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MAGAZINES IN THE FRIENDS LATIN SCHOOL OF PHILADELPHIA IN THE 1770's By Jean S. Straub* Students in the Friends Latin School of Philadelphia in the 1770's were enlightened and entertained by a variety of enterprising but short-lived magazines. The Latin School, which descended from the Friends Public School established in 1689, is the school from which the present William Penn Charter School traces its origin.1 It provided a classical education to Philadelphia boys, whose journalistic efforts give insight into a student world which was quite apart from that designed for the scholars by the Masters and Overseers. Each new publishing venture was launched with optimism and was accompanied by the editor's urgent requests to his fellow scholars for support not only through subscriptions but also through literary contributions. In format the magazines, each copy written laboriously by hand, emulated the newspapers of the day, even to the inclusion of mottoes in Latin. The handwriting in the magazines changed markedly from time to time, giving evidence of new recruits being brought in to relieve fatigued copyists. That the magazines were an important part of student life and that each had an unfortunately brief tenure is noted in a literary contribution to the Universal Magazine entitled "A short account of the Magazines, Newspapers &c": It must be confessed that we have recieved [sic] great advantages from the Newspapers & magazines that have been lately instituted. When we consider the * Jean S. Straub, Assistant Professor of Education at the University of Pennsylvania, is writing a history of the William Penn Charter School. 1 The Friends Public School was founded in Philadelphia in 1689. There were three formal charters, each signed by William Penn, in 1701, 1708, and 1711, in each of which the Friends Public School was incorporated. Appointed by Penn as Overseers were fifteen "trusty & well beloved friends," who were "discreet & religious persons." Through the decades, the fifteen Overseers, a selfperpetuating group, have been responsible for the various Quaker schools. Sometimes as many as ten such schools were in operation in Philadelphia at one time. The Latin School provided the most advanced education among the Quaker schools, and received a large share of the Overseers' attention and concern. 38 Magazines in the Frdsnds Latin School39 difference between the state of the School since these periodical publications were begun & the former one before they were thought on we cannot congratulate ourselves & return our thanks to the person who first begun them. Many performances that would never have been known have emerged from obscurity & met with their just approbation from their readers & many persons have commenced author who never dreamt of writing before.2 The "short account" gives July 27, 1774 as the date of the first newspaper, of which "Messrs. George Forster & Caspar Wistar were joint proprietors," and under whom it enjoyed "two numbers and a supplement" before "Mr. Wistar declined the business & Mr. Forster continued it alone."3 The school's archives contain no examples of this early venture nor of a successor, the Gentleman 's Magazine, "a half sheet published every ten days by Robinson," which lasted three issues. The title of S. L. Wharton's Monthly Magazine was changed after the first issue to one more descriptive of its intent and scope: Universal Magazine and Literary Museum. This he published "every fortnight without diminishing the size or encreasing [sic] the price," both of which achievements were noteworthy in view of the scarcity of paper for student magazines. That the casualty rate was high for these publications is further attested by the writer's continuing report: When Mr. Robinson had three numbers he discontinued the business altogether. Another newspaper was then begun by two Gentlemen . . . but never finished & another magazine which met with the same fate. The only publication which seems likely to continue is the public Gazeteer [sic] which has been conducted with appropriety [sic] & firmness which does honour to the Compiler.4 The literary contributions and the editorial efforts resulted in a wide variety of offerings over the several years. The first issue of the Universal Magazine included articles on: "Natural History of the Spider," "Query relative to a plant," "Anecdote of Baron T.," "Description of the ant," "Observations on the wing...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1934-1504
Print ISSN
0033-5053
Pages
pp. 38-45
Launched on MUSE
2012-04-04
Open Access
No
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