Education in the Colonies



Education was very important in the New England colonies. The first public schools in the colonies were started there. In 1647, Massachusetts passed a law requiring all towns with 50 or more families to hire a teacher to instruct their children how to read or write. Parents were encouraged to contribute to the school, in the form of money or goods. Schools were one-room schoolhouses, on land that was usually donated. Most schools had one book, "New England Primer", that was used to teach alphabet, syllables, and prayer.

Outside of New England there was no public education in the colonies. There were some religious schools. Wealthy individuals also hired tutors for their children. In 1636, Harvard University was founded as a place to train ministers. It was the only college in the colonies for fifty years, until the College of William and Mary was founded in Virginia.