The American Spelling Book

The American Spelling Book

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This edition of Noah Webster’s The American Spelling Book was published by Holbrook and Fessenden of Brattleborough (now Brattleboro), Vermont in 1821. Webster’s The American Spelling Book was commonly known as the “blue backed speller” due to its blue cover, and was one of the most popular spelling books since its first publication in 1783. The speller was followed by a book on grammar in 1784 and a reader in 1785. Webster’s goal was to divorce the American educational system from its British roots, and accordingly his speller substituted many British spellings for American variants, dropping extra letters like “u” and “e” to simplify the language.
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
Object Name
overall: 4 3/8 in x 6 3/4 in x 3/4 in; 11.1125 cm x 17.145 cm x 1.905 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
Gift of John Brenton Copp
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Cultural and Community Life: Domestic Life
Cultures & Communities
Copp Collection
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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