Source Readers in American History

This excellent series of history readers was edited by Albert Bushnell Hart (1854-1943).

No. 1: Colonial Children (c. 1901, corrected printing 1902)

No. 2: Camps and Firesides of the Revolution (c. 1902)

No. 3: How Our Grandfathers Lived (c. 1902, reprinted 1971)

No. 4: The Romance of the Civil War (c. 1903)

No. 5: In Our Times (c.

Camps and Firesides of the Revolution introduced me to this series! It was one of the most enjoyable, interesting, and informative history books I have ever read--and it put me on a quest to own all of the books in this series! (I am still looking for volume 5; it is rare.)

As the name of the series suggests, these books reproduce historical writings for young readers. When written, they were directed at 10-12 year olds, but I have greatly enjoyed reading our book and my husband and children have appreciated the excerpts I have read aloud.

From the Preface:

"The second volume of Source-Readers is, like the first, wholly made up of pieces written at the time of the events and incidents here described. The language is modernized [remember, these words were written in 1901] wherever necessary, and many unfamiliar words have been replaced by such as are more familiar to children; the spelling also has been brought to the reader's standard, except in a few cases where the old form seemed quaint and not likely to affect a child's habits of writing. Nothing has anywhere been added for spice or for the sake of making a good story. From a careful reading of these extracts, and of many more for which room could not be found, I feel sure that the actual deeds, experiences, and life of our ancestors were in themselves so interesting, often so romantic, that the records of them need no recasting. The pieces are, of course, not all of equal literary merit; but I have tried to exclude all writers who did not express themselves in good, reasonably straightforward English, such as cannot harm the growing style of children."--Albert Bushnell Hart

From the Introduction for Teachers, by Mabel Hill

"This Source Reader is intended to serve a twofold purpose. The book in the first place is a Reader, answering the demands of modern reading-books. Its literary flavor, its strong phraseology, its wholesome vocabulary, and its diversity in style combine to give it a character stamped with the hallmark of good English.

"In the second place, the material is so chosen that the volume may be used in correlation with any course in historical study which includes the late colonial and revolutionary periods, and which deals with the subject in an elementary manner in the classes of graded grammar schools. Moreover, as the sketches, for the most part anecdotal or narrative, are the original expressions of chief actors or eyewitnesses of the scenes described, the book forms a small library of source material, thereby solving in part the problem of how to make possible some use of first-hand material in the public schools."--Mabel Hill

The book is illustrated with photographic reproductions and line drawings. Authors include not only Washington, Franklin, and Jefferson but unknown farmers and housewives. The book pictures in vivid detail not only major events of the times, but also opens before our eyes the fascinating details of daily life.

I cannot recommend these highly enough. For history lovers from children to adults, they are worth the search! Reading a book like this is like taking a sneak peek into 100 personal diaries of the period.

Mr. Hart was a professor at Harvard and a prominent historian of his day. He also edited and wrote over 100 adult history books.

Here are just a few of them:

American History Told by Contemporaries, edited; five volumes: I. Era of Colonization, 1492-1689; II. Building of the Republic, 1689-1783; III. National Expansion, 1783-1845; IV. Welding of the Nation, 1845-1900; V. Twentieth Century United States, 1900-1929

Commonwealth History of Massachusetts (1927, 1966); five volumes: I. Colony of Massachusetts Bay, 1605-1689; II. Province of Massachusetts, 1689-1775; III. Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 1775-1820; IV. Nineteenth Century Massachusetts, 1820-1889; V. Twentieth Century Massachusetts, 1889-1930

Epochs of American History, two volumes, 1897

Source Book of American History for Schools and Readers, (1899?)

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