Barnard, Henry

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Barnard, Henry

Henry Barnard, 1811–1900, American educator, b. Hartford, Conn., grad. Yale, 1830. He studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1835. As a member (1837–39) of the Connecticut legislature, he originated and secured the passage in 1838 of an act to provide for the better supervision of the common schools. Horace Mann had carried through a similar reform in Massachusetts in 1837, and the two men became leaders in the movement to reform the common schools of the country. Barnard was secretary of the Connecticut board of commissioners of common schools from 1838 to 1842. He performed pioneer work in school inspection, recommendation of textbooks, organization of teachers' institutes and associations of parents and teachers, and the framing of additional legislative measures on education. He also edited the Connecticut Common School Journal and made valuable reports, including a survey of the existing school system. A political reversal in Connecticut in 1842 abolished his office and entire program. In 1843, Barnard was selected to survey the common school system of Rhode Island and instituted similar reforms there, as well as starting school libraries and revising examination methods. In 1849 he returned to Connecticut, where his program had been reestablished, to serve as superintendent of schools and principal of the new state normal school at New Britain. Ill health compelled his resignation in 1855. In 1858 he accepted the chancellorship of the Univ. of Wisconsin, and in two years there he did much for the state's common school system. He became president of St. John's College, Annapolis, in 1866, but resigned in 1867 to become the first U.S. commissioner of education. Barnard had long urged the establishment of a federal agency to gather and disseminate educational information and statistics, which had been collected for the first time in the census of 1840. As commissioner he planned and organized the work of this agency and prepared extensive reports on education in this country and abroad and on school legislation. Barnard resigned in 1870. He continued the publication of the American Journal of Education (31 vol., 1855–81; reissued in 1902 with an additional volume dated 1882). This journal, subsidized by Barnard, included translations of many previously unavailable European educational classics. Approximately 50 of these treatises were reprinted as Barnard's "Library of Education."

See his Memoirs on Teachers and Educators (1861, repr. 1969) and biography by E. N. MacMullen (1990).

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