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Mathematical Treasure: American Tutor's Assistant

Frank J. Swetz (The Pennsylvania State University)

This is the title page of the American Tutor’s Assistant, 1794, second edition. No copies of the first edition, 1791, are known to exist. The book was extremely popular, going through twenty-one editions, the last being in 1817. The modest “sundry” authors were John Todd, Zachariah Jess, William Waring and Jeremiah Paul.

One of the book’s first owners proudly wrote his name and school, "William Hamilton, Frankford School," on the front flyleaf. The Frankford neighborhood now occupies northeastern Philadelphia.

The last page of text contains “Promiscuous Questions” which the reader may wish to solve. Opposite the "Questions," the rear flyleaf (along with the title page) contains the signature of a later owner, James Hamilton, 1799, quite probably a younger brother of William Hamilton.

The images above are presented courtesy of the State Library of Pennsylvania, in Harrisburg, PA. Dr. Iren Snavely, Curator of Rare Books and Manuscripts, was particularly helpful in securing these images.

More early American arithmetic texts in Convergence:

Frank J. Swetz (The Pennsylvania State University), "Mathematical Treasure: American Tutor's Assistant," Convergence (June 2015)