You are here: Home > This Month's Highlight > 2013 Archive > July 2013: How to Learn Your ABC, in the 18th Century

July 2013: How to Learn Your ABC, in the 18th Century

Alphabet card - letter 'A'

Even before synthetic phonics, teachers were well aware that young children would benefit from some sort of aid for learning their letters and words.

In the 17th century, printing had offered the opportunity to mass produce the first educational primers. These were typically a wooden board with a handle for holding, where the board would be overlaid with a single page of print and then sealed. That single page usually included – next to the Lord’s Prayer – an alphabet illustrated by words starting with the relevant letter.

This month’s highlight is the 18th century development of those first primer boards: alphabet cards. This particularly fine set is even printed in colour.

As our title suggests, the alphabet card used rhyme as its teaching aid. The cards in our set here also have the additional benefit of a moral pointer.  For the letter 'A', a parents’ love is likened to spiritual virtue. This was presumably some small consolation to children forced to learn their cards.

Though we think this set came from Windsor, the identity of its owners is unknown. All that we have are the names ‘Katherine and Helen’ inscribed on the envelope that holds the cards.

Hopefully Katherine and Helen made good use of them.


Leave a Comment

Fields marked with a * are required

0 response(s) so far…


Latest News
Stocktake and Christmas closure dates announced
Dates now available for when we will be closed this year
Distance Survey 2017 Results
BRO does very well in the latest survey of distance users
Visitor Survey 2016 Results
The results of the UK Visitor Survey 2016 are now available
We're Accredited!
The BRO is now an Accredited Archive Service
10,000th collection received at the BRO
The Berkshire Record Office celebrates receiving its 10,000th accession
Oscar Wilde and Reading Gaol online exhibition
New online gallery showcases Oscar Wilde and Reading prison

Latest Galleries

Oscar Wilde and Reading Gaol

Oscar Wilde and Reading Gaol
Biographies of Wilde and Berkshire's Victorian prison

Small Objects of Power

Small Objects of Power
An Exhibition about Medieval Seals

Enemies of the State

Enemies of the State
Irish Patriots in Reading Gaol

The Berkshire Echo

The Berkshire Echo 84
July 2018: Coleshill House and Estate - Conserving Coleshill - New to the Arc...