Rindge, NH: 1823-1824. Comprised of 41 handwritten pages of mathematical definitions, tables, methods, and exersises. Ownership signature of "Mary Ann Wilder, Rindge 1823" to top corner of first page. All entries done in a single hand. Bound in a contemporary composition book with brown tape spine and marbled paper wraps. Genealogy and local municipality records for Rindge, New Hamphire document Wilder as a resident from her birth in 1806 until her marriage in 1829, making her 19 at the time of composing this book. The Missionary Herald lists her in as a donor, along with Miss Nancy Wilder, to the School Fund of the Missionary Chapel at Bombay in 1818, suggesting her interest both in her own education and that of others. An example of an American girl's education in math that is exceptional and scarce, as most documents of this kind come from school boys of the same age. Wilder's access to a rigorous education was the benefit of a life of privilege, as the daughter of a wealthy attorney.
Mary Ann Wilder's meticulously composed arithmetic book opens with a definition of Arithmetic as the "art of computing by number and has five principle rules for its operation, viz. Numeration, Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication, and Division." Following this, Wilder lays out the the names of numbers before neatly placing them in a table, descending from trillions down to units. Drawing on her initial definition of Arithmetic, Wilder arranges the notebook in that order, with headings for each section, and each rule of operation being given space for a Simple and a Supplemental or Compound format accompanied by explanations and exercises. By the middle of the book, Wilder shifts her focus to the practical use of these skills to daily tasks -- weights and measures, the calculations of time, determination of land acreage, money and finances, the cutting and preparation of cloth. As she performs her fractions, conversions, and multiplications, Wilder maintains a formal secretary style cursive hand, always neat and orderly to ensure that the book will last for future reference in her household. Records show that she would go on to marry the Reverend Camp in 1829 and have a daughter of her own; but she died young, in 1830, at the age of 25.
A unique and exceptional document, Wilder's notebook has research possibilities including but not limited to the history of education in the U.S., the history of women's education, the effects of race and class on girls' education, mathematics, historical measurements, paleography, and women's and gender studies. (Item #2731)