An astronomical and geographical catechism. For the use of children.
Arranged as a series of questions and answers designed to be memorized and recited by rote, this popular “catechism” sheds light on the astronomical and geographical knowledge deemed important for young Americans in the 1790s—when there were seven planets (one of which was named “Herschel”), fifteen United States, and the nation’s western boundary was defined by the Mississippi River. The author, Caleb Bingham was a schoolmaster at Moor’s Indian Charity School (which became Dartmouth College), as well as at a private girls’ school in Boston. This copy bears the signature of Cornelia Arnold, likely the daughter of Welcome Arnold, a prominent Providence merchant whose business records are also held by the Library. Cornelia would have been about 11 years old in 1796, the date of the inscription.