Monday, March 9, 2009

School Books from 1883-1904

Four elementary school books that I have from 1883-1904 belonged to my Grandmother and her family. My Grandmother was born in 1897 and would have used these books during her elementary years 1902-1909. The name and school written in calligraphy with an ink pen on the inside cover of The Modern Spelling Book (copyright 1883) is Ella Sonius, Prairie Queen School, Spencer , Iowa, Summit Township, District 4, Clay County. The four books are:
  • Baldwin's Readers - Third Year, printed by American Book Company, New York, Cincinnati and Chicago (See Baldwin and access his books online here.)
  • The Jones Readers By Grades Book Six, by Ginn and Company, Boston, New York, Chicago, London, in 1903 (This book online; Read it here.)
  • Punctuation and Letter Writing, by Raub and Co., Philadelphia, in 1899. (See photos of pages and read 1887 edition online here)
  • The Modern Spelling Book: Lessons in the Orthography, Pronunciation, Derivation, Meaning and Use of Words, by Merican Book Company, New York, Cincinnatic, Chicago, in 1883.
From the sixth grade reader, The Jones Readers By Grades, Book Six, the preface begins by saying:
This reader is intended as a basal reader for the sixth school year. The selections are made with due reference to the need of a wide range of ideas and a rapidly growing vocabulary to keep pace with the rapid developoment of the work in other subjects in this grade. The reading book in every grade should at once prepare the way for other work and add zest to it by the use of interesting related matter.

At twelve years of age the child is entering upon a definite period of noble impulses and exalted ideals. HIs school reader more than any other book stimulates these impulses and assists these ideals.
I now quote a portion of a selection called "Character" by John Lubbock:
What is necessary for true success in life? But "one thing is needful. Money is not needful; power is not needful; cleverness is not needful; fame is not needful; liberty is not needful; even health is not the one thing needful; but character alone - a thoroughly cultivated will - is that which can truly save us." (quote by Blackie, a Scottish author)

Your character will be what you yourself choose to make it. We cannot all be poets or musicians, great artists or men of science, "but there are many other things of which thou canst not say, I am not formed from them by nature. Show those qualities, then, which are altogether in thy power, -sincerity, gravity, endurance of labor, aversion to luxury, benevolence, frankness, no love of superfluity, freedom from trifling, magnanimity." (quote by Marcus Aurelius, a famous Roman emperor and philosopher; you may remember him as the old Roman emperior in the movie "Gladiator" with Russell Crowe)

Never do anything of which you will have cause to be ashamed. There is one good opinion which is of the greatest importance to you, namely, your own. "An easy conscience," says Seneca, "is a continual feast" . . .

. . . No doubt, having regard to the realities of existence, the ordinary forms of ambition seem quite beneath our notice, and indeed our greatest men, Shakespeare and Milton, Newton and Darwin, have owed nothing to the honors or titles which governments can give.
There are several things worthy of comment or at least reflection in the above quote concerning philosophy, education and contemporary history from 1903. There are more quotes and other things I want to draw attention to in these books and other books like them in the next few weeks.

Mr. Wiemers

1 comment:

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