(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved. Contact us for information about using this image.
Of the 3 "R's" ("reading, 'riting, and 'rithmetic"), reading was, from Puritan times, the most important school subject. In 17th and early 18th century New England, each town's Congregational minister and the town's elected Selectmen had to see that every child in their town learned to read the Bible. Ministers were still leaders in education in New England even after the American Revolution that had started the idea of "the separation of church and state." Schoolbooks were still very moral in tone and strongly religious as well. This reading book by the Rev. Samuel Willard, Unitarian minister in Deerfield in the early 1800's, shows this pattern.