Cipher Books in the Southern Historical Collection

by Doar, Ashley K.

Abstract (Summary)
The Southern Historical Collection (SHC) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill holds over 15 million manuscript items, thousands of which have not been viewed by researchers since they were placed on the shelves. Some of these items are eighteenth and nineteenth century American cipher books, bound manuscript books illustrating rules and examples of mathematical calculations. The SHC cares for over 50 cipher books, some of which represent the author's artistic talent as well as his or her abilities in arithmetic.

The purpose of this paper is to examine the potential research value these unknown manuscripts contain by providing a history of education during the time period, and a brief description of each manuscript. Some more ornate books have accompanying images to display the intricacies and care in creating these mathematical workbooks. Subject areas which may benefit from further study of cipher books include early American education, history of the teaching of mathematics, gender roles in colonial education, and cultural influences of education. The paper can be used as a guide to the cipher book collection.

Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:David Carr

School:University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

School Location:USA - North Carolina

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:education colonial united states history mathematics problems exercises etc 19th century study and teaching


Date of Publication:04/07/2006

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