Mathematical Charts and TablesCharts and Tables for Instruction
Charts and Tables for Instruction
Ancient Babylonian scribes learned to record numerical tables on clay tablets. If a schoolroom or library burned, the tablets baked hard, and might survive for millennia. Several such tablets are preserved in libraries today, and the replica of one of these at the Smithsonian reminds us of the long history of these objects.
In the 19th century, new European ideas about teaching arithmetic to very young children reached the United States. In 1831, the Boston firm of Munroe & Francis published a series of some fifty “infant school cards,” designed to teach subjects ranging from arithmetic to reading to natural history. Teachers were to use the arithmetic cards in conjunction with another piece of apparatus newly introduced in Western Europe and then in the United States, the teaching abacus or numeral frame.
Charts also were used to teach about weights and measures. In the wake of the French Revolution of 1789, the French developed an entirely new system of measuring distance, area, volume, temperature, and even time. By the 1860s, several European countries had adopted a revised version of this metric system, and metric weights and measures were legalized in the United States. An organization known as the American Metric Bureau began to distribute metric demonstration apparatus for the classroom. In the 1890s, the American Metric Bureau began to sell a metric chart for educational use.
Within the decade, the metric system was but one of several topics illustrated in a set of charts copyrighted by R. O. Evans of Chicago. Evans’ set of twenty charts illustrated such wide ranging topics as counting and writing numbers, arithmetic operations, fractions, the area of surfaces and the volumes of solid, business methods, and surveying.
In the first half of the 20th century, machines that could do ordinary arithmetic became common in the store and the office, and inexpensive adders were available for consumers. In the years following World War II, educators placed new emphasis on understanding the principles underlying arithmetic. Charts such as number lines sold for classroom use.
"Mathematical Charts and Tables - Charts and Tables for Instruction" showing 1 items.
- In the wake of the Revolution of 1789, French scientists developed a new system of weights and measures known in English-speaking countries as the metric system. A handful of early 19th-century American mathematics textbooks discussed metric measurements. In the 1860s, metric measures were legalized in the United States, although they were not mandatory. A few advocates of the new system, most notably the distinguished librarian Melville Dewey, joined together to form the American Metrological Society and to advocate the use of metric measures. This chart was prepared by the Society for classroom use.
- The tan paper chart shows a meter length divided into decimeters, centimeters, and millimeters. It also shows a liter container and a block 1,000 cubic centimeters in size. It gives the value in United States currency of silver coins weighing from 1 gram to 1000 grams. A mark at the bottom front of the chart reads: Copies of this chart will be mailed on receipt of ten cents in postage stamps. (/) ADDRESS AMERICAN METROLOGICAL SOCIETY, 41 EAST 49TH ST., N.Y. CITY.
- Science magazine noted publication of the chart in 1891, which is used as the approximate date of the object. This example was found uncatalogued in the collections of the Smithsonian Institution Libraries.
- Currently not on view
- date made
- ca 1891
- American Metrological Society
- ID Number
- catalog number
- nonaccession number
- Data Source
- National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center