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The General Collections



Starting Places
Biographical Sources
Women's Writings
Other Sources
Etiquette Books
Sex Manuals
Gift Books and Annuals
Cookbooks and Domestic Journals
Game and Hobby Books
arrow graphicSchool Primers and Readers
College Catalogs




School Primers and Readers
see caption below

Children at Sunday school class. Ansel Adams, photographer. 1943. Prints and Photographs Division. LC-DIG-ppprs-00347 (b&w digital file from original print)

bibliographic record

The Library holds more than two thousand elementary-school primers and readers. These small volumes show the vocabulary, concepts, and literature considered appropriate for children at various age levels in different time periods. The texts and illustrations depict clothing, homes, and toys, as well as conventional views of children and adults and activities thought suitable for each sex.

In a lesson from the Franklin Second Reader (1873) [catalog record], a mother advises her daughter to be good, clean, tidy, to do as she is bidden, and to attend to her sewing.40 More than seventy years later, School Friends (1951) [catalog record] explains that mother helps us by cooking, sewing, and shopping for food, and father helps us by carpentry, lawn mowing, and fire building.41 You can clearly see cultural norms, contemporary values, and gender stereotypes that children are taught in their school readers.

These primers, like college catalogs, education-association journals, or histories of individual schools, are examples from the vast quantity of material available for studying the education of girls and women at the Library of Congress. School readers also serve historians in other fields such as sports and language.

SEARCH TIPS: Similar works, especially those published before 1801, can be found in the Rare Book and Microform Reading Rooms.

SAMPLE LCSH: Primers; Readers; Readers and speakers.

LC CALL NUMBERS: PE1117, PE1119-21, PE1123-24 (religious readers).

A few titles in PE1130.I6 (Native-American readers) and PE1130.N4 (African-American readers).

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