**Marbled cover of
Ebenezer Bliss' Math
Copybook **

Book measures approx 13" x
9"

**Ebenezer Bliss-
Longmeadow**

**
**

These two copybooks from
the archives of the
Longmeadow Historical
Society are true marvels of
“old math.” One c. 1810
belonged to Ebenezer Bliss
(1795-1868) and the other
dated 1806 belonging to
Ethan Ely (1791-1875) - both
of Longmeadow. The beautiful
artistry of the penmanship
aside, young Mr. Bliss and
young Mr. Ely used their
copybooks to collect and
demonstrate their
understanding of
mathematical concepts that
must have been taught in
their Longmeadow District
Schools in the first decade
of the 19th century. They
begin simply enough with
addition - defining the
concept and giving
examples. Then they move
through subtraction,
multiplication, division.
They then move onto applying
these techniques to “Federal
Money.” This is followed by
the measurement terms and
related math of a variety of
items such as Time, Land,
Solids, Wine, Bee & Ale, and
Cloth. They progress
through “Vulgar Fractions”
and Decimals and into the
important business of
calculating Interest and
even the math of Bartering.
No algebra or calculus is
included - just the type of
math that would benefit the
new nation’s farmers and
merchants and other ordinary
citizens.

**"Addition is the
putting together of **

several smaller numbers into
one larger number"

[click image to
enlarge]

**Definitions and
Examples of Simple
Subtraction and Simple
Multiplication**

[click image to
enlarge]

**Measurement Work
**

[click image to
enlarge]

**Vulgar Fractions ...
indeed!**

[click image to
enlarge]

**Work with Federal
Money math **

[click image to
enlarge]

Both copybooks beautifully
display the firm grasp each
scholar had on the
material. They must have
been proud of their work to
save these paper mementos of
their school days.

The word problems in Bliss’
book are striking reminders
of the pride the nation felt
in its recent triumph over
the British: “General
Washington was born in
1732. What is his age in
1787” (answer: 55 Ans). It
is followed by “The Massacre
at boston (sic) by the
British Troops happened
March 5th 1770 and the
Battle of lexington (sic)
April 19th. How long
between April 19th 1775
March 5th 1770” (answer: 5yr
1m 15d)

**
General Washington example
from Ebenezer Bliss' book
**

**Revolutionary War
timeline example from
Ebenezer Bliss' book
**

The language and
organization of both books
indicates that they are
modeled on a popular Math
textbook of the time called,
“ Arithmetick, Both in
Theory and Practice” by John
Hill. The preface of the
book proclaims, “It appears
to me, upon the Perusal of
it, to be a curious piece:
‘Tis clean, methodical, and
handsomely dressed: so
plain, that the dullest
person may learn by it; and
so compleat, that he need
learn no more.”

We hope you enjoy a peek
into these early 19th
century school day relics
from our archives. Then
close them up, put away your
pencils and enjoy a
wonderful math-free summer
vacation!