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BattledoreRichardson’s New Royal Battledore

1800-1850
Bates Collection

A “battledore” is a small booklet made from folded cardboard or heavy paper. Battledores replaced earlier hornbooks for teaching children to read and usually included the alphabet, a prayer or religious verse, and some illustrated vocabulary words. The word derives from the name for an early type of badminton paddle, which resembled the hornbooks from which battledores emerged.

Kellogg Geometry BookAlso in the early to mid-1800s, the Kellogg family of Hartford, famous print-makers at the time, published a series of elegantly illustrated instructional books for children. Some focused on teaching appropriate behavior and instilling in their readers the values and gender roles expected in conservative, family-focused Victorian America. Others used images of everyday life, some of which evoke the Hartford landscape itself, to creatively demonstrate mathematical concepts, as in this example from an illustrated geometry book.

The Connecticut Historical Society has an extensive collection of children’s books, textbooks, and children’s periodicals, including many early and rare publications from both Connecticut and elsewhere. 



Bottom left image: The Childs [sic] Pictorial Geometry, Hartford, CT and Berea, OH. E.B. & E.C. Kellogg, 1812. Bates Collection.