Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Alcott, William Alexander

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Alcott, William Alexander, author, b. in Wolcott, Conn., 6 Aug., 1798; d. in Auburndale, Mass., 29 March, 1859. He supported himself in youth by working on a farm in summer and teaching in winter, studied medicine at Yale, and practised for several years. In 1832 he associated himself with William Woodbridge in the preparation of school geographies and atlases, and in editing the "Annals of Education" and the "Juvenile Rambles," the first weekly periodical for children published in America. His interest in improving the condition of the public schools led to his writing numerous articles on the subject, published in the Hartford and New Haven journals. For his paper “On the Construction of School-houses” he was awarded a premium from the American institute of instruction. About 1832 he removed to Boston, and there published the "Young Man’s Guide," a book that exerted great influence by disseminating correct physiological principles. Upward of 100 books and pamphlets were published by him, including "The House I live in," "The Young Housekeeper," "The Library of Health" (6 vols.), "Moral Reform," "My Progress in Error," and a "Prize Essay on Tobacco." He spent his winters in travel, visiting school-houses, more than 20,000 of which he is said to have inspected, and lecturing. His name is identified with some of the most valuable reforms in education, morals, and physical training of the present century.