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The First U.S. History Textbooks: Constructing and Disseminating the American Tale in the Nineteenth Century

Barry Joyce
Published on: August 1, 2015

This book analyzes the common narrative residing in American History textbooks published in the first half of the 19th century. That story, what the author identifies as the American “creation” or “origins” narrative, is simultaneously examined as both historic and “mythic” in composition. It offers a fresh, multidisciplinary perspective on an enduring aspect of these works. The book begins with a provocative thesis that proposes the importance of the relationship between myth and history in the creation of America’s textbook narrative. It ends with a passionate call for a truly inclusive story of who Americans are and what Americans aspire to become.

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Map background Ratzer, Bernard "Province of New Jersey" (map) courtesy Special Collections, University of Delaware Library, Newark Delaware.