History of American Schoolbooks

By Charles Carpenter | Go to book overview

XI
Spelling Books

IN AMERICAN COLONIAL DAYS a school spelling manual, besides word-drill lessons, contained material for all-around study; reading exercises, samples of script, a brief section on arithmetic, a little religious matter, and almost anything thought to be helpful in the learning process in the school. Most of the wellknown early beginning schoolbooks used in England and America were designated spelling books, whether that term was in the title or not, or by the more popular appellation spellers. The New England Primer in its day was frequently referred to in that way. In fact, at the time there was little difference in the make-up of some of the beginning spelling books and the primers, except that the former were generally larger.

Two of the school texts most widely used in the Colonies, outside of the New England Primer, were the spelling books of Thomas Dilworth and Daniel Fenning. Dilworth New Guide to the English Tongue, though not titled a spelling book, was generally considered to be one, and was actually more nearly a speller than anything else. This book, first issued in England in 1740, was later printed several times in the American Colonies. In the early editions about half of the somewhat more than one hundred pages were taken up by spelling lists, progressing from words of one syllable to longer ones. The structure of the text,

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History of American Schoolbooks
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Preface 7
  • Contents 11
  • I - The Early American Schools 15
  • II - The New England Primer 21
  • III - Nineteenth-Century Primers 35
  • IV - Special Primers 43
  • V - Beginning of Readers 57
  • VI - Following the Initial Readers 67
  • VII - The Mcguffey and Contemporary Readers 79
  • VIII - Grammars 93
  • IX - Rhetorics and Foreign Language Books 110
  • X - Arithmetics 122
  • XI - Spelling Books 148
  • XII - Literature Texts 160
  • Xlll - Elocution Manuals 168
  • XIV - Handwriting and Copybooks 177
  • XV - School Histories 196
  • XVI - General Science Texts 212
  • XVII - Physiologies And Mental Science Texts 233
  • XVIII - Geographies 245
  • XIX - Progress of Schoolbook Publishing 271
  • Bibliography 279
  • Index 301
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