Almanacs were extremely popular books in the farming community, largely because of their weather predictions. Farmers would use these predictions to help plan the planting season.
In 1862, Lucy Medora Walker, a woman from Springfield (Otsego County), New York, kept a diary. In addition to recording her daily events, “Dora” kept a memorandum in the back of her diary that tracked how much of her money she spent. She earned her money by picking hops.
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.
The Methodist Harmonist contained the music for many of the hymns of the Methodist Church. The Methodist Harmonist shows how important music was within the church. The book not only includes the melody for each hymn, but provides harmony parts for every song. Hymnals, although important to the worship service, did not provide musical notation.
Music has always been an important part of the Methodist church service. During the mid-nineteenth century, people brought their own hymnals to church with them. Hymnals were often small enough to fit inside a pocket but were very expensive books. Because of their expense and important place in the church service, people often gave and received hymnals as gifts. The modern Methodist Church service still includes the singing of hymns. Most people now use hymnals provided by the church rather than bringing their own.