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The Home Library in 1836–what did it include?


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Okay, as I'm reading through the original Mott Media McGuffey's Readers, I'm wanting to view these in context of what else children were reading and listening to. What books were in the homes in the 1830's and 1840's when children were reading the original McGuffey's in school?

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A relative has a volume of Shakespeare and a family Bible from that period that belonged to relatives in that side of the family.  From what she was told, those were indeed the only books they owned.

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I wonder how common owning Foxe would have been three centuries after its publication. I don't know how well it lasted.

Hmmm...I wish I knew. I know that almost all Mennonite and Amish families own a copy, even if they have little else. I think that might has skewed my ability to think accurately of it's widespread appeal.

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We're they still enamoured with the classics then? We're reading through Abigail Adam's bio and it lists Shakespeare, Milton, Pope, James Thompson,Dryden, Samuel Richardson, James Fordyce and Charles Rollins (she used his Ancient History book to homeschool JQA) as authors/poets she's read. Oh and there's the lady who wrote plays that weren't performed but were popular to read....can't recall her name. **eta: Mercy Otis Warren** Greek and Roman classics were so en vogue that Abigail and her friends adopted goddess pen names. I recall from reading Washington's bio last summer that Plutarch was influential. Now, I know I'm talking about an era 70 years before the period you're asking about but books seemed a luxury then. Abigail's dad, a parson, seemed to be the big source for books in her town. People were always stopping by to borrow a book. While, they were well read, they didn't necessarily own a lot of books. So the average home probably had a bible, the family one, kwim?

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Interesting topic. Although for me personally, I have a hard time imagining many families owning anything other than a Bible and maybe a book of hymns. That's all my family had, some had none.

I'm having a hard time figuring out which income levels portrayed in the books were the most common. Some of the children obviously have lots of books and were taken to toy stores.

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I'm having a hard time figuring out which income levels portrayed in the books were the most common. Some of the children obviously have lots of books and were taken to toy stores.

 

OK.. Forgive me.  I just realized that you probably meant in the US.  My family wasnt here then.  lol.

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We're they still enamoured with the classics then? We're reading through Abigail Adam's bio and it lists Shakespeare, Milton, Pope, James Thompson,Dryden, Samuel Richardson, James Fordyce and Charles Rollins (she used his Ancient History book to homeschool JQA) as authors/poets she's read. Oh and there's the lady who wrote plays that weren't performed but were popular to read....can't recall her name. **eta: Mercy Otis Warren** Greek and Roman classics were so en vogue that Abigail and her friends adopted goddess pen names. I recall from reading Washington's bio last summer that Plutarch was influential. Now, I know I'm talking about an era 70 years before the period you're asking about but books seemed a luxury then. Abigail's dad, a parson, seemed to be the big source for books in her town. People were always stopping by to borrow a book. While, they were well read, they didn't necessarily own a lot of books. So the average home probably had a bible, the family one, kwim?

I am not at all familiar with some of the authors in this list. I do know Dryden. He was a favorite of my younger son. My son also was quite a fan of Plutarch. I can't remember if the Plutarch version was by Dryden, but I do remember specifically the Aeneid by Dryden.

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I'm having a hard time figuring out which income levels portrayed in the books were the most common. Some of the children obviously have lots of books and were taken to toy stores.

 

LOL. Not my side of the family. They were farmers and ranchers, and eventually ended up homesteading. They were pretty much dirt poor, although very literate for the period from what I've been told.  Most of the toys were homemade. They borrowed books where they could.

 

My grandmother was the only woman in town with a college education for quite a while. She also talked of having one "store bought" doll that they had ordered by mail when she was 8.  This would be in the early 1900's, so a bit later.

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I'm trying to think of what was written then and popular.  Jane Austen would have been around by 1836, I think.   I have heard of kids reading and enjoying Robinson Crusoe.   Ivanhoe, I think.   Dh says the Waverly novels.    Shakespeare, of course. 

 

Pilgrim's Progress would have still been just about everywhere.   Thomas Paine's Common Sense had sold hundreds of thousands of copies, so it would probably have still been around fairly commonly.    

 

I found this, though it's mostly pictures:   http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/17/vintage-childrens-books_n_4459860.html

 

Googling "what did people read in the 1800s" yielded me this from Yahoo:   Translations of the classics, such as The Odyssey, and also Renaissance literature like Shakespeare, Spenser, Milton etc. But people also read novels and poetry that were contemporary to their time - otherwise those books wouldn't have been written and made popular. So, someone in Austen's day might have read Wordsworth, Coleridge, Byron, Daniel Defoe, Alexander Pope, Samuel Johnson etc, and someone in the Brontes' day might have read other Victorian writers like Dickens, Eliot and so on.

Since Jane Austen satirised the Gothic novel in Northanger Abbey, I think we can assume she must have read some examples of the Gothic genre that were available at the time, like 'The Monk' by Lewis, The Castle Of Otranto by Walpole and The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe - whether or not she enjoyed them is another matter! But they were very popular during her lifetime.

 

This page has some interesting info:  https://learn.maricopa.edu/courses/826470/pages/history-of-childrens-literature-early-1800s-to-twentieth-century

 

 

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Interesting question. Is there a particular reason why you chose those dates? Just because of the McGuffey? 

 

Here is a list from Good Reads. https://www.goodreads.com/shelf/show/1800s

 

Yes. I want to understand better what McGuffey was preparing these children to read, and what he was assuming was in their homes, and what maybe they could borrow.

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Also, I think the original McGuffey was published right smack in the middle of quite a revolution in literature. The revised series by McGuffey's brother is quite different. I'm trying to learn about what was changing in the greater world of literature that must have instigated such a profound revision.

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A lot of people subscribed to family magazines containing serialized stories along with various information and miscellany.

 

Great Expectations was a serial right? And authors were paid by the word? Leading to the popularity of long stories?

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Also, I think the original McGuffey was published right smack in the middle of quite a revolution in literature. The revised series by McGuffey's brother is quite different. I'm trying to learn about what was changing in the greater world of literature that must have instigated such a profound revision.

Society was changing. The 2nd Great Awakening peaked about the time of the original McGuffey rdrs.

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Society was changing. The 2nd Great Awakening peaked about the time of the original McGuffey rdrs.

 

When did the laws change about mandatory catechizing of children? McGuffey does not include a catechism like the one in the New England Primer.

 

Suddenly a bunch of things that were not all the interesting to me, are now fascinating in context of how they affected the writing of the original McGuffey's

 

The average home didn't have an atlas, did it? I don't think a geography with maps was part of the standard curriculum, yet?

 

Here is an 1843 geography catechism

https://books.google.com/books?id=YWMDAAAAQAAJ&dq=geography+catechism&source=gbs_navlinks_s

 

1860

https://archive.org/details/catechismofgeogr00mont

 

1881

https://books.google.com/books?id=MGQDAAAAQAAJ&dq=geography+catechism&source=gbs_navlinks_s

 

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My European ancestors were on the American frontier in this era. The average family had a Bible. Periodicals were brought back from the city and circulated amongst the community. Those that could read read to those that hadnt yet learned. No standard curriculum and no standard school terms.

 

You might look at historical figures such as A. Lincoln that were children in this era. Their childhood recollections have been documented.

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I wonder how common owning Foxe would have been three centuries after its publication.  I don't know how well it lasted.

 

My grandparents had a copy and my parents did. It was seen as "one of the parts of a good library" at least there.  Though that only takes you back to the 1930s or so.

 

According to the wikipedia, there were two notable editions of Foxe's Book of Matyrs published in the mid 1800s -- so it at least was still in print at the time.

 

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The cities and the frontiers were very different places, right? By the 1830's there was a thriving middle class in the USA cities that shopped at book stores and toy stores? By the 1830's it wasn't just a small importation of British products for a small subclass wealthy?

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I'm having a horrible time finding information on American families that were NOT living on the frontier? The MAJORITY of Americans did NOT live on the frontier, right? But that is all that most history textbooks mention, is the MINORITY on the frontiers?

 

I found this, but it's not much.

http://www.countriesquest.com/north_america/usa/people/family_life/19th-century_families.htm

 

I can find lots about England daily life. It seems they had a depression right around the publication of McGuffey, but soon after there is much discussion of middle class. Without a fascinating frontier to eat up textbook space, accounts are about the majority. I'm not sure American cities followed the trends of England, though, and I don't think we had a depression at the same time.

 

A little more

http://classroom.synonym.com/differences-between-wealthy-middle-class-poor-industrial-revolution-17180.html

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… What books were in the homes in the 1830's and 1840's when children were reading the original McGuffey's in school?

 

 

I wonder how common owning Foxe would have been three centuries after its publication.  I don't know how well it lasted.

This is still considered a must-read for many Christians.

 

… Strong's Concordance

Strong's wasn't published until 1890, so later than your target era.

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I'm guessing except for the very wealthy, not much more than a bible. 

 

See..., I'm thinking this just might not be true. Even in Colonial America, people were borrowing books. What did another 100 years bring?

 

 

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benjamin_Franklin#Junto_and_library

Junto and library

In 1727, Benjamin Franklin, then 21, created the Junto, a group of "like minded aspiring artisans and tradesmen who hoped to improve themselves while they improved their community." The Junto was a discussion group for issues of the day; it subsequently gave rise to many organizations in Philadelphia.

Reading was a great pastime of the Junto, but books were rare and expensive. The members created a library, initially assembled from their own books. This did not suffice, however. Franklin conceived the idea of a subscription library, which would pool the funds of the members to buy books for all to read. This was the birth of the Library Company of Philadelphia: its charter was composed by Franklin in 1731. In 1732, Franklin hired the first American librarian, Louis Timothee.

Originally, the books were kept in the homes of the first librarians, but in 1739 the collection was moved to the second floor of the State House of Pennsylvania, now known as Independence Hall. In 1791, a new building was built specifically for the library. The Library Company is now a great scholarly and research library with 500,000 rare books, pamphlets, and broadsides, more than 160,000 manuscripts, and 75,000 graphic items.

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Public Libraries. There were private libraries before that, though.

 

Boston

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boston_Public_Library

In 1839, Alexandre Vattemare, a Frenchman, suggested that all of Boston's libraries combine themselves into one institution for the benefit of the public.[12] The idea was presented to many Boston libraries, however, most were uninterested in the idea. At Vattemare's urging, Paris sent gifts of books in 1843 and 1847 to assist in establishing a unified public library. Vattemare made yet another gift of books in 1849.

 

To house the collection, a former schoolhouse located on Mason Street was selected as the library's first home. On March 20, 1854, the Reading Room of the Boston Public Library officially opened to the public. The circulation department opened on May 2, 1854.

 

New York

http://www.nypl.org/help/about-nypl/history

 

 Samuel J. Tilden (1814-1886), who upon his death bequeathed the bulk of his fortune — about $2.4 million — to "establish and maintain a free library and reading room in the city of New York."

 

At the time of Tilden's death, New York already had two libraries of considerable importance — the Astor and Lenox libraries — but neither could be termed a truly public institution in the sense that Tilden seems to have envisioned.

 

Philadelpia

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Library_Company_of_Philadelphia

19th century[edit]

The collections went from strength to strength in the 19th century. In mid-century it was considered one of the "five great libraries" in the United States, along with the Harvard University LibraryYale University LibraryLibrary of Congress, and Boston Athenæum.

The Library Company's collections were physically split in the mid-19th century. A large bequest from Dr. James Rush resulted in a new building at Broad and Christian streets in South Philadelphia. The Ridgway Library, as it was called, was controversial because it was both physically and socially removed from the homes and businesses of the members. A new, more centrally located, library designed by Frank Furness opened its doors in 1880 at Juniper and Locust Street.

 

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From what I understand from family journals, papers, etc... The wealthier members of my family who lived in cities had a bookcase with many books and also participated in subscription libraries. Encyclopedias, reference materials, and novels were all part of that...poetries, books of sermon, fiction, etc.

 

My poorer relations had a family Bible and a few books which were lent extensively in their circle of acquaintances/family. They in turn also borrowed books.

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Bullfinch is 1855/1858, so about halfway between the 2 sets.

 

What were people reading for the Greek and Roman Myths? Translations? My younger son had some Loebs of myths, but I forget the titles.

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