The œconomy of charity


Sarah Trimmer was a major figure in the establishment of Sunday Schools; this book gives directions of how to run the Sunday Schools, in which children were given Christian instruction and particularly were taught to read. By the date of the publication of this book, 250,000 were being taught to read in Sunday Schools. It also proposes the setting up of weekday Schools of Industry. 

Who was Sarah Trimmer? 

Sarah Trimmer set up a Sunday School in Brentford in 1786, which had 200 pupils two years later. She became a major figure in the setting up of charity schools, and was consulted by the royal family on founding charity schools. 

What particularly did the book propose? 

The Sunday Schools were to be the basis from which weekday Schools of Industry would be developed, which would teach children basic skills, but direct them towards employment, middle-class girls as teachers and working-class girls as servants; boys were taken in to be trained for employment in the navy. 

What kind of children would the school aim to produce? 

They would be well-mannered devout Christians who would know their place in society. In particular they would respect creatures weaker than themselves. Mrs Trimmer was very particular about the culture of abusing animals which was widespread throughout the Georgian period; her educational moral tales made use of animals as characters, and also used pictures, both of which influenced later writers of educational material. 

Her conservative views set her against both Rousseau’s views that children should be given the freedom to develop in their own ways, and Lancaster’s structure for schools in which older children taught younger children under the gaze of an adult.

Full title:
The œconomy of charity; or, An address to ladies concerning Sunday-schools
1787, London
Sarah Trimmer
Usage terms
Public Domain
Held by
British Library

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