In the year 1823, expectations were remarkably different than today, both for preparation to enter Dartmouth College and the yearly curriculum. In 1823, for admission into the Freshman class, it is required that the candidates be well versed in the grammar of the English, Latin, and Greek languages, in Virgil, Cicero’s Select Orations, Sallust, the Greek Testament, Dalzel’s Collectanea Graeca Minora, Latin and Greek Prosody, Arithmetic, Ancient and Modern Geography, and that he be able accurately to translate English into Latin.
The course of instructions and study for undergraduates is as follows:
For Freshmen.–Livy, 5 books–Horace’s Odes—Cicero de Oratore, 2 books–in Dalzel’s Collect. Graeca Majora, Herodotus, Xenophon’s History, Homer, Hesiod, OElianus, Polyenus and Theophrastus–Adam’s Roman Antiquities–Tytler’s Ancient History–Walker’s Rhetorical Grammar–Review of Geography and Arithmetic–Algebra.
Sophomores.–Horace finished–De Oratore finished–in Majora, Thucydides, Plato, Isocrates, AEschines, Demosthenes, Xenophon’s Philosophy, Dionysius, Longinus, Aristotle–Excerpta Latica–Tytler’s Modern History—Hedge’s Elements of Logic—Blair’s Rhetoric, 2 vols.–Euclid’s Elements of Geometry–Trigonometry–Mensuration of Heights and Distances, Superficies and Solids–Surveying–Navigation–Gauging and Dialling.
Juniors.–Tacitus, 5 books–Majora finished–Conic Sections–Chemistry–Enfield’s Natural Philosophy and Astronomy—Paley’s Natural Theology—Paley’s Moral and Political Philosophy.
Seniors.–Locke’s Essay on the Human Understanding—Edwards on the Will—Stewart’s Philosophy of the Human Mind, 2 vols.–Burlemaqui on Natural and Political Law—Paley’s Evidences of the Christian Religion—Butler’s Analogy of Religion to the Constitution and Course of Nature—The Federalist.
—from page 33, Gazetteer of the State of New Hampshire, by John Farmer and Jacob B. Moore; Other engravings by Abel Bowen. 1823
Wow, that is amazing! Of course, it meant only the elite who went to elite prep schools could get into schools like Dartmouth. You can be sure that a one room schoolhouse in a rural area would not have been teaching Latin and Greek or Cicero,
And that curriculum! Can you imagine making today’s college students read those works? Having taught law students for many years, I can tell you that even law students wouldn’t have the discipline or attention span to read all that philosophy. Everyone today wants a “practical” approach to education and materials delivered in small bites/bytes.
I was really surprised when I discovered that information, and obviously so much so that I needed to share. Back then, apparently they felt that in order to be truly educated you needed a “classical education,” one that drew from the ancient and historical texts. Many of the students who entered Dartmouth would have found mentors, someone in their town and possibly a minister to help them with their studies to qualify. As always thanks for reading and commenting, Amy.