Special Collections and University Archives, W.E.B. Du Bois Library, University of Massachusetts Amherst
North Center School District Records
Incorporated in 1670, the town of Hatfield, Massachusetts was originally that part of Hadley west of the Connecticut River, settled by people from Hartford, Wethersford, and Windsor, Connecticut.
Hatfield, whose motto is "Industry & Prosperity," was an unusually prosperous community, thanks to the richness of the Connecticut River Valley and its ability to support agriculture and livestock. While the insularity of the community may have contributed to its prosperity as well, farmers were quick to capitalize on new industries, and around 1816, Hatfield began manufacturing brooms based on a technique developed in Hadley. As the demand for this product decreased, Hatfield turned to tobacco growing.
Education was important to the people of Hatfield. Encouraged by the Dickinson family, Hatfield opened schools for girls in 1796. Young boys attended these "dame schools" as well (although not at the same time). Since the first "examination" of teachers didn't occur until 1826, many of these early schools were "kept" by non-professionals.
The North Center School District was established in 1812, when Hatfield divided into three school districts. The original schoolhouse was located on what was known as the J. D. Brown lot.