1800 Charles Peale Polk (American artist, 1767-1822) Martha Selden Jones (Mrs. Churchill Jones) of Chatham, near Fredericksburg holding a book
Much of the importance of reading to colonial Americans can be attributed to the spread of the book. Americans valued reading so much they wanted more access to books. As a result, citizens in Colonial America came together as a community to help each other learn how to read & use books. Julie Hedgepeth Williams talks about Americans helping others to learn how to read in her book The Significance of the Printed Word in Early America. Scholars suggest that Americans of all classes & ranks could read. New Englander’s taught their servants to read, for Puritans felt that it was just as important for servants to understand the Bible. Scholars also found evidence that apprentices, indentured servants, & even some slaves were taught to read & write in the early South.