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Lyceum Movement

Taking its name from Aristotle's Lyceum school for the youth of Athens, the lyceum movement in the United States mobilized support for popular adult education in the United States and during its most active years—the 1830s to the 1860s—played an important role in promoting public schools, libraries, and museums. Growing from the Enlightenment ideal of education for the general population, lyceums disseminated information on the arts, literature, sciences, history, public affairs, and other sorts of “useful knowledge” via lectures and concerts, scientific demonstrations and dramatic performances, and participation in debates and discussion groups.

Josiah Holbrook, a traveling lecturer and teacher, founded the first American lyceum in Millbury, Massachusetts, in 1826. Local lyceums sprang up so rapidly following Holbrook's model that by 1834, there were approximately 3,000 ...

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