What did English schoolchildren learn about history in the first age of mass politics and compulsory schooling? Thanks to recent scholarship, this is a question to which we can now give some sort of answer. Peter Yeandle’s book is concerned not so much with formal history lessons—since these were scarce outside the small world of secondary education—but rather with the history which children studied at elementary school. It therefore begins with the introduction of compulsory elementary education in 1870. Its real starting point, however, is the promulgation of the 1882 Education Code, by which schools were required to teach literacy through a range of ‘reading books’, one-third of which were to be historical. After this, history had a central place on the elementary curriculum, and Yeandle’s book charts the kinds of history that children imbibed, mainly through reading-books, in the ensuing decades....

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