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American history is full of surprising and interesting facts that would seem funny and even strange in today’s world. The United States educational system went through a lot of changes over the course of history in order to become what it is today. We’re going to take a short stroll down the river of time and share some astonishing stories regarding the 18th-century education in the United States of America. 

College for the priests

In the 18th century, higher education was not as affordable as it is today, actually, it was reserved for the priests and it vastly focused on religion than science. The first colleges were founded by priests, like Harvard College which later became Harvard University. What’s interesting about Harvard is that it got its name after John Harvard who was an English minister that served in America. After his death, John Harvard left a significant amount of money and books to the College, a gesture that made the College founders rename the institution after the great benefactor. Harvard and other higher schools at the time served as institutions were priest attained the higher education that they would later pass on to regular people, well the richest among the regular people to be exact.

Women had limited access to education

Imagine being a woman in the 18th century, it's not all ballrooms and fancy dinners, most women in those days were considered far less equal to their male counterparts. In fact, women had such a difficult time getting any education that it was even impossible to attend school. Rather, those women in the upper class had a homeschooling option where they would learn how to read, but not how to write. The reading alone was available simply so that women could read the Bible and short Bible stories to children. Writing was not considered appropriate or necessary for women at the time, and there were no writing services like AssignmentMasters and others that could help the women, their husbands and fathers were the ones that handled the skill of writing.

The first M.D. degree

Being a young nation, America had to work on establishing all forms of education in order to persevere as a country. In 1765 the first Medical School at the College of Philadelphia started training the first doctors of medicine. The first M.D. degree came to pass in the 1770 and since then other Colleges founded Medical schools which ended the era of apprenticeship and traveling to Scotland in order to get an education in the field of medicine.

The first public library

The 18th century was a period of time when books were a rare commodity and the printed books were available only to the richest of people. Although there were several private libraries, such as the library of the Harvard College which contained several hundreds of books, most of which were left to the institution by John Harvard, there was a need for a public library. Benjamin Franklin was one of the first people that realized the significance of public libraries and decided to found The Library Company of Philadelphia in 1731.

Franklin was not alone in this endeavor, he founded the library with a group of his friends. Moreover, Benjamin Franklin was so devoted to the enlightenment of the American nation in the 18th century, it was he who first introduced nonreligious subjects to schools. Thanks to him, people had access to books, but they’ve also had access to math, languages, accounting, and agriculture.

The birth of Common schools

Common schools were institutions that allowed local children to acquire secondary education. The Common schools had one teacher that held a class to children of all ages, with the curriculum heavily concerning religion, family values, morals, etc. The schools also taught reading, writing, and arithmetic, however, it’s only when Horace Mann led the education reform in the early 19th century that children were able to acquire more secular knowledge.

The Common schools, although public in their nature, were not free. Local benefactors, as well as the families of the children which attended the school, had to pay a certain tuition. Moreover, since the schools were not standardized at the time, there were different variations of texts that kids learned from. This made reading and writing very difficult because, depending on the teacher, children were taught to read or write differently. It was when Noah Webster published his textbook named “The American Spelling Book” that children had access to standardized learning of reading and writing, as well as grammar. This textbook was so popular that it continued to print and counts more than 100 million sold copies.


The eighteen century was the breaking point between the darkness and the enlightenment of the society. It’s the time when education was reserved only for the selected few, while the rest of the community had to settle for whatever they might get. Thanks to people who believed in the equality of all people no matter how rich they are or what gender they might be the 18th century became the turning point which led America towards a bright future.