Henry Barnard

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Henry Barnard
Henry Barnard American educator.jpg
United States Commissioner of Education
In office
March 11, 1867 – March 15, 1870
PresidentAndrew Johnson
Ulysses Grant
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byJohn Eaton
Personal details
Born(1811-01-24)January 24, 1811
Hartford, Connecticut, U.S.
DiedJuly 5, 1900(1900-07-05) (aged 89)
Hartford, Connecticut, U.S.
Alma materYale University

Henry Barnard (24 January 1811, Hartford, Connecticut – 5 July 1900, Hartford, Connecticut) was an American educationalist and reformer.


Barnard attended Wilbraham & Monson Academy and graduated from Yale University in 1830. In 1835, he was admitted to the Connecticut bar. In 1837 — 1839, he was a member of the Connecticut House of Representatives,[1] effecting in 1838 the passage of a bill, drafted and introduced by himself, which provided for "the better supervision of the common schools", and established a board of "commissioners of common schools" in the state. He was the secretary of the board from 1838 until its abolition in 1842, and during this time worked indefatigably to reorganize and reform the common school system of the state, thus earning a national reputation as an educational reformer.[2]

In 1843, he was appointed by the governor of Rhode Island agent to examine the public schools of the state, and recommended improvements; and his work resulted in the reorganization of the school system two years later. From 1845 to 1849, he was the first commissioner of public schools in the state, and his administration was marked by a decided step in educational progress. In 1845, Barnard established the first "Rhode Island Teachers Institute" at Smithville Seminary.

Returning to Connecticut, from 1851 to 1855, he was "superintendent of common schools", and principal of the Connecticut State Normal School at New Britain, Connecticut.[2]

In 1852, Barnard was offered the newly created position of President of the University of Michigan, but he declined. From 1859 to 1860, he was chancellor of the University of Wisconsin–Madison and agent of the board of regents of the normal school fund; in 1866 he was president of St. John's College in Annapolis, Maryland; and from 1867 to 1870 he was the first United States Commissioner of Education, and in this position he laid the foundation for the subsequent work of the Bureau of Education.[2]

American Journal of Education[edit]

Barnard's chief service to the cause of education, however, was rendered as the editor, from 1855 to 1881, of the American Journal of Education, the thirty-one volumes of which are a veritable encyclopedia of education, one of the most valuable compendiums of information on the subject ever brought together through the agency of any one man.[3] He also edited from 1838 to 1842, and again from 1851 to 1854, the Connecticut Common School Journal, and from 1846 to 1849 the Journal of the Rhode Island Institute of Instruction.[2]

Death and legacy[edit]

He died at Hartford, Connecticut, aged 89. Among American educational reformers, Barnard is entitled to rank next to Horace Mann of Massachusetts.[citation needed]

He is buried at Cedar Hill Cemetery in Hartford. The Henry Barnard School at Rhode Island College and the Henry Barnard School in New Rochelle, New York are named in his honor.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ 'Roll of State Officers and Members of General Assembly of Connecticut from 1776-1881,' Press of the Cass, Lockwood & Brainard Co.: 1881, pg. 387-389
  2. ^ a b c d Monroe, Will Seymour (1893). The educational labors of Henry Barnard: a study in the history of American pedagogy. C. W. Bardeen. p. [page needed].
  3. ^ Chisholm 1911.

Further reading[edit]

  • Curti, Merle. The Social Ideas of American Educators (1935) pp 139–68
  • MacMullen, Edith Nye. In the cause of true education: Henry Barnard & nineteenth-century school reform (Yale University Press, 1991)
  • Thursfield, Richard Emmons. Henry Barnard's American journal of education (Johns Hopkins U, Press, 1945)

Primary sources[edit]

External links[edit]

Academic offices
Preceded by
John Lathrop
Chancellor of the University of Wisconsin, Madison
Succeeded by
John Sterling
Political offices
New office United States Commissioner of Education
Succeeded by
John Eaton