Faculty Publications and Presentations

Publication Date

September 2008

Document Type



Published in The Encyclopedia of Educational Reform and Dissent by SAGE Publications in 2009.


For more than 150 years the New England Primer, often called “The Little Bible of New England,” served as the principal textbook for millions of colonists and early American citizens. First compiled and published circa 1688 by Benjamin Harris, a British journalist who emigrated to Boston, it gained popularity not only in New England but also throughout colonial America and parts of Great Britain with estimates of copies sold from six to eight million by 1830. Less than a hundred pages in length, this early textbook proved significant in both reflecting the norms of Puritan culture and propagating those norms into early American thought.