February, 27, 2013

Education in Nauvoo

The years the Saints spent in Nauvoo were rich in both culture and learning. It was here where they established the University of the City of Nauvoo. There was no campus because most funds went to the construction of the temple, but Church leaders did regulate a curriculum. University classes covered a variety of subjects: English literature, languages, math, the sciences, rhetoric and music.

At least thirty common schools were constructed while the Saints were in Nauvoo. Students congregated in various locations: public buildings, private homes and some commercial structures. All the teachers were monitored and certified by the University of the City of Nauvoo.

Approximately 80 men and women taught in these schools.  Abigail Abbot was one of those teachers.  She began teaching school to support her family (of eight young children) after being widowed. In addition to teaching, she kept her own vegetable garden and usually had to tend to it at night, after teaching school.

Other members of the community encouraged education and did their part to help those who were less fortunate. For example, Joseph Lee Robinson built a home and dedicated the entire upper room to be a school for neighbors. He hired a teacher (a sister in the church) and invited those who could afford it to help pay her. He also made sure to invite and include those who could not afford to pay anything. He said“th[ose] that were not able to pay I wanted . . . to feel just as [welcome,] as the school was to be free to their children, every  one of them.”

The community in Nauvoo was one of camaraderie and service. Each person did his or her part to help further the work of the gospel and to educate members of the community.

*All information and quotes are from gallery text.