Mathematical Practice Books, 1781-1869

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Descriptive Summary


Repository: Special Collections, Carrier Library, James Madison University

Title: Mathematical Practice Books, 1781-1869

Collection No.: SC 0173
Creator: Unknown

Extent: 1 box; .2 cubic feet

Language: English

Abstract: Consists of two bound and handwritten practice books for ascertaining weights, measures, and other practical accountancy problems.


Administrative Information

Access Restrictions: Collection is open for research. Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection. Please contact Research Services staff before visiting the James Madison University Special Collections Library to use this collection.

Use Restrictions: The copyright interests in this collection have been transferred to the James Madison University Special Collection Library. For more information, contact the Special Collections Library Reference Desk (

Preferred Citation: [identification of item], [box #, folder #], Mathematical Practice Books, 1781-1869, SC 0173, Special Collections, Carrier Library, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA

Acquisition Information: Purchased at Green Valley Auctions, Inc., Mount Crawford, Virginia, July 9, 2004 as lot #1059
Processing Information: In order to streamline the process of applying collection numbers, Special Collections staff completed a large-scale renumbering campaign in 2017-2018. This collection was previously cataloged as SC 4046.

Bio/Historical Note:

Judging from binding, paper and handwriting, these mathematical practice books probably date from the late eighteenth to mid-nineteenth centuries. Names that appear within the pages and on the back end sheet are: Miss Emma Harrison; Miss Lucy S. Harrison, Tenth Legion, Rockingham County, Virginia; 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.

Scope and Content:

The first book 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. 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 mercers, drapers, grocers, and milliners bills among others.


The collection is arranged in one box with each book foldered individually in a four-flap enclosure.


Folder Title
Box : Folder
Mathematical Practice Book 1, undated
Mathematical Practice Book 2, undated

Compiled by: Julia Merkel, January 2005