                called Indians

       School colors: Red, White and Gold


The two names most associated with sports at Carlisle are Glenn "Pop" Warner and Jim Thorpe.  Warner, the athletic director, coached football at Carlisle 1898-1903 and 1907-14.  His teams compiled a 114-42-8 overall record.  Four teams (1907, 1911, 1912, and 1913) lost only a single game each, and three more lost only two games.  Thorpe played on the 1911 and 1912 teams.  A running back and kicker, he scored 25 touchdowns in 1912.  He is perhaps most remembered as a track standout, who went on to win the decathlon in the 1912 Stockholm Olympics.  He later played professionally in both football and baseball. 


Carlisle's football schedule included the major powers of the day--most games played on the road.  The Indians  played Pennsylvania 21 times, Harvard 14 times, Syracuse and Brown 9 times each, Virginia seven times, Penn State and Princeton six times each and Yale five times.  

The 1911 Carlisle football team compiled an 11-1-1 record.  Glen "Pop" Warner is in the top row.  Jim Thorpe is third from the right in the middle row. Image from Cumberland County Historical Society via Wikipedia Commons (  accessed 2-07-2017

Note: Images are used in accordance with their “terms of use” as I understand those terms.  Recopying or republishing these images may be restricted or forbidden.

bottom of page