The Anatomy of Mass Literacy in Nineteenth-Century United States

  • Edward StevensJr.


When Samuel Goodrich, using the pseudonym “Peter Parley,” looked back at his boyhood town of Ridgefield, Connecticut in 1790, he recalled a time when books were “scarce, [when they] were read respectfully, and [were read] as if they were grave matters, demanding thought and attention.” “They were not,” he continued, “toys and pastimes, taken up every day, and by everybody, in the short intervals of labor, and then, hastily dismissed, like waste paper.” In the mid-nineteenth century, observed Goodrich, books and papers are “diffused even among country towns, so as to be in the hands of all, young and old.”1


School Attendance Educational Reform Mass Literacy Economic Utility Illiteracy Rate 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • Edward StevensJr.
    • 1
  1. 1.College of EducationOhio UniversityAthensUSA

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