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Historical Curriculum Materials

Historical Curriculum Materials


Finding Aids | Collections



Finding Aids

  • Caspard, P. (1995). International guide for research in the history of education (2nd ed.) Paris : Institut National de Recherche Pedagogique; Bern: P. Lang. Location: Main Stacks, 370.9 G941.
  • Directory of Historical Textbook and Curriculum Collections (2005). Compiled by the Ad Hoc Historical Textbook and Curriculum Collections Directory Committee, Education and Behavioral Sciences Section, Association of College and Research Libraries; editor, Judy Walker.  Location: SSHEL Reference, Q. 011.70973 D628.
  • Educational Research Library (National Institute of Education).  Early American Textbooks: A Catalog of Titles Held by the Educational Research Library. Washington: U.S. Dept. of Education, 1985. (Location: SSHEL S-Collection, S.011.7 UN3e)
    This historical catalog of early children’s textbooks covers civics, foreign language, music education, and penmanship, among other subject areas. The textbooks are indexed by author and topic.
  • History of Education Museums and Collections International directory (1993/1994). Dekalb, Illinois: Blackwell History of Education Research Collection, Northern Illinois University. Location: Oak Street, 370.74 H629. (Additional information about the publisher can be found at the Blackwell History of Education Museum.)




  • American Antiquarian Society
    The American Antiquarian Society (AAS) Children’s Books collection includes 1,850 pedagogical children’s books, from school books and Sabbath school books to primers. Books published before 1801 or after 1820 are searchable in the AAS online catalog. Books published between 1801 and 1820 are in the process of being fully cataloged with new titles being added every day.The AAS “holds the single strongest collection (about 200 editions) of New England primers printed before 1830…and nearly half of the non-New England primers recorded by Heartman in ‘American Primers, Indian Primers, Royal Primers, and Thirty-Seven Other Types of Non-New England Primers Issued Prior to 1830’.”
  • American Primers Collection (HPNL)To search the American Primers collection, refer to American Primers: a Guide to the Microfiche Collection, (MFICHE428.6 Am35 index). This microfiche collection includes textbooks, reading primers, and a limited number of teaching manuals (lesson plans, teaching methods, learning games and activities, teacher’s guides to accompany primers) from the 1700’s to the mid-1930s. The focus is on introductory reading material from that period, such as primers, spellers, and alphabet books.
  • Center for Research Libraries: Textbooks and Curriculum Guides Collection
    The CRL Web site on education resources provides a summary description of its 23,000 courses of study from American schools and agencies, and 70,000 American schoolbooks. Both collections have mostly 20th century materials, although older materials are included in both. None of the materials are cataloged.
  • Harvard University: Historical Textbooks
    This web site describes the Historical Textbooks Collection at Harvard University, which contains historical schoolbooks, school reports, and other special collections with an emphasis on materials published between 1800 and 1950.
  • HEARTH: Home Economics Archive: Research, Tradition, and History
    Located at Cornell University, this “collection of books and journals in Home Economics and related disciplines offers carefully selected full-text works published between 1850 and 1950 on the domestic sciences, including Institutional Management and Retail and Consumer Studies, as well as typical child care and housekeeping topics. Searchable and browsable through subject bibliographies with accompanying essays.”
  • Historical Curriculum Collections (Canada)
    This resource from the University of Alberta Library contains information about, and selected digital copies of, historical curriculum materials and textbooks primarily used in Alberta, Canada. A directory on the web page also provides links to digitized material, similar collections in other Canadian provinces, and courses of study. Both print and digital resources are included in the collections.
  • Illinois State University Milner Library. Unique Collections: Historical Textbook Collection
    The Milner Library maintains a large collection of historical textbooks as part of it’s Children’s Literature Collection. The collection is mostly from the late nineteenth century and covers all subjects. The Historical Textbook Collection can be searched through the Milner online catalog, however cataloging for the collection is not complete. The Special Collections librarians therefore maintain a list of the books grouped by subject.
  • Museum of Education, University of South Carolina – Columbia
    This site includes information about educational life in South Carolina as well as national trends in curriculum (primarily in a Progressive tradition).
  • Nietz, J. (1961). Old textbooks: spelling, grammar, reading, arithmetic, geography, American history, civil government, physiology, penmanship, art, music, as taught in the common schools from colonial days to 1900. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press. Location: 371.32 N31O, Main Stacks, Oak Street, and online
  • Nietz, J. (1966). The evolution of American secondary school textbooks; rhetoric & literature, algebra, geometry, natural history (zoology), botany, natural philosophy (physics), chemistry, Latin and Greek, French, German & world history as taught in American Latin grammar school academies and early high schools before 1900. Rutland, Vt.: C. E. Tuttle Co. Location: 371.32 N31E, Main Stacks and Oak Street
  • 19th Century Schoolbooks, University of Pittsburgh
    This site contains information on the University of Pittsburgh’s Nietz schoolbook collection as well as access to full-text digitized items.
  • Northern Illinois University Blackwell History of Education Research Museum
    The Blackwell Museum contains over 11,000 textbooks, some more than 400 years old. The collection contains hornbooks, battledores, primers, and readers, along with reference materials and many other kinds of texts in a variety of subjects.
  • School Gardening in the early 1900s
    This website includes primary source documents and information pertaining to K-12 school gardens and gardening in the early 20th century. Emphasis is on gardening as part of the school curriculum. The web site covers various resources on this subject, including Board of Education documents, images, and curriculum information. Supporting documents, websites, and online books are also highlighted.
  • Stanford University: Cubberley Education Library Historical Textbook Collection
    Stanford University Library is moving several collections from 2023 through 2026.  While material is searchable in the catalog, access may be limited.  The Cubberley Library has two collections of historical textbooks: The pre-Twentieth Century Textbook Collection (late 18th to the early 20th century) and the Twentieth Century Elementary and Secondary School Textbook collection (1900 to the early 1970s).
  • Trinity College: Watkinson Library Barnard Collection of School Textbooks
    The Barnard Collection is made up of ca. 7,000 volumes of mostly American texts from the 18th century to around 1880. The collection also includes a large number of New England primers. Materials can be accessed through Trinity College Library’s online catalog.
  • William Holmes McGuffey at Miami University
    Provides a biography, history, bibliography and links to the special collections of papers and books by and about William Holmes McGuffey in the Miami University of Ohio libraries. Also includes links to the McGuffey museum and to digitized text from his Eclectic First Reader.