Colorado Fuel and Iron, a steel corporation located at Pueblo, CO dominated coal mining and steel production in southern Colorado during the late 1800s and early 1900s. The company owned mining properties throughout Colorado, Wyoming, and New Mexico. The company began supporting free kindergartens for its employees as early as 1892. The early kindergartens were financially supported by the miners, though when they fell short the company stepped in with supplies and money. The kindergartens, according to head of the Sociological Department Dr. Richard Corwin, helped establish the foundation of CF&I's Sociological Department.

CreationCF&I opened the Sociological Department on July 25, 1901 in order to help their employees achieve social betterment as detemined by the leaders of CF&I. The social betterment programs worked under the assumption that CF&I wage workers were socially inferior and needed education in areas such as domestic skills for example cooking, sewing, etc. Officials also believed their workers needed instruction in basic hygiene. The social betterment program brought libraries, art collections, and entertainment to the mining camps. All in an effort to educate the miners and their families in a better way of life. The created entertainment centers, boys and girls clubs, and schools in each of the mining camps owned by CF&I. The kindergartens remained a vital part of the Sociological Department. A great deal of time and money was spent on the kindergartens.
In order to establish schools, CF&I created company schools in isolated areas and heavily involved itself in the established public school system. CF&I donated land, constructed the school buildings, provided supplies, and paid teachers' salaries when the district could not. The company was also one of the largest tax payers in the state. Given these financial contributions, CF&I was able to control the policy of both public schools along with the CF&I operated school.
CF&I Teachers with first Superintendent of CF&I Schools Miss Grabill

PurposeThe better way of life taught by the Sociological Department represented the way CF&I believed Americans should live. The department represented a form of social control over the mining population. By determining what the correct behavior for the miners and their families were the company controlled the private sphere of the home. Through the kindergartens CF&I created the social expectations of the next generation. Students were taught basic skills such as weaving, sewing, modeling, drawing, nature studies, and even gardening. They recieved instructions on proper etiquette for Christmas and the proper observance of the holiday. Certain kindergartens emphasized partiotical themes and celebrated July 4th with partical zeal.

AgendaThe cultural training CF&I taught to its workers developed for several reason. The two most important deal with a diverse population and controlling that population. The kindergartens helped in this dual agenda. The kindergartens provided the children with basic working skills at the same time the children were enculturated with American society and belief systems. The kindergartens also taught the children basic english skills. Most of the families working at the CF&I mines were immigrant families. The Americanization of the children placed them more under the control of CF&I than under their parents. CF&I taught the children what was proper and considered their education a primary objective. According to CF&I's leading company circular Camp and Plant the kindergartens took the children and set them on the correct path before they develp "ugly habits and a cramped character." A job most people today believe is the job of the parents.....not a company such as CF&I.

LeadershipDr. Richard Corwin was hired by the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company in 1881 to establish a medical department to serve Pueblo and other mining camps. Corwin dedicated himself to the total care of his patients. He was later put in charge of a social betterment program which he sponsored free Kindergartens to help non-English speaking children from immigrant families adjust to a new culture in America. Dr. Corwin helped develop the Sociological Department at CF&I. He shaped the many programs with the clear intent to better the workers of CF&I. Dr. Corwin's involvement in the social betterment program is not supriseing. Not only did he supervise the medical department Corwin was one of the leading eugenics advocates in Colorado in the early 1900s. Eugenics is a negatively viewed way of making a better human race through birth control. Eugenis advocates wanted sterilization laws in order to control the population allowed to have children, the effect of which would allow only the best families to reproduce. The social betterment program mirrors the philosophy of eugenics. In order to make a better group of people Corwin created programs to teach them how to achieve social acceptance. The problem with social betterment and eugenics is who determines who is socially better? What does the perfect human culture look like? Who determines what the perfect human culture looks like?


Schools in the Mining Town
El Moro

Kindergarten Education

Christmas at CF&I Kindergartens

Kindergarten Curriculum

All pictures retrieved from Camp and Plant at Bessemer Historical Society

All pictures and information used with permission of Bessemer Historical Society, 215 Canal Street Pueblo, CO 81004.
Bessemer Historical Society