A trip to the general store was not an everyday event and because of this, goods were sold in bulk by weight. A farmer might purchase a few months worth of a particular item. Products at the general store were not individually packaged like they are today. The storekeeper would use scales to weigh out a particular amount, then wrap the item or place it in a jug the customer brought along.
Families expected their children to receive a practical education in school during the mid-nineteenth century. School lessons focused on what students would need to know to successfully practice a trade or run a farm.
This arithmetic book teaches students basic math, including addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. It also includes lessons on how to count money, make change, and barter, as well as how to keep account books and ledgers.
During school, pupils practiced reading from books called readers. Readers often contained short stories to read and recite. Spelling and vocabulary words, as well as questions to answer about the story, often followed a reading.
Many of the stories in readers reflected the lives that students led. One of the lessons in Cobb’s New Juvenile Reader No. III is about a farmer’s son and the son of a widow. The story also reflects the fact that families had to pay to send their children to school. If a family could not afford school, a child did not attend.