A Guide to the Mathematical Practice Books, ca. 1781-1853, 1869.
Collection Number SC #4046
A collection in the Special Collections of
Carrier Library, James Madison University
Processed by: Julia Merkel, January 2005
Preferred Citation: Mathematical Practice Books. SC #4046, Special Collections, Carrier Library, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA.
Physical Characteristics: Consists of two bound practice books, 12 3/4” x 8” and 13 ¼” x 8”.
Abstract: Consists of two bound and handwritten practice books for ascertaining weights, measures and other practical accountancy problems.
Scope and Content: Judging from binding, paper and handwriting, these mathematical practice books probably date from the late 18th to mid-19th centuries. The first concentrates on principles of accountancy and includes simple and compound interest, discounts, barter, loss & gain, fellowship or joint stock, and foreign and domestic exchange rates—all with practical applications and exercises.
The second book appears to have been used by several pupils. Names that appear within the pages and on the back end sheet are: Miss Emma Harrison, Miss Lucy S. Harrison Tenth Legion, Rockingham County, Va., William C. Harrison, and Mr. John Harrison with the date, March 1, 1853. One math problem cites the date, May 17, 1781 while a handwritten note tucked into the pages is inscribed with an invitation to a picnic and cotillion on May 20, 1869 at the residence of A. B. Bowman on Smith Creek. The names Bettie A. and David W. Harrison of Tenth Legion are written several times on the reverse. The books are decidedly American and specifically, Virginian as several examples indicate starting points as Baltimore, Philadelphia and an ending point at Richmond. Weights and measures, however, are given in English, Federal, and even Virginia currency. Subjects covered include: simple and compound addition, multiplication, long division, proportions, and integers. Practical applications include conversions from one measure or distance to another and calculating payments for mercer’s, draper’s, grocer’s, and milliner's bills among others.
Acquisition Information: Purchased at Green Valley Auctions, Inc., Mount Crawford, VA July 9, 2004 as lot #1059.