New England Primer

New England Primer,

famous American school book, first published before 1690. Its compiler was Benjamin Harris, an English printer who emigrated to Boston. This was the book from which most of the children of colonial America learned to read. The letters of the alphabet were illustrated by rhymed couplets (e.g., "The idle Fool/Is whipt at School") and woodcuts; the lessons frequently contained moral texts based on the Old Testament. The book was reprinted many times, with various changes in text and even in title. Although it has been estimated that as many as 2 million were sold in the 18th cent., copies of the book are now rare.


See P. L. Ford, ed., The New England Primer (1897, repr. 1962).

References in classic literature ?
Pearl, therefore -- so large were the attainments of her three years' lifetime -- could have borne a fair examination in the New England Primer, or the first column of the Westminster Catechisms, although unacquainted with the outward form of either of those celebrated works.
A school for little children had been often in her thoughts; and, at one time, she had begun a review of her early studies in the New England Primer, with a view to prepare herself for the office of instructress.
Chapters focus in turn on Puritan New England, the New England Primer, the nineteenth-century Bible "wars," and the American Renaissance.
It is worth the effort to tease out Fessenden's provocative claims: that the Puritans' violence against religious and racial outsiders grew out of their devotion to the Christian Word; the New England Primer helped to fuse the secularization of Protestantism with its expansion; the apparent secularization of public education became an instrument for maintaining its Protestant character; the literary merger of Christianity with democracy made a particular version of Christianity seem normative.
If the point of the New England Primer was to teach children that they were sinners and that Jesus died to save them from their sins," Prothero notes, "the point of the later McGuffey readers was to teach children that God wanted them to work hard, save their money, tell the truth, and avoid alcohol.
Perhaps the best-known and most influential seventeenth-century book containing the alphabet was the New England Primer (14), first published in 1690, though the copy described here is a reprint of the 1777 edition.
The New England Primer was a textbook used by students in New England and in other English settlements in North America in the late seventeenth century.
The Story of A: The Alphabetization of America from The New England Primer to The Scarlet Letter.
Although Grain begins with the New England Primer, first published about 1690, she quickly moves backward in time in order to compare it with its post-Reformation predecessor, Orbis Sensualism Pictus, or The Visible World, by Johann Amos Comenius (1592-1670), the first picture book for children.
29) These lines could be construed as morally instructive, but not in the way that Woolman's references to animals were, and indeed, in the revision of the New England Primer in 1761 several of the couplets referring to animals were replaced by others deemed more appropriate for the education of children.

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