NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Back to results
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
Direct linkDirect link
ERIC Number: EJ1234216
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2017-May
Pages: 26
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0018-2680
Mathematics and Mourning: Textbook Burial and Student Culture before and after the Civil War, 1853-1880
Fiss, Andrew
History of Education Quarterly, v57 n2 p221-246 May 2017
In nineteenth-century America, students buried their mathematics books. This practice consistently celebrated the milestone of passing through collegiate mathematics, yet it changed due to national events. This article considers the case of Bowdoin College, where students buried their books differently before and after the Civil War. Antebellum, they observed a complex "Burial of Calculus" with songs, parades, and mock prayers. Postbellum, students personified their books as a woman, placing stones marked "Anna" on the textbooks'graves. Using archival investigations of students' pamphlets and textbooks, this paper argues that these changes resulted from the war's effects on education as well as changing attitudes toward death. Both the antebellum and postbellum rituals communicated understandings of mathematics and academic achievement, as connected through a mock funeral ritual. Through investigating these connections, this paper asserts the importance of student practices for our understanding of Civil War era education.
Cambridge University Press. 100 Brook Hill Drive, West Nyack, NY 10994. Tel: 800-872-7423; Tel: 845-353-7500; Fax: 845-353-4141; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Maine