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This article is from the Encyclopedia of North Carolina edited by William S. Powell. Copyright © 2006 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

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North Carolina Reader

by Edwin H. Mammen, 2006

The North Carolina Reader, published in 1851 by Calvin H. Wiley, the state's first superintendent of public schools, was the first in a series of textbooks prepared for use in the public school system. The book was "a work designed to familiarize the minds of the young with the character, history, and resources of their own well-favored father-land." It contained a brief history of the discovery, settlement, and progress of the state; political and oratorical exercises, some written by North Carolinians; and chronological and historical tables.Entries from the 1851 edition of the North Carolina Reader. North Carolina Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Library.

Wiley published the Reader at his own expense. Upon becoming the superintendent of public schools in 1853, he disposed of his copyright, sold all copies and the plates of the book at cost, and refused to accept further remuneration for his work, which became a standard school text. Wiley turned over his textbook work to a University of North Carolina professor, who edited two additional volumes in the series.


Guion G. Johnson, Ante-Bellum North Carolina: A Social History (1937).

Additional Resources:

Wiley, C. H. The North-Carolina Reader: Containing a history and description of North-Carolina, selections in prose and verse, many of them by eminent citizens of the state, historical and chronological tables, and a variety of miscellaneous information and statistics. Philadephia: Lippincott, Grambo & Co. 1851.  (accessed August 20, 2012).

"Calvin H. Wiley 1819-1887." North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program. (accessed August 20, 2012).

Jarrett, Calvin D. “Calvin H. Wiley: Southern Education Leader.” Peabody Journal of Education 41. No. 5. March 1994. p. 276-288. (accessed August 20, 2012).

Image Credits:

Entries from the 1851 edition of the North Carolina Reader. North Carolina Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Library.


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