“McGuffey’s Eclectic Readers” and their Continuing Influence on American Education: A Historical Analysis of the Secondary Literature

By Jacqueline Corinth.

Published by The International Journal of the Book

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

William Holmes McGuffey’s influence on American education is both unsurpassed and undisputed. He, along with his brother Alexander, categorically created the most popular American schoolbooks in the 19th century. McGuffey’s Eclectic Readers’ prominence in the American classroom lasted until the 1920’s, almost a century’s time. After a period of dormancy, the Readers reemerged as a symbol of the back-to-basics educational movement of the later part of the 20th century. Their rigor and proven educational history were continually referenced in newspaper commentaries and op-eds in the 1980’s. This begs the question: are McGuffey’s Eclectic Readers still relevant in the 21st century, or do they survive simply as nostalgic artifacts from an earlier time? This paper examines the available secondary literature and traces the Readers’s evolution through history in an attempt to answer the question.

Keywords: McGuffey, McGuffey’s Eclectic Readers, Textbooks, History, United States, Education

International Journal of the Book, Volume 6, Issue 1, pp.77-82. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 536.544KB).

Jacqueline Corinth

Librarian, Public Services, Robert Morris University, Moon Township, PA, USA

Jacqueline Corinth has a Master’s of Science Degree in Library and Information Science from Long Island University and is pursuing a Ph.D. in Instructional Management and Leadership at Robert Morris University. Currently, she is a Associate Professor of Learning Resources and Public Services Librarian at Robert Morris University. Her research interests include library science, education history, and children’s literature.


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