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American Primers and Readers

Featuring the Words and Collection of Richard L. Venezky

An online exhibition of the Cubberley Education Library, Stanford University

Samuel S. Wood

Overview of Samuel S. Wood exhibit case
Detail of left side of exhibit case

"As was traditional in Quaker texts, Wood's readers had no truck with fiction, theater, fairy tales, or military adventures, even those as ennobling as the American Revolution. In contrast to a later (and continuing) tradition, Wood's reading selections reflected what he felt children should read rather than what he assumed the populace would buy" (Venezky, 1990a, p. 21).

Detail from Gingerbread story, illustrated by Alexander Anderson

Pomeroy, Jane R. 2005. Alexander Anderson, 1775-1870: wood engraver and illustrator: an annotated bibliography. New Castle, Del.: Oak Knoll Press; Worcester, MA: American Antiquarian Society.

This story about Ginger Bread illustrated by Alexander Anderson is used to denounce slavery and support the boycott of products made with molasses.

Detail of right side of exhibit case

"Samuel Wood was the first publisher to compile a complete series of schoolbooks, and he issued not one but two such series in the first decade of his printing and publishing career. The first series, consisting of The Young Child's ABC; or First Book, the New York Primer, the New York Preceptor, the New York Speller, and the New York Expositor, was issued between 1806 and 1810. The second, and probably more important series, consisting of the New York Readers, Nos. 1-3, was issued in the period 1812-15 and was the first true series of graded readers ever issued. Other authors, like Lindley Murray, had written reading texts with different levels of difficulty, but none of these were planned as complete series." (Venezky, 1990a, p. 19).

Reprint of pp. 28-29 of Cries of New York

Cries of New-York. 1936. Chicago: T. Rubovits. Facsim. reprint. Originally published: New-York: S. Wood & Sons, 1822.

Cover image of The Young Child's A.B.C.

The Young child's A.B.C., or, first book. [18--?] New-York: S. Wood.

Detail of title page of the Fifth Book

Wiggins, Richard. 1822. The New-York expositor, or, Fifth book: Being a collection of the most useful words in the English language. New York: Samuel Wood and Sons.