William Holmes McGuffey


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born in Pennsylvania, was educated in rural schools and was thought to be a prodigy because of his remarkable memorization. He graduated from Washington and Jefferson College (1826), taught school in Kentucky, and became professor of languages, philosophy, and philology at Miami University (Oxford, Ohio, 1826–36), president of Cincinnati College (1836–39) and Ohio University (1839–43), and professor at Woodward College, Cincinnati (1843–45), and the University of Virginia (1845–73). While at Miami, he began to compile his Eclectic Readers, six schoolbooks (1836–57) that combined literary lessons, obvious moral teachings, and carefully selected extracts from great English writers. Their estimated sales totaled 122,000,000 copies, and their constant use in mid-19th-century schools had a profound effect upon the moral and cultural shaping of the American mind.

Subjects: Literature.

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