1822 · [Great Britain]
Elizabeth's notebook is composed in a meticulous cursive hand, with neat headers, each dated, and her name to many of the footers. Section each have a definition, leading into rules and, from there, into word problems and calculations. Each new section progresses in complexity, requiring Elizabeth to conduct longer calculations and combine a variety of arithmetical methods (multiplication, division, addition, subtraction). Some of these are generic questions about distance or weight; but others urge the student to devotion even as she works in a logical field ("How many Hours, Minutes, and Seconds elapsed since the birth of Christ, which is 1808 years ago assuming 365 days to a year?"). Some put Elizabeth in contact with the world of commerce and supply chain ("The yearly export of Brandies from France is said to amount to 25,000 tons. What is the value of this quantity at 5s6p per Gallon?"). Still others prepare her for the maintenance and management of a household or a business ("If a servant's wages be 12.12 for 52 weeks how much is that a year?" or "If 1728 Elegant wine glasses were bought for £65.2s how must they be sold per dozen or per glass to gain Ten Guineas by the sale of the whole?").
A portion of seven pages near the center of the book offers a telling anomaly. While it continues in Elizabeth's neat hand, these entries from January-February 1822 list goods purchased by community members from merchants (several of whom are women). If these are a part of a school exercise, they do not show the marks of it. Rather, they appear to be Elizabeth making real-life notations, keeping track of accounts for herself or someone else. In this sense, the word problems she records and practices are being applied in her own life.
An exceptional document, Elizabeth's notebook has research possibilities including but not limited to the history of education in the UK (and trans-Atlantic comparisons), the history of women's education, the effects of class on girls' education, mathematics, approaches to teaching math to girls, historical measurements, women in business, paleography, and women's and gender studies. (Inventory #: 3447)