Primary Source Annotation on Horace Mann’s Speech to the Board of Education

Third Annual Report of the Board of Education Together with the Third Annual Report of

the Secretary of the Board. Boston: Dutton and Wentworth, State Printers, 1840, p. 35, 93-100.

“It has been frequently remarked by observing men, that towns, in which good libraries have been established, show a population of intelligence, superior to that of towns where none has existed. In a number of towns, recent attempts to establish libraries for grown people have utterly failed. The men and women, not having acquired a taste for useful reading when children, have lost it for life. Let the same course be followed in regard to the present children, and time is not more certain to bring the day, when they shall be men and women, than it is to bring the same feelings of indifference towards mental improvement. On the other hand, I have never heard of a well selected library for children, which has failed from their want of interest in it.”

Horace Mann is the author of the Third Annual Report of the Board of Education Together with the Third Annual Report of the Secretary of the Board, he is known as the Father of Public Education because he inspired the Public Education Reform and wanted the children of America to be well educated.  Horace Mann wrote this speech to the Board of Education in order to tell them about what he saw during his third year of touring schools and libraries in Massachusetts.  Horace Mann’s speech to the Board of Education is very trustworthy because it is primarily based on fact and what he experienced during his tours of Massachusetts ‘schools and libraries.  When this document was produced, it was evident that Horace Mann had gained new knowledge from his tours and was determined to share it and what needed to be changed.  The document teaches us that through observations of a city, Horace Mann was able to see what needed to be executed and then submit to the Board of Education in order for beneficial changes to occur.  In the passage above, Mann talks about how the citizens of towns that contain libraries are more intelligent to towns that lack a library.  Mann wants to prove to the Board of Education that libraries need to be put in towns in order for the children to develop a desire for reading that will grow as they go through life.  Mann explains that if one does not develop a taste for reading when they are children, they will never develop one which will negatively affect their desire for mental improvement.  The limits of this document are that it is only based on Mann’s experiences and not anyone else’s.  In order to attain a full understanding of Massachusetts’ stance on education during the 19th century, it would be beneficial to learn about other people’s experiences.   Ultimately, Mann is trying to convince the Board of Education that libraries need to be in every town in order for people to create a desire to read and have motivation to improve mentally.