The Acquisitions Table: Barker Burnell School Exercise Book

Burnell, Barker. School Exercise Book, 1813.

Barker BurnellBarker Burnell (1798-1843) lived in Nantucket, Massachusetts.  He served as a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 1821-1822, and as a member of the Massachusetts Senate in 1823, 1825-1833, and 1838.  This schoolbook was kept by Burnell in 1813 when he was fifteen years old.  The book opens with “Mercators Sailing” problems – “A Ship in lat. 49˚57’ and lon. 5˚14W Sail S Westward until her departure from the meridian…”  He also practices ship log entries, such as a hypothetical “Journal of a Voyage from London to Madeira & Teneriffe.”  The remainder of the volume contains more familiar math lessons, including algebra, fractions, involution, evolution, and simple equations.  Burnell’s work certainly is interesting, but living on an island, it is no surprise that Burnell incorporated sailing lessons into his schoolwork.

Published by

Tracey Kry

Assistant Curator of Manuscripts and Assistant Reference Librarian, American Antiquarian Society

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