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McGuffey Museum

McGuffey Museum, 401 Spring Street, Oxford, is a registered national historic landmark. William Holmes McGuffey -- who taught Americans to read for decades -- was a Miami professor for 10 years. While in Oxford, he developed the series of McGuffey Readers, which sold more than 120 million copies. The two-story brick house built in 1833 by Mr. and Mrs. McGuffey remains at the southeast corner of Spring and Oak streets, surrounded by the Miami campus.

Regarding McGuffey's significance, Dr. Phillip R. Shriver, Miami's 16th president, 1965-1981, said "there, on his new front porch, the young professor began in 1833 what was in effect a laboratory school. School children from the neighborhood gathered informally to be taught a series of graded lessons, incorporating new educational ideas McGuffey had already begun to formulate -- ideas that would benefit the children not only of Oxford and Ohio, but of the entire nation," Shriver wrote in the August/September 1986 issue of Timeline, an Ohio Historical Society magazine. "Disturbed by the overwhelming pessimism of the schoolbooks then in use in America, and by their obsessive preoccupation with death, McGuffey planned to infuse his lessons with the optimism of the frontier, with the belief that a good life could be earned here and now as well as in the years to come, and with a code of honor and morality stressing the rewards of honesty, virtue and industry," Shriver explained. McGuffey, born near Claysville, Pa., Sept. 23, 1800, came to Miami in 1826, and in 1827 married Harriet Spining, by whom he had five children. He was a professor of ancient languages and moral philosophy and Miami's first librarian. In 1832 became head of the department of moral philosophy. In 1836, he resigned to accept the presidency of Cincinnati College. He was president of Ohio University, 1839-1843. About two years later McGuffey became professor of moral philosophy at the University of Virginia, where he remained until his death May 4, 1873.


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