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Mathematical Treasure: New Athenian Oracle, or Ladies' Companion

Frank J. Swetz (The Pennsylvania State University)

This is the title page for The New Athenian Oracle, or Ladies’ Companion compiled by Samuel Tizzard (1787-1841) and published in 1806. Mr. Tizzard identified himself only as a teacher of English and mathematics in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. The work is in two volumes: volume one poses questions and volume two supplies the answers. Perhaps Tizzard’s inspiration for this book had been The Ladies’ Diary, a similar and very successful British publication of this period.


Pages 256-259 give some examples of the mathematical problems intended for readers to solve. Various readers, both men and women, proposed problems. Many were copied from various sources. For example, Problem XXVI on page 256, proposed by a Miss Lucy Anderson, originated in the 1790 issue of the Ladies’ Diary. It was set by a Liverpool schoolmaster and solved by a Miss Betty Claxon “from a village near Newcastle.” Try some of the problems!

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: New Athenian Oracle, or Ladies' Companion," Convergence (May 2015)