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No. V. JULY, 1856.


We should be doing injustice to our own appreciation of the important services rendered to American Education in all its department, by the American Institute of Instruction, through the Lectures and Discussions of its Annual Meetings for the last quarter of a century, and i y its contributions to the educational literature of the English language in its twenty-six published volumes, if we did not seize the earliest opportunity to record its origin and history, and spread before our readers some evidence of its usefulness in the wide range of topics ably presented at its annual meetings, and embodied in a permanent form in the printed volumes of its proceedings.

Although, not the earliest* formed, the American Institute of Instruction, so far as we have any means of judging, is the oldest existing educational association in this country. With its present object and constitution, it originated in a Convention of Teachers and other friends of education, to the number of over two hundred, held at Columbian Hall, in Boston, on the 15th, 16th, 17th, and 18th of March, 1830; and, with a committee appointed by that meeting, on the 18th, "to digest a plan, and prepare a constitution for a permanent association of persons engaged or interested in the work of instruction." This meeting may have been suggested immediately by the gatherings for lectures and discussions under the general name of Lyceums, which were started by Josiah Holbrook, in 1826; but, the convention, and the resolution for a permanent and more general organization, in all probability, grew out of, and formed part of, a wide-spread movement or revival of interest and exertion in behalf of common schools and other institutions and agencies of popular improvement, which began to manifest itself as far back as the beginning of the present century, and which can be more distinctly traced in the action of public bodies, and in printed documents from 1818, until 1830, when it had reached a large number of teachers and public spirited individuals, in different parts of the country.

*The earliest Educational Association in this country, was formed at Middletown, Conn., in 1799, under the name of the "Middlesex County Association for the Improvement of Common Schools." See Barnard's History of Education in Connecticut, from 1636 to 1853.

The indications of this movement or "revival of education," as it has been called, may be traced in

The discussions in the public press, legislative halls, and city councils, which attended the establishment or improved organization and administration of public schools in many of the principal cities and large towns,? viz.: In New York, in 1806, by the opening of a free school for poor children, and the subsequent action of the Free (afterwards called the Public) School Society; in Philadelphia 1818, Lancaster in 1821, and Pittsburg in 1828; in Boston, by the institution of Primary Schools in 1818, of English High School in 1821, and of a High School for girls in 1825; in Worcester in 1825, in Lowell in 1827, in Portland in 1822, and Bath in 1828, in Providence in 1828, in Hartford in 1826, in Cincinnati in 1828, &c.

The establishment of the School Fund in Connecticut, and the proposition to endow Common Schools out of the avails of the public lands belonging to the United States, and the presentation of this subject in some of its aspects, to the legislatures of several States, by the Governor or school officer:"

The establishment, or revision of the common or public school system in a majority of the States, viz. in Kentucky, in 1821 and 1828; in Maine, in 1821; in Alabama, in 1823; in Maryland, Missouri, and Ohio, in 1825; in Connecticut, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Vermont, Rhode Island, New York, Virginia, Delaware, and South Carolina, in 1827 or 1828:

(1.) THE REVIVAL OF EDUCATION. An Address to the Normal Association, Bridgewater, Mass., Aug. 8, 1855. By Rev. Samuel J. May, Syracuse, N. Y. Syracuse, J. G. R. Trubner, 1855. p. 40. In this Address the Author, who was an active and influential participator in the Educational Revival of Connecticut and Massachusetts from 1822 to 1845, and was Principal of the State Normal School at Lexington, in 1943, has presented a rapid and interesting sketch of the principal agents, and incidents of the great reform and improvement of the System of Common Schools and other means of Popular Education in New England.

(2.) The Progress and Condition of Educational Improvement in the principal cities of the United States-where our American System of Public Instruction has received its fullest development, will be presented in a subsequent number of this Journal.

(3.) The establishment of Primary Schools as part of the system of Public Schools in Boston in 1818, through the exertions of Elisha Ticknor and others, and subsequently of the English High School for boys who did not intend to go through College, and of a High School for girls; (afterwards merged in an extension of the course of instruction for girls in the Grammar Schools,) in 1825, are among the most important events in the history of public instruction in this country.

(4.) The project presented in 1821, by a Committee of the Senate of Maryland, of which Virgil Maxcy was Chairman, for distributing a portion of the avails of the sales of the Public Lands to the several States, for educational purposes, with the action of several of the State Legislatures, on the same, attracted the attention of public men everywhere to the condition and improvement of the common schools.

(5.) The messages of Gov. Clinton. of New York, of Gov. Lincoln, of Mass., of Gov. Butler, of Vermont, of Gov. Lincoln, of Maine, and of the governors of other states, between the years, 1826 and 1830, to their respective Legislatures, copied as they were widely and commented on, in the newspapers of the country, popularized the idea of the necessity of school improvement.

(6.) The appointment of a Superintendent of Common Schools in the State of New York, in 1812, and the annual reports of that officer, and especially of Azariah C. Flagg, John A. Dix, and John C Spencer, exerted a powerful influence in inducing other states to recognize the common or public schools as a part of their leading policy.


The almost simultaneous publication in 1824-25, by Thomas H. Gallaudet, of Hartford, Conn., James G. Carter,10 of Lancaster, Mass., and Walter R. Johnson, of Germantown, Penn., in newspapers and in pamphlets, of their views on the improvement of public schools and education generally, by an institution for the professional training of


The establishment of the American Journal of Education," in January, 1826, and its monthly issue afterward of able discussions and current intelligence respecting schools and education until merged in the Ameriean Annals of Education in 1830:

The experiments in infant, monitorial, and manual-labor schools: The improvement of text-books, and particularly the publication of Colburn's' First Lessons:

The establishment and multiplication of seminaries for the education of girls:15

The proposition, in 1825, for the establishment of independent schools of practical science, or extension of our plans of collegiate instruction," so as to admit of more attention to the sciences and especially as applied to the useful arts:

The formation of Mechanic Institutions, in 1821, and the Lyceum1 with its popular lectures, cabinets of specimens of natural history, classes for debates and mutual instruction, in 1826:

The conventions, town, county, and state, held in behalf of common schools in Connecticut, and other parts of New England, from 1826 to

(7.) An History of the Legislation of the several States respecting Common or Public Schools, with an outline of the System of operation in 1856, in each state, will be published in No. 7 or 8, of this Journal.

(8) The earliest suggestion of institutions, where teachers of common schools could be qualified, was made by Elisha Ticknor, in 1789, in the Massachusetts Magazine, and the first proposition for a distinct academy or institution for this purpose, by Denison Olmsted, now Professor in Yale College at New Haven, in 1817.

(9) We shall publish a biographical sketch of Warren Colburn, in the next number of this Journal.

(10) The services of James B. Carter, from 1822 to 1837, in behalf of the professional edu. cation of teachers, the improvement of text-books, and the more vigorous administration of public schools, are strangely overlooked. We have collected the material for a sketch of his educational labors.

(11.) We shall present a sketch of the labors of William Russell, William C. Woodbridge, and William A. Alcott--in acknowledgment of the debt of gratitude due to them for their services to the cause, especially as the editors of the first periodical devoted to the advancement of education in the English language.

(12.) In connection with a biography of Josiah Holbrook, we shall give a history of the Lyceum, and Popular Scientific Lecture.

(13.) The general development of the American College System, and its sudden expansion from about the year 1825, will be shown in the "History and Condition of Colleges in the United States," which we propose to give soon in one or two numbers of the Journal, for convenience of comparison and reference.

(14.) The establishment of the Rensselaer Institute at Troy, and of the University at Virginia, are important events in the history of American Education.

(15.) The labors of Mrs. Emma Willard, at Troy, of Rev. Joseph Emerson, at Wethersfield, of Miss Beecher, at Hartford, of Miss Grant, at Ipswich, of Miss Lyon, at South Hadley, as well as the earlier labors of Miss Pierce, at Litchfield, and Rev. Mr. Herrick, at New Haven, will not be forgotten.

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1830, and especially the formation of the Society for the improvement of common schools at Hartford, in 1827, and of the Pennsylvania Society for the promotion of public schools in 1828:

In these and other ways, this movement in behalf of the more general, tho rough, and complete education of the people, had given indications of the earnest and well-directed labors of many persons, acting in widely separated and isolated spheres, and ready for mutual counsel and cooperation as soon as any plan of association should be proposed.

One movement* toward such an organization, although it did not attain to any formal shape, publicly recognized, yet contributed to prepare the way for the formation of the American Institute of Instruction, was the action of a society, embracing nearly fifty prominent active friends of education, in the professions, in practical life, and in the occupation of teaching.

"The society here referred to was formed in consequence of invitations issued by Mr. Thomas B. Wait,† publisher of the Journal of Education, to a meeting held, in the autumn of 1826, at the study of Professor George Ticknor, of Boston. At this meeting, the subject was fully discussed, and a hearty pledge of cooperation mutually given; and, Professor Ticknor was appointed chairman of a committee to prepare a statement of the plan and purposes of the proposed association. This statement was inserted in the American Journal of Education, Vol. I, p. 485.

"The society thus originated, contemplated an extensive scope of operation in the whole field of education. At weekly meetings, held for successive months, the business proposed was fully and thoroughly discussed; plans were matured for the assignment of the prominent branches and stages of education to special committees, and for an extensive investigation into the actual condition of schools and other seminaries, with full reports on the same; and, the Journal of Education was adopted as the channel of communication for such purposes. one step remained to be taken for the commencement of active measures, But, and the public announcement of the formation and design of the associa*The following statement is made on the authority of Prof. William Russell, at that time editor of the American Journal of Education, and teacher of Elocution and English Literature in Boston. † Mr. Thomas B. Wait, of Boston, a practical printer and publisher, projected the publication of the American Journal of Education in the fall of 1825. He become deeply interested in the subject of education, during his residence in Portland, Maine, by the movements there made for the introduction of a graded system of public schools for that city. The first Number of the Journal was issued in the 1st of January, 1825.

The statement referred to, was published in Vol. I, of the American Journal of Education, p. 485, and presents in a clear and forcible manner the reasons for a combined and concentrated effort of men eminent and active in literature, science, and public life, for the advancement of education. Among the objects proposed for immediate attention, are:

1. Discussion of Domestic Education, and the establishment of Infant Schools.

2. The professional education and improvement of teachers.

3. The collecting of a Library of useful books on Education.

4. The Improvement of School Books.

5. Making and bringing together observations on schools of different grades in different localities 6. Central and associated Committees.

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