St. John's Library - 19th Century Adult Education


Physical Description
About 1970, some tidying up was happening in the oldest part of St. John's Church, the rooms alongside the original west tower, and a poorly stored collection of old books was found. P.G. Webb, B.A., Lecturer in History, Launceston Teachers College, who also did other research on the history of St. John's Church, undertook to list the books, and reported by letter to the vestry of the day. See linked letter. He also wrote a historical paper on the discovery, which was read to the Northern Branch of the Royal Society of Tasmania, on Friday, 5th March 1971, and published in the Society's Bulletin No. 10 in October 1975. This article has been transcribed and is linked.
Historical Details
The middle of the 19th century was a time during which education was rapidly being made available to the masses. The wealthy had made use of schools for "young gentlemen" in Britain, and such schools were already being established in Tasmania. For the poor, their children could attend Sunday School from the 1830s, and government-supported schools were in developing at the same time. Browne's library attempted to fill a gap - adults that never had an opportunity for education. This role was later taken up by the Mechanics' Institute Library, which no doubt diminished the value of the church library, eventually consigning it to dusty boxes, after the more interesting and worthwhile titles had been taken elsewhere. Webb's paper gives a really plausible analysis of the establishment, history and decline of the library.
It is not presently clear what became of the books after Webb's careful listing. 
Online only
Dating of Item
1840 to 1975

Database Date:            Faculty Date:

March 5 1971;
Online Sources