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General History/Early XIX century syllabus


Hi Mr Troy,
I am not sure whether this question could be included in your field of knowledge or not. Anyway, I will give it a try. I am really interested in Education History. I was wondering what the syllabus used to be for College students at the beginning of the XIX century. Was College/University structured as it is today or was it more focused on practical knowledge? Thank you very much beforehand.
Best regards,



If anything, teaching in the early 19th century was probably less practical than it was today.  Universities at that time were far more elitist institutions, designed for the children of aristocrats or the very wealthy.  They were generally not expected to be educated in a trade at school but rather learn the wisdom of the ages.  Many schools required students to know Greek and/or Latin before admission as many of the texts studied were in those languages.  They read a great deal of writings from ancient Greece and Rome.  They also studied advanced mathematics, trigonometry, and calculus.  Religion was also a major course of study as many graduates went on to become ministers.

The notion of a college or university being a place to learn practical knowledge to prepare a student for a career is more of a 20th Century development.  I am not aware of any specific syllabi available online from that era, but typically study was less formal and formulaic.  Most Universities were relatively small, with hundreds of students rather than thousands.  Many worked directly with a very small group of professors for years, getting to know each other rather well.

I hope this helps!
- Mike  

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Michael Troy


My specialties are 17th through 19th Century history, especially in the Americas and Europe. I also have a fair knowledge of ancient Greek and Roman History, and some knowledge of Medieval European history. My expertise is focuses on Military and political history, but I`ll take a crack at anything.


I have been a guest lecturer at George Washington University. Mostly, I have just read hundreds of books about world history.


J.D. Univ. of Michigan B.A. George Washington University

Awards and Honors
Truman Scholar

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