All Things Maine
All Things Maine

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Was the Blackboard Invented in Rumford?

Samuel Read Hall is given credit for inventing the blackboard in W. B. Lapham's 1890 History of Rumford.
Samuel R. Hall, Jr., son of the first settled minister, became a famous educator. His first schools were taught in Rumford, and here in this far inland town, he invented the black-board, and it was here used for the first time. He commenced teaching when twenty years of age. At Concord, Vermont, in 1823, he opened and taught the first Normal School ever taught in this country. He was associated with Dr. Hitchcock and other learned men of his time; aided in the geographical survey of Vermont; taught Normal schools in Concord, at Andover, Mass., and elsewhere; had charge of the Academy at Plymouth, N. H., for many years; was a preacher and had several settlements, besides being the author of several text-books, among which were "The Child's Assistant to a Knowledge of the Geography of Vermont," "Lectures on Teaching," The Grammatical Assistant," A School History of the United States," and "Alphabet of Geology." His life was a busy one and his reputation wide-spread. It is a source of gratification to the people of Rumford that he commenced his career in this town, and that he here invented and first used the now indispensable black-board. [pp. 184-5]
This website gives a history of the blackboard, and states that Hall patented his design in 1823.

Other sources, though, grant priority to Scottish headmaster James Pillans.
James Pillans, Headmaster of the Old High School of Edinburgh, Scotland, is widely credited for inventing the blackboard and colored chalk which he used to teach geography.

Mr. George Baron, an instructor at West Point Military Academy, is considered to be the first American instructor to incorporate the use of a large black chalk board into the presentation of his math lessons in 1801. However, it's probable that a few other schools had access to it, also. [Link]
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