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The New England Primer


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This was a standard reader in New England in the 18th and 19th centuries. It was apparently used in both public and Sunday (religious) schools. At that time children of all ages studied in the same classroom, so it has portions oriented towards younger and older students.

Besides instruction in the alphabet, the New England Primer also served to indoctrinate young minds in the stern and somewhat morbid Protestantism of that time and place. Depending on your viewpoint, it is either yet another example of how religion has been excised from the public schools in the United States, or a quaint sample of what our forefathers considered acceptable as 'moral education'.

The New England Primer also has examples of religious intolerance, specifically anti-Catholic and anti-Semitic statements, which reflect then-contemporary attitudes.

This particular book went through a number of editions. This version was scanned from an copy in the possession of my family which was published in 1843. An earlier version, dated 1777, is also available here.

--J.B. Hare.

Title Page
The Creed
The Lord's Prayer
The Ten Commandments
Alphabet Poem
An Alphabet of Lessons for Children
Morning Prayer for a Child
Evening Prayer for a Child
Agur's Prayer
Duty Of Children To Their Parents
Uncertainty of Life
On Life and Death
The Infant's Grace Before and After Meat
The Sum of the Ten Commandments
Our Savior's Golden Rule
Choice Sentences
The Dutiful Child's Promise
Instructive Questions and Answers
Dr. Watts's Cradle Hymn
Offices of Humanity
The Burning of Mr. John Rogers
Verses for Little Children
The Shorter Catechism
A Dialogue Between Christ, A Youth and the Devil
Lessons for Children