The idea of literacy, even through the eighteenth century, was limited to the ability to read. People who could read the Bible, basic civil documents, and the paperwork associated with earning a living were thought literate. Learning to read was accomplished in primary schools through teaching methods that centered on phonics. Most of the persons meeting this definition of literacy did, however, learn to write their name in order to sign contracts or deeds. Writing became part of the public school curriculum in the early nineteenth century. Model scripts were displayed in classrooms as part of penmanship instruction that continued into the mid-part of the twentieth century. Instruction in penmanship became less important in the latter half of the twentieth century as the typewriter and, ...

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