School Slate Frame Patented by Daniel W. Niles, 1869

School Slate Frame Patented by Daniel W. Niles, 1869

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Usage conditions apply
This slate frame was patented by Daniel W. Niles on January 26, 1869. It was issued patent number 86,177. The slate is surrounded by educational designs the student could copy. The didactic portion of the slate frame is lithographed with days of the week and months of the year, numbers 1 through 20 and the Roman numeral equivalents, words that begin with an example in the alphabet, shapes for copying, and images in the corners such as the patriotic depictions of the Washington Elm and Mt. Vernon. It included red fabric remnants referred in the patent specifications as "a channel or groove...for wood, paper or material or wood to protect both the edge of the frame and the desk or table where the slate is placed." Fabric or yarn was commonly applied at an extra cost as a feature to strive for a quieter or "noiseless" classroom but also helped to protect the corner joints of the frames. Slates were used in classrooms from the colonial period through the early 20th Century when paper and pen became more affordable. Country school classrooms continued to use slates for repetitive math activities until the mid-20th century for the elementary grades, saving use of paper for examinations and longer language arts assignments. More recently there has been an introduction of electronic slates for math assignments or the use of tablets in classrooms.
Object Name
date made
place made
United States: Massachusetts, Cambridgeport
United States: Massachusetts, Cambridgeport
Physical Description
wood (overall material)
fabric (overall material)
paper (overall material)
mineral (overall material)
overall: 27 cm x 22 cm x.9 cm; 10 5/8 in x 8 21/32 in x 11/32 in
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
patent number
Credit Line
Gift of Dr. Richard Lodish American School Collection
See more items in
Cultural and Community Life: Education
Many Voices, One Nation
Many Voices, One Nation
Exhibition Location
National Museum of American History
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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