(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved. Contact us for information about using this image.
Horace Mann (1796-1859) was a successful lawyer in Boston who had a strong interest in education. He was appointed to be the head of the first Massachusetts Board of Education in 1837. The Board had only advisory powers, but Mann worked hard to use his influence to improve the commonwealth's schools. This Abstract is from the Board's first report. It asked each school district in the commonwealth to give some basic information about itself and to conduct some sort of self-evaluation. The reports from Franklin County reproduced here give a broad amount of information--teacher pay, student attendance, how much the town supports its schools--along with an assessment of the schools by concerned citizens. These reports helped counties begin to change their schools and to spur the commonwealth of Massachusetts to pass laws mandating certain changes. By the time Mann left the Board to enter Congress in 1848, Massachusetts was well on its way to creating the country's first and finest universal public school system.