« PreviousContinue »
raises man above the brute, but by presenting some object of sufficient interest to divert the attention of the young from places and practices which lead to dissipation and to ruin. I do not doubt but alterations in the title and articles will be advisable; but I believe, most confidently, that something of the general plan may be carried into effect.
Society for Mutual Education. The first object of this society is to procure for youths an economical and practical education, and to diffuse rational and useful information through the community generally.
The second object is to apply the sciences and the various branches of edacation to the domestic and useful arts, and to all the common purposes of life.
Branches of this society may be formed in any place where a number are disposed to associate for the same object, and to adopt the following or similar arti-. cles as their constitution:
The society will hold meetings, as often as they think it expedient, for the purpose of mutual instruction in the sciences, by investigating and discussing them, or any other branch of useful knowledge. The several branches of Natural Philosophy, viz., Mechanics, Hydrostatics, Pneumatics, Chemistry, Mineralogy, Botany, any branch of the Mathematics, History, Political Economy, or any political, intellectual, or moral subject, may be examined and discussed by the society.
Aný branch of the society may, as often as they think it expedient, procure regular courses of instruction, by lectures or otherwise, in any subject of useful knowledge.
The society, as they find it convenient, shall procure books, apparatus for illustrating the sciences, à cabinet of minerals, and other articles of natural or artiticial production.
The society may aid in establishing and patronizing an institution, or institntions, for giving to youths a thorongh education-intellectual, moral, and physical--and in the application of the sciences to agriculture and the other useful arts, and for qualifying teachers. The aid to be given by furnishing means for the pupils, by agricultural or mechanical operations, to detray or lessen the expenses of their education.
Any person may be a member of the society by paying to the treasurer, annually, one dollar. And ten dollars, paid at any one time, will constitute a person a member for lite.
The money paid to the society for membership or otherwise shall be appropriated to the purchase of books, apparatus, a cabinet, aiding an institution for practical education, or for some other object for the benefit of the society.
The officers of each branch of the society shall be a president, vice-president, treasurer, recording and corresponding secretaries ; five curators, and three delegates to meet delegates from other branches of the society in the same county.
The president, vice-president, treasurer, and recording 'secretary shall perform the duties usually implied in those offices. The corresponding secretaries shall make communications to each other for the benefit of the society, as discoveries, improvements, or other circunstances shall require.
The curators shall have charge of the library, apparatus, cabinet, and all other property of the society not appertaining to the treasury.
The delegates of the several branches of the society in any one connty shall meet semi-annually, at such place as they shall choose, for the purpose of consulting upon measures for promoting the designs of the society, particularly for encouraging an institution for giving an economical and practical education, and for qualitying teachers.
The delegates from the several branches of the society in any county shall be called the board of delegates from the society for mutual education in that county.
The board of delegates in each county shall appoint such officers as shall be necessary for their organization, or for doing any business coming within their province.
Each board of delegates shall appoint a representative, to meet representatives from other boards, who shall be styled the board of mutual education for a given state, and it might be advantageous to have also a general board, embracing the United States.
It shall be the duty of the general or state boards to meet annually, to appoint a president and other officers, to devise and recommend such a system of education as they shall think most eligible, also to recommend such books as they shall think best fitted to answer the purposes for which they are designed, and to adopt and recommend such measures, generally, as are most likely to secure to the rising generation the best intellectual, inoral, and physical education, and to diffuse the greatest quantity of nseful information aniong the various classes of the community.
Any branch of the society will have power to adopt such by-laws and regulations as will be necessary for the management and use of the library, apparatus, cabinet, &c., and for carrying into effect any designs not inconsistent with the general object of the society.
Several institutions, essentially the same as here proposed, have already been formed in our country, and some of them are highly useful and respectable: that others may and will be formed, there is no doubt. The object of the above articles is to forward the formation of them npon a general plan, and to forin a connocting link between them which will enable them to unite their efforts, and may possibly lead them to vie with each other in prosecuting their general object, which is certainly second to no one that ever enlisted the talents of the philosopher or of the statesman, or the feelings of the philanthropist.
A few weeks later, in November of that year, we find Mr. Holbrook at Millbury, in Worcester County, Mass., where he delivered a course of lectures on subjects in natural science, at the close of which he succeeded in inducing thirty or forty of his hearers, farmers and mechanics of the place, to organize themselves into a society for mutual improvement, which at his request was called “Millbury Lyceum No. 1., Branch of the Americån Lyceum."*
The formation of this Lyceum at Millbury was closely followed by that of several others in towns in that vicinity, and these were soon combined, in pursuance of Mr. Holbrook's general plan of a Lyceum, into the “ Worcester County Lyceum." The Lyceum of Windham County, Conn., and its constituent Town Lyceums, were also shortly afterward organized; Mr. Holbrook's efforts in their case being energetically aided by Rev. Samuel J. May, then of Brooklyn, in that county.
From this time forward, Mr. Holbrook, for a long series of years, devoted all his efforts to the organization of a system of institutions, to bear the collective name of The American Lyceum; which was to consist of a State Lyceum in each State, this again of its subordinate County Lyceum, and these of the ultimate constituent bodies or Town Lyceums. The exercises of these bodies contemplated generally the instruction of their members in such departments of science as were calculated to improve their knowledge of and skill in their occupations, and this instruction was to be given by essays and discussions among the members, on plants, minerals, &c., from the neighborhood, or on proper subjects in science and art; and by lectures, either by members or by invited speakers.
During the years immediately subsequent to 1826, Mr. Holbrook made Boston his center of operations. He commenced there, about the year 1828 or 1829, the manufacture of philosophical apparatus
* This Millbury association has often been referred to as the first in America in the nature of a * Lyceum.” It would not however be difficult to cite a number of earlier instances of analogous attempts, such as courses of popular lectures on science, societies for mutual im. provement, &c., for which see " Memoir of Dr. Griscom," " Life of Timothy Clarion," “ History of Adult Education in England," " Life of Pilatre de Rosier in France,”' &c. It is intended to give, in a furure number of this Journal, some contributions to a history of early American euterprises of this character. See note B, at the end of this article.
for common schools ; in which enterprise he was much aided by Timothy Claxton.* This business is still carried on by his son, Dwight Holbrook, in connection with a corporation called the Holbrook Manufacturing Company.
One of the fruits of Mr. Holbrook's labors in the Lyceum cause during this period was the assembling of the meeting at Columbian Hall, in Boston, March 15th, 1830. The call to this meeting was issued in the name of the “State Committee of Lyceums,” and its objects were stated to be “to receive reports on the progress of Lyceums, and the condition of common schools, and to acquire information as to the organization of infant schools, and the use of school and cheap scientific apparatus.” The meeting -was called to order by Mr. Holbrook, who stated its objects. Rev. J. Going, of Worcester, was appointed chairman; and Mr. Holbrook, chairman of the committee of arrangements. During this convention, Mr. Holbrook made a full exhibition of his school apparatus, and set forth his views as to its use and introduction. The discussions at this convention covered many important educational subjects, and one of its results was the appointment of the committee which drafted the constitution of the American Institute of Instruction, and called the convention to establish that body, which met at Boston, Aug. 19, 1830. Mr. Holbrook appears not to have been identified with this branch of the movement.
Another valuable suggestion of this convention was the recommendation of teachers' conventions, to meet at the time of the county lyceum meetings, for the purpose of forming associations for mutual improvement; and to hear lectures on educational subjects, from lecturers employed for that purpose. Numerous meetings of this kind were accordingly held during the following year.
Mr. Holbrook commenced, during the year 1830, an undertaking in another department of his chosen field of labor, by the publication of a series, entitled “ Scientific Tracts," which were issued by him until the year 1832, with the view of furnishing useful information to the masses, on the same principle with the publications of the English Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge. In that year Mr. Holbrook withdrew from the editorship of the “ Tracts,” and was succeeded by Dr. J. V. C. Smith.
This withdrawal was occasioned by Mr. Holbrook's desire to devote himself wholly to his labors for Lyceums, and to the interests of his weekly paper, “ The Family Lyceum," which was commenced 28th July, 1832. This paper was intended to be the organ of his favorite enterprise; and, until its discontinuance after its first year, diffused
• See Note C.
among teachers and families a vast amount of useful miscellaneous popular information on scientific subjects, illustrated with many respectable wood-cuts.
At about the same period, a community of views brought Mr. Holbrook into communication with S. R. Hall, then at the head of the Teachers' Seminary at Andover; and he was appointed corresponding secretary of the School Agents' Society, organized in 1831, under the influence of Mr. Hall, “ to procure and encourage travelingagents in behalf of schools and education.” This office he retained during the several years of the active operations of that society.
In February, 1831, Mr. Holbrook took an active interest in the formation of the Boston Mechanics' Lyceum, whose origin is thus given in the “Young Mechanic," for August, 1832.
The first meeting in favor of forming a Mechanics' Lyceum in this city (Boston) was called by Mr. Josiah Holbrook, February 5, 1831. Mr. Timothy Clax. ton presided, and Mr. W. S. Baxter acted as secretary. The evening was occupied by the discussion of this question, “Has any class of the community stronger inducements or better opportunities for mental improvement than prac. tical inechanics ? " which was decided in the negative. The meeting adjourned to February 12th, for the discussion of another question, and to take into further consideration the subject of forming a Lyceum. At this meeting, a proposition was made to form an association to be called the "Union Lyceum,” and another, to form one to be called the “ Mechanics' Lyceum," both of which were referred to the next meeting, which was voted to be held February 19th. The latter proposition prevailed at this meeting; and a committee was appointed to draft a constitution, to be reported at an adjourned meeting, February 25th.
The following persons were elected officers for the first season :-TIMOTHY CLAXTON, president; G. W. Ligut, secretary; JAMES COOPER, treasurer; Wu. S. DAMRELL and JOSEPH WIGUTMAN, curators.
At the first regular meeting of the Lyceum, a system of exercises was adopted, consisting of an elementary course of mechanical philosophy and geometry, interspersed with discussions of interesting questions.
The subjects of the lectures were treated upon by the members of the Lyceum, seven of them taking parts on the evenings of the lectures, and each one occupying about a quarter of an hour.
At a meeting held June 7th, (the same year,) the following subjects for lectures were adopted, for the second term; viz., architecture, political economy, botany, geology, natural history, astronomy, biography of practical men. The members were left to choose their own subjects for essays. At a subsequent meeting, it was voted that declamation should be added to the regular exercises of the lyceum, which was afterward found to increase the interest and useful. ness of the society.
About the year 1834, Mr. Holbrook left Boston, and for a few years occupied himself chiefly with an effort to introduce the lyceum system into the State of Pennsylvania. This was quite successful, and a large number of town and county lyceums were organized. During the course of these labors, Mr. Holbrook conceived a plan which illustrates the comprehensiveness of his views of what his favorite system could accomplish ; viz., that of a Universal Lyceum, to include national lyceums in all parts of the world. A list of officers was made out, who were invited to act, with Lord Brougham
as president, and was published in a small pamphlet, the “ First Quarterly Report,” together with a brief outline of the aims of the institution. Mr. Holbrook's labors in Pennsylvania were also, as his correspondence shows, of great use in promoting the cause of common schools in that State.
Mr. Holbrook appears already to have been some time contemplating the idea of Lyceum Villages; which, in one of his letters to his friend, Mr. S. W. Seton, of New York, he terms “the central wheel" of his system. During his innumerable journeys, he made some excursions in Ohio, and apparently labored with some results in that State. In 1837, having found a site, twelve miles south-west of Cleveland, Ohio, with the advantages of good water-power, and a quarry of stone suitable for grindstones, Mr. Holbrook founded there the Lyceum Village of Berea. The land occupied by this enterprise, five hundred acres, was vested in an incorporated board of trustees; houses, shops, and a school-house were erected, and a flourishing settlement soon established. Berea was to have been the first of a series of Lyceum Villages, with which Mr. Holbrook would have dotted the country; and which were intended to be centers for the residence of all persons interested in the Lyceum enterprise, for the practical exemplification of its principles in schools, whose teachers and pupils were to spend some portion of every day in manual labor, for the education of teachers, and for the diffusion of the Lyceum system throughout the country. Unfortunately, however, the enterprise, after a few years, came to a disastrous close, and was transferred into other hands, leaving Mr. Holbrook under a heavy load of debt, which crippled all his subsequent efforts, and ended that distinctive character which Berea had at first assumed. A second Lyceum Village was also projected, and partially organized, at Westchester, Ņ. Y.; the site being chosen with a view to ready co-operation with the efforts in progress in New York City.
We next find Mr. Holbrook established in New York City, where he was, as early as 1842, acting as central agent of his plan of School Exchanges, and where he occupied business-rooms in the building of the Trustees of the Public School Society, corner of Elm and Grand streets. This plan of exchanges formed a part of the original scheme of Lyceums, which were to exchange collections of minerals, &c., with each other, for their mutual instruction and advantage. As introduced, however, during his stay at New York, and afterward, the plan was intended to excite and maintain in the pupils of the schools of the country an interest in each other and in the study of the natural sciences, and to promote the collection of museums of natural and other objects in each school. This was to be done by means of