Tuesday, June 23, 2009

An Odd Find

So I went to a local library fundraising book sale. My husband, who usually looks for history, politics, or philosophy did not find a single book. I purchased 47(!) for $20 (it happened to be a 'bag day' where you buy a bag of books for $5). I am less picky and I have many more categories that I shop. I look for old books that could be considered etiquette or social manuals, educational books, children's books, picture books, how-to manuals for school or for kids to read on their own (Ah, someday!), foreign language, art, and music primers, science texts, parenting and family, home decorating (published within the last few years--always cheaper than buying a magazine at the store), and reference books.

I'll list my other finds eventually, but I really wanted to talk about a few volumes of a magazine I bought. I guess it's really a digest. It's title is The Popular Educator; The University in Your Home: An Authoritative Program of Self-Education--published every Wednesday. 57 Educational Features Serialized in 53 Weekly Issues.

I have issues No 37 (published 1938) through 42 and 49 through 54. These fairly thick 5" x 7" digests each have a little less than 100 pages each. From the cover of issue #37 (I placed the topic of that subject in parentheses):

This Issue Features Lectures For the Easy Self Instruction in:

  • Accountancy (Stock Issues)
  • American History (Plutocracy and Politics from Grant to McKinley)
  • Anthropology (Vegetable Products in Man's Dietary)
  • Archeology (Prehistoric Man in the New World)
  • Bible History (The Story of the Maccabees)
  • Biology (The Evolution of the Horse)
  • Botany (The Lowly Algae)
  • Business English (Style)
  • Drama (How the Actor Acquires His Technic)
  • Engineering (Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning)
  • English History (The Growth of the Power of the Crown)
  • English Language (The Study of the English Verb)
  • English Literature (Carlyle and Other Stylists)
  • Geography (The African Continent)
  • Greek (The Genitive Case in Greek Usage)
  • History, Ancient and Medieval (Emergence of the Western Kingdoms)
  • Interior Decorating (The Small Dwelling)
  • Italian (Adverbs and Irregular Verbs)
  • Journalism (The Journalist as Critic in Art and Letters)
  • Mnemonics (The Art of Memory Training)
  • Modern European History (Europe's Year of Revolutions)
  • Penmanship (Small Letter Formation)
  • Phonetics (Consonant Symbols in Phonetics)
  • Physical Geography (Landscape Features)
  • Physiology and Anatomy (Nervous System of the Human Body)
  • Politics (The British Cabinet)
  • Shorthand (Gregg) (Concluding Lecture on Gregg's System)
  • Social History (Diderot and His Encyclopedia)
  • Spanish (Vowel Changes in Verbs)
  • Zoology (Frogs and Toads)
How cool would it be to have a little bit of each of those topics arrive on your doorstep every week? Each of the topics is presented as a portion of a longer treatment of the topic. The topics change in each issue, too. Here are the listed topics in issue #38:

This Issue Features Lectures For the Easy Self Instruction in:

  • Aeronautics (Aircraft Flight Instruments)
  • Art and Architecture (Sculpture Without Prejudice)
  • Astronomy (How Distant Are the Stars?)
  • Biology (From Brute to Man)
  • Chemistry (Chemical Analysis by Acid and Alkali)
  • Drawing and Design (Drawing Circles and Tangents)
  • Economic Geography (The Baser Metals)
  • Economics (Economic Results of Increased Saving)
  • Engineering (Important Factors in the Use of Water Power)
  • English History (The Executive and the State)
  • English Literature (Masters of Criticism)
  • Eurythmics (Rhythmic Elements)
  • French (Irregular Verbs of the 2nd Conjugation)
  • Geography (Africa's Western Projection)
  • Geology (Lower Cretaceous of Comanchean Period)
  • German (Dependent Clauses)
  • Latin (Percentages and Fractions in Latin)
  • Law (Law and Religion Through the Ages)
  • Mathematics (Three-Dimensional Graphics)
  • Money (The Financial Crisis)
  • Music (Oldtime Musical Instruments)
  • Philology (Etymology of Place Names)
  • Philosophy (Problems of Ethical Philosophy)
  • Photography (Aquarium Pictures)
  • Physics (Magnetism in Physics)
  • Politics (King, Lords, and Commons)
  • Psychology (Dispositions and Mental Structure)
  • Shorthand (Pitman) (Final Lecture on Pitman's Shorthand)
  • Social History (The Patriarch of Ferney)
  • Writing and Rewriting (Paragraph Transition)
  • Zoology (Reptiles, Ancient and Modern)
I have only read a handful of the lectures. They are each short and cover the topic with some depth, but it feels vaguely superficial. Perhaps it's the 'just the facts, ma'am' approach. I think it also has to do with not reading the whole series. In looking at a briefly delimited article, the entire scope is completely missed. Though I do generally feel that each of these topics is treated in a survey fashion.

The digest is published under the auspices of The National Education Alliance and seems to be hold some fairly socially-liberal stances (of the day). A few of the history articles I read, along with some of the treatments of modern (at the time) issues, show a large liberal bias.

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