chapter  5
The Anatomy of Mass Literacy in Nineteenth-Century United States
ByEdward Stevens
Pages 24

During the sixty years spanned by Goodrich's remarks, a large segment of the United States population had experienced a literacy campaign that permeated virtually every dimension of American culture. The nexus of literacy and schooling in nineteenth-century United States is emphasized. The most crucial question left after reviewing the anatomy of the literacy campaigns in the first half of the nineteenth century is whether they were successful. The strategies and precedents used by reformers and the process of convincing the American public that mass literacy was a worthwhile goal are emphasized. Organizational precedents had been set, technological improvements were in place, and the ideological roots were firm. The triumphs of common school reformers from 1830 to 1850 have become legendary in the history of American education. By 1850, common-school reformers had successfully established the common school as the major institution for transmitting basic literacy.