An abridgment of what I extracted while an undergraduate at Harvard College, 1766-1769: Commonplace book of Benjamin Wadsworth

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Content Notes

The bound volume contains excerpts copied by Benjamin Wadsworth from books he read as a student at Harvard in the late 1760s. The volume includes almost no personal commentary on the readings. The excerpts are arranged by year of study for the academic years 1766-1769, beginning when Wadsworth was a sophomore. Each entry begins with a title indicating the book title and author for the passage, and there is an alphabetical index at the end of the volume. Wadsworth selected "extracts" from both religious and secular texts including several histories of England, American histories (with a focus on Puritans), the Bible, and in his senior year, "the Koran of Mohammed." He also read several books on the art of speech and the art of preaching. There are few science texts included, though the final five-page entry is titled, "What I thought fit to note down from Mr. Winthrop's experimental Lectures" and contains notes both on the content of Professor John Winthrop's lectures as well as the types of experiments being performed in class. Wadsworth's commonplace book offers a window on the state of higher education in the eighteenth century and offers a firsthand account of academic life at Harvard College.

Biographical Notes

Benjamin Wadsworth (1750-1826), a Danvers, Mass. minister, was born on July 18, 1750 in Milton, Mass. He graduated from Harvard College with an AB in 1769 and received an AM in 1772. He served as minister of the First Congregational Church of Danvers. Wadsworth was a member of the Massachusetts Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge and the Massachusetts Humane Society. He was the first president of the Danvers Moral Society. In 1816 he received a D.D. at the Harvard Commencement of 1816. He died on January 20, 1826. There is no known relation between Wadsworth and Harvard President Benjamin Wadsworth (1670-1737).