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Thread: HM, HoH, Transfig in the 50s/60s at Hogwarts

  1. #1
    Seventh Year Gryffindor
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    HM, HoH, Transfig in the 50s/60s at Hogwarts

    In this thread there will be some information from Pottermore, so if you still want to discover that for yourself, please don't read on!

    I'm writing a story about Molly Prewett in her sixth year at Hogwarts (that would be 1966/67 unless I'm much mistaken). As she's in Gryffindor, and in trouble, I need to figure some things out.

    - Who was the Headmaster?
    - Who was the HoH?

    -- I'm guessing that those were Dumbledore and McGonagall, and I think that's a pretty sound theory. But I need to figure out for how long they've been in these positions. And that's where it gets a bit trickier :/

    The excellent hestiajones and I have been using all the deductive skills available to us at this hour, but we've hit a bit of a dead end.

    This is the information available:

    In OotP, Chapter 15: The Hogwarts High Inquisitor, we find this piece of dialogue:
    Quote Originally Posted by OotP
    “How long have you been teaching at Hogwarts?” Professor Umbridge asked.

    “Thirty-nine years this December,” said Professor McGonagall brusquely, snapping her bag shut.
    This means that she has been teaching at the school since 1956.

    There are some bits of information on Pottermore that are relevant for this (i.e. here start the spoilers):

    Quote Originally Posted by Pottermore, emphasis added
    Upon graduation from Hogwarts, Minerva returned to the manse to enjoy one last summer with her family before setting out for London, where she had been offered a position at the Ministry of Magic (Department of Magical Law Enforcement). These months were to prove some of the most difficult of Minerva’s life, for it was then, aged only eighteen, that she proved herself truly her mother’s daughter, by falling head-over-heels in love with a Muggle boy.
    So, when she starts at the Ministry, she is 18. Then, this:

    Quote Originally Posted by Pottermore, emphasis added
    Finally, after two years at the Ministry, she was offered a prestigious promotion, yet found herself turning it down. She sent an owl to Hogwarts, asking whether she might be considered for a teaching post. The owl returned within hours, offering her a job in the Transfiguration department, under Head of Department, Albus Dumbledore.

    What exactly does "A job in the Transfiguration department" mean? Is that a teaching position? If DD is "Head of Department", does that mean he's still the Transfiguration teacher at that point? It hardly makes sense to me that he would be Head of the Transfiguration department if he isn't even a Transfiguration teacher. But if he is the teacher, then what is McGonagall, at age twenty?

    I somehow find it hard to believe that, no matter how gifted she is, she would be the sole teacher when she's barely older than some of her students.

    Pottermore doesn't give a lot of info, apart from this:
    Quote Originally Posted by Pottermore
    The school greeted Minerva McGonagall’s return with delight. Minerva threw herself into her work, proving herself a strict but inspirational teacher. [...] Nevertheless, it was a shock to learn from the oblivious Isobel (in the middle of a chatty letter of local news) that Dougal had married the daughter of another farmer.

    Albus Dumbledore discovered Minerva in tears in her classroom late that evening, and she confessed the whole story to him.
    We don't really learn how much time has passed between her starting at Hogwarts, and that letter that tells her of the marriage. She left Dougal when she went to the Ministry, and it's feasible that he marries another girl two years later - but it could just as well have been three or four years.

    All we know is that at that point, she has "her classroom", which implies an independent teaching position.

    No matter whether she's teaching on her own or not, though, she's teaching. And since Umbridge specifically asks about that, we have to apply the thirty-nine years to that date... right?

    So... In 1956, at age 20, Minerva McGonagall returns to Hogwarts to teach. Who is the Headmaster then? Does she teach on her own, or is she more of a substitute teacher/someone who gives the weaker students extra lessons? Transfigurations is a tough subject after all, and Dumbledore is an important wizard who might get called away from the school occasionally, making room for an assistant or substitute teacher. And that way she could have gained some experience before starting to teach on her own.

    But when would she have taken over? I'm assuming that she started teaching Transfiguration when Dumbledore became Headmaster. Do you think that was in 1956, as soon as she was hired?

    And also - when did she become the Head of House? Obviously, when Dumbledore became Headmaster, someone else had to be Head of House. But they can't make a 20 year old who is new to the school a figure of such authority, can they? I know she was always stern, and I assume that's a way to gain more authority when she was closer in age to the students than the rest of the staff.

    But is it likely that there was another Gryffindor teacher who was HoH for a while, and retired in the early 60s, or something - so that McGonagall was around 25 to 27 when she started as Head of House?

    Directly applied to my story - will someone else have been Molly's Head of House before her sixth year, say in her first and second year, and does she realise that McGonagall is relatively new to the job, maybe comparing the two HoHs in her mind?

    EDIT: Oh, and I realise how young Snape was when he started teaching, and I'd ask the same questions if I was setting my story twenty years later. The Head of House thing is what I'm most concerned about.

    The timeline just baffles me a bit, and I'm hoping to get some input from you!
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  2. #2
    Wow, that's a lot of information, and I'm not sure what answers I can give you, but here's some thoughts:

    By 1966/7, Molly's sixth year, McGonagall would be 30. That's not super young to be a HoH in my mind.

    The statement, "position in the transfiguration department" suggests a secondary teaching/tutoring job to me. Considering how large Hogwarts is, it's possible that classes were much larger in the past - even in Molly and Arthur's student days - then Trio era, so there were more teachers.

    If you believe there were more teachers then the one teacher per subject that existed in Trio era, then it seems fairly likely that someone else was HoH before McGonagall during Molly's school days. With more than one teacher per subject, it seems very unlikely that there were no other Gryffindor teachers.

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