The National First Reader or Word Builder, 1860 edition by Richard G. Parker and J Madison Watson


This textbook claims to follow a new and innovative teaching approach. Instead of introducing all the letters of the alphabet, each chapter concentrates on a single letter and its pronunciation. The first section starts with monosyllabic words and then progresses from there. The 1860 Revised Edition of 128 pages contains numerous black and white illustrations that refer to the mostly bucolic storylines presented in each chapter.

The book is covered with a brown and white fabric with a vertical striped pattern and secured with white threads. The series was meant as competition for the popular McGuffey Readers and the Webster Blue Back Speller, combining elements of each with more illustrations than both. The book was written by Richard Green Parker and James Madison Watson and illustrated by John William Orr.

Author Richard Green Parker was born December 26, 1708 in Boston, the son of Episcopal clergyman Samuel Parker, he graduated Harvard in 1817 and became an educator and author. He was a grammar schoolteacher, owned a private school and became a prolific author of textbooks. He died September 20, 1869.

James Madison Watson was born in Onondaga County, New York, February 8, 1827. and educated in public schools before he was admitted to the bar in Syracuse, NY. He was employed by Barnes publishing and worked with Parker on the National Reader and Speller series from 1853-1855 and became an educator in New York and New Jersey. In 1871, he became president of the board of Education for Elizabeth, NJ and later became involved in both the Temperance Movement and in Physical Education Training. He died September 29, 1900, in Essex County, NJ.

John William Orr (1815-1887) was an Irish American wood engraver and illustrator who became active in 1830. He owned his own printing and engraving business. He was born in Ireland and died in Jersey City, New Jersey

The Parker & Watson's Series, No. 2 was published by A.S. Barnes & Company of New York. Alfred Smith Barnes established the A.S. Barnes & Co. in New York City in 1865. Barnes successfully published books aimed at the educational market including mathematical and historical texts. The company also published Watson’s Readers, Davies’ Arithmetic, Monteith’s Geography, and the National Series of Standard Science Books. The family company continued into I958, when A. S. Barnes was acquired by Thomas Yoseloff, who merged his namesake publishing company into Barnes as an imprint.

Date Made: 1860

Maker: A. S. Barnes & Co.

Location: Currently not on view

Place Made: United States: New York, New York

See more items in: Home and Community Life: Education


Exhibition Location:

Credit Line: Gift of Rosetta Marantz Cohen

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: 2018.0189.02Accession Number: 2018.0189Catalog Number: 2018.0189.02

Object Name: book

Physical Description: paper (overall material)ink (overall material)wood (overall material)fabric (overall material)Measurements: overall: 7 in x 4 3/4 in x 1/2 in; 17.78 cm x 12.065 cm x 1.27 cm


Record Id: nmah_1967853

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