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"Little Jack of All Trades, with Suitable Representations. Part I."
(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved.
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Books for children in the 18th and 19th centuries were supposed not merely to entertain but also to instruct young readers. This book illustrates and describes the various trades common in the early 1800s. The pictures and verses accompanying each occupation were designed to appeal to children. Note the way in which the illustrator carefully included young assistants or apprentices in many of the accompanying woodcuts. It is also interesting to note that all of the occupations in the book involve manual labor; there are no descriptions of merchants, traders, doctors, ministers or other professionals. Of course, most people had always had to work. The difference was that by the early 1800s, their labor now gained them respectability, and, in some cases, fame. Like the printer in the "Little Jack of All Trades," Americans in this period celebrated Benjamin Franklin's work as a printer and an inventor more than his accomplishments as a scientist, philosopher, and man of leisure: "I, my little readers, when working at my press, am conscious of the utility I am to mankind, and often reflect with pride...that the great and immortal Dr. Franklin was once, like me, A JOURNEYMAN PRINTER."
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