17-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today:
Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:
What book was Grandma reading? This diary entry sent me searching for an old book on the Greeks.
I found a dry –I want to call it mind-numbing–book called Greek and Roman Civilization by Fred Morrow Fling, Ph.D. that was published in 1902.
Amazingly on the inside cover there was a stamp which indicated that it once had been in a public school library (though the library was in the wrong state). But it provides an indication of the types of books that were in high school libraries years ago.
Public School Library
Library Rules— No person shall have more than one book at a time, nor keep that more than two week, and if kept longer a fine of five cents shall be imposed.
If a book is lost or injured, the price of the book or set shall be charged.
Here’s how Chapter 1 begins:
THE HOMERIC AGE
Homer probably never lived, and the Iliad is evidently a national product, not composed by one man at one time, but by many men at different times. As a record of the Trojan War, the poem has practically no value. Its real value to the student of history is due to the fact that it unconsciously reveals to us the manners and customs of the age in which it was composed. While the imagination may construct wholes that are not really, the real elements with which the poet or novelist works are drawn from experience. It is possible, then, for the historian to sift out these elements and make use of them. . .