Schoolhouse in Wheatland District #3, Garbutt

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I’ve got a (very fragile) fourth-grade reader from 1889 on my bookshelf.  I don’t want to go so far as to say “college is the new fourth grade,” but it does strike me that the vocabulary in that reader is similar to vocabulary on college entrance exams today.

In a prior post, I suggested “sweating to the [nineteenth-century] oldies” as a way to strengthen reading skills for college.  If you’re curious what kids around that time were expected to know, here are some vocab samples (taken from occasional “dictionary lessons” following readings, instructing students to find definitions of these words).  Don’t know them all?  Look ‘em up and get in touch with your inner Victorian-era child:

Athwart, armorial, benediction, dastard, dauntless, devoid, ford, galliard, martial, patriarchal, sonorous, sublime, wan, zenith.

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