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ERIC Number: EJ696136
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2004
Pages: 24
Abstractor: Author
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0195-6744
Literacy Acquisition in an Orphanage: A Historical-Longitudinal Case Study
Murray, John E.
American Journal of Education, v110 n2 p172 Feb 2004
How and when children acquire the ability to read and write are questions of considerable interest. This essay uses a simple marker that has been closely examined in the historical literature, the ability to sign one's name, to study circumstances of literacy learning in a sample of 782 children that dates from about two centuries ago. Few children had learned to write upon entrance to the orphanage that produced these records, the Charleston, South Carolina, Orphan House, but the great majority could sign upon exit. Boys were more likely to sign at entrance and exit, but the increase in literacy that was due to the Orphan House school's efforts was greater among girls. Boys seem to have learned to write within 1-3 years of admission, but it took girls much longer, on average, to acquire literacy. While changes in pedagogical techniques had little effect, literate mothers may have been able to help their sons learn to write even after admission.
University of Chicago Press, Journals Division, P.O. Box 37005, Chicago, IL 60637. Tel: 773-753-3347; Web site:; e-mail:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: South Carolina