Manuscripts and Special Collections

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Childhood and Education

The Briggs Collection of Educational Literature provides a rich resource for the study of children in families and schools c.1600-1850.

'General knowledge made easy' typifies the illustrated book which helped young children at home on the first stages of literacy.

It covers the subject areas which were thought to be a necessary part of a young child's education, from agriculture and commerce to geometry and rhetoric. The illustrations have been hand coloured - perhaps by a child.

Older children might be sent away to a seminary such as the Rev. Samuel Catlow's at Mansfield, Nottinghamshire. This school was aimed at the mercantile and middle classes, and its core teaching consisted of reading, writing, merchants' accounts, algebra, geography, and the continental languages.

Catlow's 'Outlines of a plan of instruction' (1798) describes his philosophy of education, the pattern of the boys' days, and the facilities for learning and recreation at the school.

Children of poor families or orphans who depended on charity were expected to be duly grateful, and to use the basic learning they received to follow a useful trade, or go into service. One such charity claimed:

"Twenty-four Boys and Twenty Girls are taught to Read and Write. The Girls are further taught to Sew, Mark, and Knit. They are annually clothed and instructed in such useful Learning, as to fit them for Handicraft Trades or Service."

Further sources relating to this subject area are held by Manuscripts and Special Collections at King's Meadow Campus. See our website for information about our collections and catalogues.

'General knowledge made easy' Zoom in

'General knowledge made easy'

Catlow's academy, Mansfield, Nottinghamshire Zoom in

Catlow's academy, Mansfield, Nottinghamshire

Charity children's psalm Zoom in

Charity children's psalm

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