Slavery, market censorship and US antebellum schoolbook publishing

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This paper explores the representation and non-representation of slavery in US school textbooks from the late eighteenth century to the beginning of the US Civil War. It reviews the major readers, almost none of which mentioned slavery despite the anti-slavery sentiments of many textbook editors. The few readers that addressed slavery did so in limited terms and were not popular. Despite this, a myth arose in the US southern states that the treatment of slavery in school readers contributed significantly to the start of the Civil War and drove post-war textbook purchasing in those states. A concluding section considers the role of market censorship in shaping representation of slavery in early schoolbooks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)207-223
Number of pages17
JournalHistory of Education
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2022


  • Educational publishing
  • United States
  • censorship
  • schoolbooks
  • slavery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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