Esther Copp’s Spelling Book

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This spelling book was used by Esther Copp (b. 1754) when she was about 13 years old in Stonington, Connecticut. Literacy and spelling in the colonies was heavily slanted towards religious texts. Once children had learned their letters from the hornbook, they often graduated to a primer, psalter, Testament, and finally the Bible. The primer books often included rudimentary religious passages such as the Lord’s Prayer or catechism.
The Copp Collection contains about 150 books of early American imprint and shows a wide range of reading matter typical of a New England Puritan family living in a port town. Literacy was expected of many New Englanders, as Puritan doctrine required everyone to read the Bible. The abundance of multiple Bibles, psalms, hymnodies, sermons, and morality tales reflects the Copp’s religious beliefs. Other highlights of the library include the works of Shakespeare, almanacs, historical and political texts, and travel narratives.
The Copp Collection contains a variety of household objects that the Copp family of Connecticut used from around 1700 until the mid-1800s. Part of the Puritan Great Migration from England to Boston, the family eventually made their home in New London County, Connecticut, where their textiles, clothes, utensils, ceramics, books, bibles, and letters provide a vivid picture of daily life. More of the collection from the Division of Home and Community Life can be viewed by searching accession number 28810.
Currently not on view
associated person
Copp, Esther
overall: 5 1/2 in x 3 1/4 in x 5/8 in; 13.97 cm x 8.255 cm x 1.5875 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
Gift of John Brenton Copp
See more items in
Home and Community Life: Domestic Life
Cultures & Communities
Copp Collection
Data Source
National Museum of American History


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